Carolan's Ramble to Cashel
The music of blind harper Turlough O'Carolan blended the old Irish harp tradition
with Italian Baroque influences. Here Steve Coulter and Harris Moore of Northern
Lights duet on harp and hammered dulcimer on one of Carolan's best known tunes.
Having heard the Bothy Band's stunning version of this piece, any other version, including
this, has to be a let down. Orison plays in a measured, heavily-arranged style, more along
classical/New Age lines than traditional. They also manage to play the tune in no
less than three different time signatures. The sound is rich and polished, with lush
accompaniement complete with shimmering cymbals and, though nicely done, for me it has
completely lost the soul of the original.
Dónal Agus Mórag/The New-Rigged Ship
Altan is undoubtedly the most acclaimed traditional
group to come on the scene in the past few years, and their gem is
the voice of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, heard here on a
wedding song from Rathlin Island, off the North Coast of Ireland. Emphasizing the links
between this region and Scotland, it is sung in a mix of Irish and Scots
Gaelic, and is followed by a reel from the Shetland Islands, off Scotland.
Calliope House/The Cowboy Jig
Alasdair Fraser was for several years national fiddle champion in Scotland, and it
shows in this combination, with a wonderful sonorous sound and
nimble articulation. This one is a real joy to listen to.
Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis
Chuaigh Mé 'Na Rosann
Connie Dover of Kansas City based Scartaglen sings this traditional romance song in
Irish. Her strong voice is more nasal than many traditional singers, but both the
singing and backing are quite exquisite.
Trip to Skye
New York-born Eileen Ivers is one of the top young fiddlers in Irish music today. She
plays here a tune written by John Whelan (of Kips Bay Ceili Band fame), who
accompanies her on accordion.
John Whelan & Eileen Ivers
Are Ye Sleeping, Maggie?
Another great tune from Fraser, this time showing his abilities on a traditional
Tribute to Peadar O'Donnell (edit)
Moving Hearts was one of the best results of many attempts to fuse traditional celtic
music with modern rock and jazz idioms. Founded by Planxty members Christy Moore and
Donal Lunny, and including both traditional and rock musicians, the Hearts did create
that relative rarity, a fusion that was more than the sum of it's parts. This track,
from their all-instrumental The Storm, highlights Davy Spillane's powerful uilleann
A beautiful song in Irish, of a young woman who is courted by a man who is more
interested in her dowry than herself. The voices are those
of sister and brother, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, and Micheál Ó Domhnaill, backed by
brothers Johnny and Phil Cunningham, of Silly Wizard fame.
Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasda
This waulking song is a modern version of an old Scottish tradition, work songs
which were sung to accompany the pulling of wool to make cloth. Capercaillie is
a vigorous young Scottish group that straddle the borders of traditional and pop
music; that mix doesn't always work, but here it proves very effective.
Puirt a Beul
No instrumentation in sight here, just the two voices of Mary MacMaster and
Patsy Seddon, singing in harmony and counterpoint, three highly rhythmic segments
of Scottish puirt a beul or mouth music.
The York Reel/Dancing Feet
It was only in the seventies that fretted instruments such as the mandolin and
bouzouki came into Irish folk music, as rhythm instruments. In 1983, Gerald Trimble
added cittern to the ranks of melody instuments, with his solo album on the ten-string
cittern. This pair of reels, from the Scottish piping tradition, have been
effectively recreated on the cittern.
Morghan Meaghan (edit)
Back to another Carolan piece on harp and hammered dulicmer, this time by Laurie
Riley and Bob McNally of Washington. Their playing is fine, though not exceptional.
Laurie Riley and Bob McNally
Probably the most derivative of the album this is a self-penned tune by Scottish
guitarist Simon Wynberg, backed by uilleann piper Ian Goodfellow and orchestral
strings. Rather more in the New Age than celtic traditions.
These albums should be widely available in record stores in North America (try under New Age
if you don't see anything in Celtic). If you need more info, or can't find them locally, give
Narada a call at 1-800-966-3699. You can also contact Narada by email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. In Europe, Narada can be
reached at PO Box 2301, 1200 CH Hilversum, Netherlands.
You can also order online, at a discount price from
To the Narada page.
To the Ceolas home page.
Gerard Manning email@example.com