"a notable marker in contemporary traditional music and song...If you want to get a sense of the richness of the solo tradition today, and what is creatively possible with a single tune or song melody, then Rogha Raelach is a rich starting point"
Toner Quinn, The Journal of Music
"The selection, variety, and balance throughout “Rogha Raelach” is just fabulous...while each track is distinct on its own, each is very artistically complementary of the others"
Daniel Neely, The Irish Echo
"This first compilation from Raelach Records offers 56 minutes of first-class Irish music. Superbly executed, entertaining and delightful"
Johnny Whalley, Folk Radio UK
We are delighted to bring you our first compilation album, Rogha Raelach Volume 1, which comes at a time of unprecedented crisis for the arts sector in Ireland and elsewhere. While a series of compilation releases has long been an ambition of the label, postponed album launches and interrupted recording sessions arising from current restrictions have disrupted our plans for 2020, and accelerated this goal. As a result, this release serves as a way of continuing to release music at a time when it is most needed, while also supporting artists who have been deprived of opportunities to do what they love.
Reflecting the aesthetic and ethos of Raelach Records itself, this release is an eclectic mix of approaches to interpreting the traditional arts of Ireland. Unconcerned with clichéd and polarising arguments about tradition and innovation, this album instead honours the compelling instrumental, and sean-nós singing traditions on their own terms, while also making space for experimental investigations by artists with a deep immersion in the traditional music and song of Ireland.
Many of these artists have released music with Raelach Records in the past, while others are working on current label projects. Some are simply musicians that we really admire and we are grateful to have an opportunity to release their music on this compilation.
12 previously unreleased tracks featuring:
The Martin Hayes Quartet | Noel Hill | Geraldine Cotter | Derek Hickey | Aoife Ní Bhriain | Bobby Gardiner | Pádraic Keane | Nell Ní Chróinín | Sean & Michael Gavin | Síle Denvir | Saileog Ní Cheannabháin | Macdara Ó Faoláin | Jack Talty
Produced by Jack Talty
Photography & Design by Maurice Gunning
1. The Martin Hayes Quartet: Frank Keane’s Reel (2:37)
The opening track of this album features Martin Hayes on fiddle; Dennis Cahill on guitar; Liz Knowles on fiddle & viola; and Doug Wieselman on bass clarinet. Martin was the first person that I spoke to when considering the possibility of a compilation album and his generosity and support has been central to this project. This previously unreleased track comes from a recording session in Bantry House during which the quartet’s album The Blue Room (2017) was recorded.
2. Nell Ní Chróinín (voice): Eochaill (4:32)
Eochaill is a well-known love song that is very much associated with singers in An Rinn, county Waterford. However, versions of the song can also be found throughout Connemara. Nell learned the song years ago after being especially drawn to the melody but she has only started to perform the song publicly in recent years. Nell cites Nioclás Tóibín as a primary influence on this interpretation.
3. Noel Hill (concertina): The Concert Reel & Jenny’s Chickens (4:07)
The Concert Reel is a popular tune that was first recorded by fiddler Paddy Sweeney in 1937. Jenny's Chicken’s, popularised by Michael Coleman, originates in Scotland, but the version played here by Noel is one that he picked up from John Byrnes of Ringsend in Dublin. De Dannan recorded this setting as Noel Hill’s on Hibernian Rhapsody (1995). This particular recording, provided by Noel for this compilation was recorded in the USA a number of years ago. Noel has been a significant influence on me and so many other concertina players, and I am delighted that he agreed to be part of this album.
4. Pádraic Keane (uilleann pipes): The Three Blackbirds (6:04)
This track features three different settings of tunes known as The Blackbird. Among the influences that have shaped Pádraic’s arrangement of this track are John Kelly’s setting of The Blackbird hornpipe, as well as The Stranger hornpipe, which was a favourite of Elizabeth Crotty. The slow air Pádraic plays is a setting of The Blackbird that he associates with the iconic Dublin fiddler, Tommie Potts, while his interpretation of the Blackbird set-dance is based on uilleann piping settings by Séamus Ennis and Richard Lewis O’Mealy.
5. Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (voice, viola, piano): Sadhbh Thomáis, Tom’s Duke of Leinster & Tom’s Collier’s (4:49)
The song Sadhbh Thomáis was collected from Colm Ó Caoidheáin from Glynsk, near Carna, Connemara, by Séamus Ennis in the 1940s. It’s a rare song and only two verses of it exists in the manuscript housed in the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin. Saileog first heard the two reels that she plays on this track on recordings of Tom Pháidín Tom Ó Coisdealbha, from An Spidéal, Galway. They can be found in the Terry Yarnell collection of recordings in the world music section of the British Library. Tom was a fantastic lilter as well as a great singer of songs in both Irish and English, for which he is well known. He also features on the Dé Danann album, The Mist Covered Mountain (1980).
