Cois Mara Thoir Sa Rinn


MSN 001; 76 minutes; 1998



Almost entirely recorded at St Nicholas’s Chapel, Ring in the Waterford Gaeltacht at Christmas, 1998, this a tremendous introduction to one of the songs and music of one of the less well-known Irish-speaking areas.


Most of the numerous singers and musicians who appear on the album are natives of the area, such as Ciarán Ó Gealbháin (formerly of Danú) and his sister Tríona,  Cárthach Mac Craith (Danú’s original singer) and his cousin Seán, and Eibhlís Tóibín, sister of Nioclás. However, there are also several ‘blow-ins’, of which the most familiar would be Liam Clancy and Ann Mulqueen.


Kick-started by Donnchadh Gough’s piped rendition of The Dublin Reel and The Ravelled Hanks of Yarn, it’s very much a mixed bag of an album, partly because the location’s acoustics are somewhat echoic but, one would guess, also because the experience of performing (and being recorded) in front of friends and family clearly affected the nerves of certain participants. Intriguingly too, the producers, Mick Ó hUallacháin and Rónán Ó Coisdealbha, opted to include the spoken introductions of the concert’s MC, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, meaning that non-Irish speakers will have repeated recourse to their remote’s next track button. This is also a very much ‘as is’ recording, so all manner of background noise (coughing, slamming doors) is included.


However, do not allow any of the above to form a deterrent for the album includes some stunning singing, not least from Odharnait and Sorcha Ní Chéilleachair on Bean Dubh an Ghleanna, and in Ciarán Ó Gealbháin’s sublime voice whenever he appears . The few instrumental tracks also provide a telling counterpoint.


The album also includes the late Nioclás Tóibín singing Bóthar Chluian Meala which derives from the RTÉ archives and has never previously been released commercially.


Geoff Wallis


1st April, 2005


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