Clanú Are Back With A Better And Diverse Album!

Clanú Are Back With A Better And Diverse Album!


Clanú are back with a new album Long Way Round. This is a strong follow-up to their 2012 album Ancient Walls. The reason why I got so excited in reviewing this is because of the evolution of their sound. The tracks are more diverse and they have lots of influences in this new album, from  bluegrass, Irish folk, Irish traditional, Americana and country.

Long Way Round has twelve tracks including covers of Black is the Color and Siúil A Rún. They incorporate traditional and folk instruments. I am a big fan of  piano music and I think Diamond’s Relief is spectacular. It has that contemporary, New Agey feel reminiscent of Night Noise and Phil Coulter. High five  to them for adding this gem.

Like Clannad and The Corrs, Clanu are composed  mostly of family members: Dee McIlroy, Niall McIlroy, Damian McIlroy, Paul Conlon and Fiona McIlroy. The latter  possess and angelic voice. I would not be surprised if one day she will be embarking on a solo career as a singer/instrumentalist.

I think Dee and Fiona  did an amazing work with their vocal styles that are supple and expressive. They sing within their ranges and that’s what I want my music to be after a long day-relaxing but also diverse. The rest of the players did their part in holding the architectural soundscape of this album, not just in every track but also on how every track sticks to each other  in a cohesive way.

You Know My Love Is True has a distinct style. It calls to mind American music in the swinging era with traces of Bluegrass. I feel like I would jitterbug every time I hear this song.

Long Way Round is an album that will appeal to many listeners. Clanú are from Belfast but with a sound like that, it is likely they will conquer continental Europe.

Listen to Flags of Belfast  by Robert Doyle

Listen to Flags of Belfast by Robert Doyle

Two years ago, Life in Shadows was released. It is still one of albums I listen to because of its timeless appeal. Artists are like heavenly bodies that shine when its their moment, and then they leave the orbit to give way to their creative period. In this gestation time, they leave us wondering about what might be in store when it’s their season to arrive once again. 1424447_662344490464319_103253994_n

The thing about Irish singer/songwriter Robert Doyle is that his songs always touch the human soul. They are always about life, the internal and external struggles one must face. No matter how we try to divorce ourselves from the politics of life, we can’t deny that everything affects us. In every discord, in every violence, life is always threatened. Sometimes it happens to people close to the artists ..and sometimes it happens to them.

We all want a better world and this is what the song Flags of Belfast is all about. The song features uilleann piper Eoin Dillon, who plays with the Irish band Kila, and also a singer named Aoife Dermody. Doyle explained that it is a traditional melody and the lyrics were written during the protests which took place in Belfast earlier this year about the flying of flags although the song is not political.

It has the unmistakable vocal style of Doyle which is very unique as I am yet to hear anyone who sings that way. It also has his signature guitar technique which he elaborated in the interview I did with him two years ago. Will this be the start of a new collection of songs that will become another album? Only Robert Doyle can say.

Robert Doyle – guitar and vocal
Aoife Dermody – vocal
Eoin Dillon – uilleann pipes

Flags of Belfast

Boundaries are drawn
On council walls
Divisions are made easily
When a vote was called
The decision did say
The flag won’t fly daily

The Union remains
But the North had changed
Some divisions are the same
Next time you hear the Lagan sound
See the flags of Belfast town

When the protests began
Where are the leaders now
Heard with nothing to say
If there was a chance or a call for calm
It was soon swept away

Living on the sides
Of religious divides
Faith not faded with time
Next time round can you ask the crown
Has she seen the flags of Belfast town

At the start of the night
Through empty streets with dark light
Marches begin to pass
Along an enclave
Calls of an old age
Armed guards to defend both sides

Segregation in schools
Teaches old rules
Lessons begin early
As the children plan
To not let tradition down
And wear the flags in Belfast town

With the city closed
Blockades along the roads
Wasn’t this all a thing of the past
A sectarian divide
A part of city lives
No need to portray any side

Masks leave faces with no names
One after another taking aim
As broken bottles fall all around
The flags of Belfast town

You can buy Flags of Belfast, a new single by Irish singer/songwriter Robert Doyle through iTunes.

