Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington


The Merry Love to Play


Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 167; 51 minutes; 2007


The Merry Love to Play is the second collaboration between the now octogenarian Sligo-born flute player Peter Horan and the Kerry fiddler Gerry Harrington, following on from their 2005 collaboration Fortune Favours the Merry. Unlike its predecessor, this latest album was recorded in a studio setting rather than a pub (Doddy’s in Ballymote, if you’re ever in the area) and does not feature the slightest note of accompaniment whatsoever.


Said lack of backing might nowadays be regarded as a brave step, but, in reality, here recalls the album Peter recorded for CCÉ with his long-time playing partner Fred Finn in the late 1980s and another classic flute-fiddle album of earlier vintage Topic’s Traditional Irish Music from County Leitrim by Packie Duignan and Séamus Horan. Of course, the glory of such recordings is that they naturally bring the tune to the forefront and allow the listener a full exploration of a musician’s skills and creativity.


The bulk of The Merry Love to Play consists of tunes from the Sligo repertoire and features duet playing of the highest order. A particularly fine example of the latter lies in the splendid concatenation of The Swallow and The High Reel, where the rapidity of Peter’s fingering and consummate breath control truly belies his age.


There are solo tracks a-plenty too. Peter can be heard in ebullient form on The Flowers of Red Hill/The New Steamboat and on the perky The Killavil Waltz. Gerry is in full rhythmic flow on Dick Sullivan’s Favourite/The Spotted Cow and, contrastingly, an elegiac rendition of the air Her Mantle So Green, a song forever associated with Margaret Barry.


As spring seems finally to be on the way, this is certainly an album to provoke life in new shoots and offers a thoroughly compelling listening experience. The liner notes are exceptionally detailed and provide a wealth of information regarding source material.


Geoff Wallis


5th March, 2008



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