Celtic Legacy album cover

Celtic Legacy

William Coulter

Breathy flute and classically-tinged guitar are the hallmarks of this arrangement of a traditional Irish lullaby. The result is more a contemporary reflective piece than traditional celtic. Guitarist Coulter, a member of the celtic/New Age group Orison is joined by Lars Johannesson on flute.

Dounce Mousitomanie

This is another slow, sonorous piece, whose lyrical flow manages to both capture the nuances of celtic slow airs and reflect modern styles of arrangement. Brussels-based Orion is composed of both Breton and Belgian musicians, most notably the great Breton guitarist, Soig Siberíl and Gwenaël Micault, composer of this piece.

The Lone Harper
The Barra MacNeils

The reflective mood continues with a simple harp solo composed and played by Lucy MacNeil, a member of this family group from Cape Breton Island in Canada, a stronghold of Scottish music and culture.

Dacw `Nghariad
4 yn y Bar

Time to liven up with a rousing Welsh song by this quintet (the name means, and is pronouced, 'four in a bar'). The vocal harmony comes straight from the Welsh tradition and the arrangement is reminiscent of some of the earlier Clannad albums.

If Ever You Were Mine
Natalie MacMaster

Back to Cape Breton, and one of the finest exponents of its distinctive fiddle-playing style. Her playing is rich and strong on this slow air, though the backing, on guitar and keyboard, is a bit too lush for my taste. The air is by Maurice Lennon of Stockton's Wing.


This tune comes from one of the lesser-known outposts of celtic culture, the Galicia region of Spain. Milladoiro is the best known Galician celtic group, and much of their playing sounds remarkably close to Irish traditional music, though whether by imitation or origin, I don't know. This plaintive, atmospheric arrangement of a traditional Galician tune is something else though and hints at a quite different tradition of celtic music.

Dheanainn Sugradh
The Poozies

This spellbinding track alone is worth the cost of the album. It's simple, traditional, yet startlingly new, a waulking song from the Shetlands rendered in four voices, with harp, accordion and guitar, blending in a magical and exhilarating harmony; the closest I've heard to this is the memorable duo of Máire and Eithne (Enya) Ní Bhraonáin on Clannad's album Fuaim (which funnily enough also has a version of this song).

Sound icon The Swans of Coole
Máire Breatnach

This slow, melancholy air laments the legendary children of Lir, who were transformed to swans by their jealous stepmother. The tune was written by Máire herself, inspired by a flock of swans at Coole, Co. Sligo.

An Cailín Gaelach
Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill

Maighread is the sister of Tríona and Micheál, of multitudinous fame (Bothy Band, Relativity, Nightnoise, Skara Brae), who accompany her here on guitar and synthesizer. This song, which she learned from her father, tells the story of a young man asking a girl for a kiss, and her rejection of him.

The Tree
William Jackson

Jackson is a founder of Ossian, one of the most popular traditional Scottish groups of its day. Now he concertrates on orchestral suites based on celtic themes. This is an excerpt from a live recording of his suite in honour of St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. His own harping carries the main tune, backed by a small orchestra, similar to some of the work by Shaun Davey and Bill Whelan.

Lorraine's Waltz
John Whelan & Eileen Ivers

This duo featured on Celtic Odyssey are back with another memoarable instrumental, again composed by Whelan, and played on fiddle and accordion, with backing from Mark Sinos on piano and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill. Until hearing this piece, I never thought that fiddle and accordion could blend so well together.

Sound icon Dúlamán

Justifiably lauded as one of the best traditional groups playing today, this track from their latest album "Island Angel" shows off the clear voice of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh singing a childrens song about the gathering of seaweed.

Culloden's Harvest

After playing it dozens of times, this song still sends a shiver down my spine. Déanta are a young new traditional group from the North of Ireland; here Mary Dillon sings a melancholy and heart-piercing song lamenting the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion at the battle of Culloden.

Sound icon Sí Beag, Sí Mór

If Déanta gives you the chills, Deiseal will send them packing with this joyful celebration of one of Carolan's best-known pieces. Cormac Breathnach's low whistle playing is pure liquid, over a jazz-tinged double bass and guitar line.

Une chanson à la mariée
Dominig Bouchaud & Cyrille Colas

Proving that there is more to Breton harping than Alan Stivell, the classically-trained Bouchard plays a gentle and evocative piece that is both identifiably celtic as well as uniquely Breton.

Théid mi Dhachaigh
Talitha MacKenzie

Coming the full circle, the album closes with another lullaby. Talitha McKenzie grew up in New York, taught herself Scots Gaelic, and eventually moved to Scotland, where she formed the influential group Mouth Music, specialising in the traditional puirt a beul Gaelic songs. Here she sings solo in Gaelic, backed by Alasdair McLeod on clarsach (Scottish harp).


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 friends@narada.com. In Europe, Narada can be reached at PO Box 2301, 1200 CH Hilversum, Netherlands.

You can also order online, at a discount price from CD Universe.

* To the Narada page.
* To the Ceolas home page.
Gerard Manning