Steven Hawson: Shamus and Steve’s Crazy Celtic Journey to Glasgow, Vol. 1

Steven Hawson: Shamus and Steve’s Crazy Celtic Journey to Glasgow, Vol. 1

STEVEN HAWSON: Shamus and Steve's Crazy Celtic Journey to Glasgow, Vol. 1

 Winner:Clean and intelligent fun with Steven Hawson’s Shamus and Steve’s Crazy Celtic Journey to Glasgow, Vol. 1

1 – Top O’ Da Morning
2 – Here We Go, Amigo
3 – Only One Room Left
4 – The All-You-Can-Eat Celtic Buffet Sketch
5 – The Boyisshecrankie Sketch
6 – Hold the Mayo
7 – Rockabye Steve

For those who are in need of something informative but at the same time entertaining then I better introduce you to something I stumbled upon this weekend. The album is called Shamus and Steve’s Crazy Celtic Journey to Glasgow, Vol. 1. by Steven Hawson. It’s  an audio comedy presented the creator’s notable talent for voicing different characters. He also created an interesting plot that really works.

The main characters of this story are Steve and his twin brother Shamus. Steve plays an accordion while his twin plays the banjo. Steve works as a manager of a fish and chips store while Shamus is a free-spirited entomologist. Their personalities are complete opposites. Steve is uptight while Shamus is cocky and loves adventures. It’s Shamus who actually dares Steve to go on a road trip. The aim is to attend the first annual Glasgow Celtic music festival in  Montana, with hopes of playing on stage with the great musicians. I found myself drawn to the banter between the two.

Steve: What’s really amazing in how negative in effect your exiting the womb three minutes before I did has had in your personality-

Shamus:I am the older and wiser than the two of us. It’s not your fault really, I simply have three more minutes of life experience than you do. So you need to follow my lead. It’s a clan obligation!

I am sure you will enjoy the Steve and Shamus series. A volume two is coming very soon. Although this is Celtic culture project, the recording also celebrates the cultural diversity of  the United States. There are several references that point to the connection of the Celts to other cultures. This happens when they start their journey.

For example, there is a part that explains the  deep connection between Mexico and Ireland as Steve and Shamus stop to buy burritos from their Mexican friend. For the delicious Indian curry, it is explained how India is deeply connected to the Celts. A quick stop to buy Chinese food( The All-You-Can-Eat Celtic Buffet Sketch)  uncovers a Scottish Celtic ensemble based in China. History goes further as how the Celts reached the tropics  in the 10th century. This little known but significant history happened in March 17 1065 in Northern England(The Boyisshecrankie Sketch). Wait until you get to  Hold the Mayo where Steve pretends to be Irish in order to impress the motel residents only to find himself in embarrassing situations. The recording closes with both of them halfway through their journey. I can’t wait to get the volume 2 and find out if Steve really got to become an accordion superstar during the Celtic music fest. It remains to be seen. Bring on volume 2!

If you want clean and intelligent fun, then better keep Steven Hawson in your Celtic radar. He is the funny man with great love for Celtic history. Buy the album here:


Now it is time to help out of Celtic musicians to make their projects come true and also to spread the word. Let’s do what we can to keep the spirit of Celtic music alive.

HELP MAXIM AND GERVAIS CORMIER MAKE AN ALBUM!! Watch the video and go to the indie gogo page for details.

Promotional video by John Breen:

Conor Lamb: A Closer Look At Réalta

Conor Lamb: A Closer Look At Réalta

Conor Lamb of Réalta

Conor Lamb of Réalta

Conor Lamb took the time to talk about the music of the trio Réalta between touring.

I can close my eyes and get lost in the music of Réalta. There is something sublime about it. A quality that revive the spirit and soothes the mind. Open The Door For Three is what I would call as an auspicious album.The maturity and confidence of the trio are showcased in every track. I am glad to discover that Conor Lamb took the time to answer questions. It is also an honor to have him as our featured artist of the week representing Réalta.