6. Derek Hickey (accordion) & Macdara Ó Faoláin (bouzouki): Fraher’s & Garrett Barry’s Jig (3:09)
Both of these popular jigs were favourites of the renowned Miltown Malbay uilleann piper, Willie Clancy, and Derek recalls learning this set from the Davy Spillane recording Atlantic Bridge (1987). This particular track was recorded for this album while Derek and Macdara were in the studio working on Derek’s forthcoming and much-awaited debut accordion album that we expect to release on Raelach Records in 2021.
7. Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddles and voila): The Drunken Sailor (4:09)
The Drunken Sailor hornpipe is synonymous with the playing of Tommie Potts, who recorded it on his ground-breaking album, The Liffey Banks (1971). On this track, Aoife layers two fiddles with a viola, and it is believed that such fiddle layering and accompaniment was an ambition of Potts himself. Originally, this track was intended to be part of Aoife’s debut solo recording on Raelach Records but it appears here instead as part of this compilation.
8. Seán Gavin (flute) & Michael Gavin (bouzouki): The Road to Knock & The Templehouse (2:23)
Sean’s setting of The Road to Knock, more commonly known as The Dunmore Lassies, was inspired by the playing of the great Kevin Henry (RIP), who would often start on the high part of the tune. The Templehouse is a popular reel whose title is thought to refer to a Georgian mansion near Ballymote in county Sligo. Sean is one of my favourite flute players, and I was delighted that he accepted an invitation to record and send me a track especially for this album from his home in Detroit, USA. Seán is joined on this track by his brother Michael on bouzouki.
9. Jack Talty (concertina): An Droighneán Donn & The Cúil Aodha Jig (4:52)
I’ve heard many great versions of An Droighneán Donn over the years and this particular setting is informed by many of them. The song tells the story of an encounter between a man and woman who spend a day together under a brownthorn bush (an droighneán donn). Despite their plans to marry, they part ways only to reunite and eventually marry a year or more later. The Cúil Aodha Jig is a popular tune that is said to originate as an arrangement of a song entitled My Mother in Law by Ceoltóirí Laighean on The Crooked Road (1973). It also known by the name Amhrán an Tae or the Song of Tea.
10. Geraldine Cotter (piano): Poll Hal'penny (6:24)
There are many versions of the hornpipe Poll Hal’penny, and they are believed to derive from the air Molly McAlpin, which was collected by Edward Bunting and published in his General Collection of Ancient Irish Music (1796). Geraldine has recorded various settings of this tune as an accompanist to her brother Eamon, as well as to Maeve Donnelly and Peadar O’Loughlin but this track offers a different interpretation of the tune in which the worlds of melody and accompaniment merge. The resulting recording is a personal response and reflection on the melody that has been stimulated by pandemic-related restrictions and isolation leading to an intense focus on Geraldine’s own musical thoughts and curiosity. Geraldine's excellent forthcoming album Ré Órga is one of our projects that has been disrupted by current restrictions but we are delighted that Geraldine agreed to record this remarkable track for this release.
11. Síle Denvir (voice): An Cailín Fearúil Fionn (4:22)
'An Cailín Fearúil Fionn' is a love song from the male perspective. The young man in the song declares his love for a woman who is not named. He wishes to marry her and promises her wealth and happiness, declaring that she is the most beautiful woman in the world.
Amhrán grá is ea 'An Cailín Fearúil Fionn' ó dhearcadh an fhir. Tá an fear óg, reacaire an amhráin, i ngrá le bean nach n-ainmnítear. Teastaíonn uaidh í a phósadh agus geallann sé saibhreas agus sonas di. Deir sé gur 'deise í ná Véineas is ná a bhfuil de mhná faoin saol'.
12. Bobby Gardiner (melodeon) & Jack Talty (piano): The Humours of Glendart & The Mullingar Races (3:28)
Surprisingly, this track was one that Bobby and I recorded at the end of a relatively long recording session while working on a separate project. I'm frequently amazed at the level of energy that Bobby displays in his playing, as well as the heartfelt expression and technical virtuosity that he achieves on the melodeon. Bobby's enthusiasm for music and his never-ending curiosity is an inspiration to all who know him. Both of these tunes are popular in the traditional repertoire but they are given a fresh interpretation here in Bobby's hands.
Thanks to The Martin Hayes Quartet (Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Liz Knowles & Doug Wieselman), Noel Hill, Nell Ní Chróinín, Geraldine Cotter, Bobby Gardiner, Aoife Ní Bhriain, Pádraic & Tommy Keane, Derek Hickey, Macdara Ó Faoláin, Seán & Michael Gavin, Saileog Ní Cheannabháin, Síle Denvir, Matt Purcell, Áine Bird, Úna Lawlor, John Boyd, and Nicola Jones.
All tracks were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jack Talty especially for this compilation album, except: tracks 1 and 3, which were kindly provided by the artists;
track 4, recorded by Pádraic and Tommy Keane; and track 8, recorded by Seán Gavin.