Posted by: mdmusingsie | June 25, 2010

Ceol, arís

Back to St. Nicholas’ for another trad concert. This one intrigued me as one of the performers was Lillis Ó Laoire, who some of my friends (and faithful readers) will remember from the Sean Nós Northwest Festival at Evergreen College in January, 2010. He is a very talented singer and advocate of the Irish language.

The first selection he sang was Seacht Suálicí na a Maighdine Muire (The Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary). As soon as he began I recognized the song from one of my Celtic compilations (even if I can’t speak much of the language at least I’m able to recognize versions of songs I’ve heard many times). It’s also very gratifying that when I do hear something I’ve heard before; I can actually identify some of the words. Oddly (fatefully?) I had the aforementioned CD with me, but not the lyrics (they’re on the internet, however). The version I have is sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh and is on the Celtic Spirit CD distributed by Narada. There is a beautiful English version by Loreena McKennitt called The Seven Rejoices of Mary on A Midwinter’s Night Dream.

His second selection I recognized as well, Eoghainin Ó Ragadain which I have by Altan on their Another Sky CD. The other two songs I did not know, but enjoyed just as much. As he introduced one of the last two songs, he mentioned re-learning it the way it had been sung on the Doegen Records – recordings of Irish speakers and singers collected from 1928-1931 that have been digitally re-mastered and are available online. It’s an on-going project to complete the background documentation. Eventually they will have the transcripts in English and Irish. While they aren’t the easiest to understand for newbie learners like myself, I still think it’s a great resource and an awesome snapshot of history.

The evening was actually begun by a young man playing flute and a young woman on the fiddle. I arrived a few minutes late (work tends gets in the way of things), and didn’t hear who they were. They played a wide variety of jigs, reels, marches among other tunes.

Ronan Browne was the featured artist after the intermission. Not only is he a renowned Uilleann Pipe player, but quite the comedian as well. He claims he cannot read music; therefore he must have some very attuned ears. He told us he and his family were having dinner in Barna and he decided it was probably time to head to the concert venue when he realized he had left his pipes at home in Spiddal, so he had to race back there to fetch them and speed back to Galway. Needless to say, he made it in time.

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