Open The Door For Three is one of the amazing releases this year. How did you three decide to create this album?

Ha, deciding to create the album is the easy part… actually doing it is the difficult bit! We had been playing together for a few years and we had some nice sets worked out so it just made sense to try and capture that moment in time and get it recorded. We put a lot of work into the album so it means a lot to us when people enjoy it, so thanks very much, glad you like it.

L to R:Aaron O'Hagan (Uilleann pipes, Flute, Whistles, Bodhran) Deirdre Galway ( Guitar, Bouzouki, Concertina) Conor Lamb (Uilleann pipes, Whistles)

L to R: Aaron O’Hagan (Uilleann pipes, Flute, Whistles, Bodhran)
Deirdre Galway ( Guitar, Bouzouki, Concertina)
Conor Lamb (Uilleann pipes, Whistles)

Realta toured with Altan. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh made an amazing recommendation of the band. How was the experience touring with Mairead and the rest of Altan?

Simply fantastic. Of course for all of us Altan have been a big influence on our music and their albums have always held a prominent place on our CD collection, so to tour with the band was a great experience. They really are a brilliant bunch of people… and you REALLY get to know people when you are on the road for a month! We had many a long chat about music and a few singing sessions into the early hours so an all round great experience. Mairead told us how Altan have always made a point of promoting Donegal songs and tunes and that we should try and do the same for our part of the world. I think this is a great point and one that we have taken on board. On that tour we were also away the excellent band The Outside Track and a singer/storyteller/matchmaker Willie Daly and again these were all a great bunch so we couldn’t have asked for better.

 Picking up a favorite is hard because everything in this album is beautiful.  But during a blind choice my finger landed on the beautiful air called Sliabh Geal gCua. Please tell me more about this track.
Glad you like it. Like many Irish airs, Sliabh Geal gCua originates as a song. This piece was written by Pádraig Ó Míléadha, who was born in Waterford and emigrated to Wales. The song describes Pádraig’s longing for the mountain close to the homeland where he spent his childhood. It is a tune we always enjoying performing.
Do you think The 2010 William Kennedy Piping Festival opened doors for the trio?  


Conor, Deirdre and Aaron

Me and Aaron have been going to the festival since we first started playing the pipes. So I think by attending the classes and concerts the festival helped open doors for us long before we could even scrape together the Kesh jig. This is why it was such a big deal for us when we were invited to play there as a band. A thoroughly nerve wreaking experience but also a very enjoyable one.
Two uilleann pipers and a female vocalist playing guitar and bouzouki. This is rare in traditional groups. How did you manage to make it work?
You think it works!? Hmm, that’s good to hear. It wasn’t a specific instrumentation line up we had in mind or had a reason for, we just got together to play tunes because we like it. And I think that is a good basis to start upon. To be honest, when you have two pipers in the band it also forces you to be creative with regards to arrangements and this can bring about some very interesting results. Also, I think people generally like the fact that it isn’t very common.

What’s the story behind Deirdre’s unique voice?

Hmm, don’t quite know how to answer that. That is just what she sound like, and we like it.

Tell me more about Aaron O’Hagan who also plays the bodhrán.

I have been friends with Aaron since we first started learning the pipes so we go back a long way. He is a great all round musician and also a brilliant pipe maker and reed maker. He studied at an instrument making course over in England and has been producing some great sets since. When you have two sets of pipes in the band it is great to have someone with his skills help keep the things working and in tune together.

Where can fans buy your album and things Realta?

You can also get the album from and Amazon, but it is best to go direct to our own website. Also, if you like the tunes, please say hello on our facebook page
Conor, you manage to be an amazing band spokesperson. How do you keep it together?
With great difficulty. Haha, only joking everyone plays their part in the band.

What are you and the rest of the band expect this year musically?

We have a few nice things coming up. We are just back from a two-week tour in Denmark, and over the summer we have festival gigs planned in Greece, Belgium, Netherlands and Brittany. Check out our website for the details.

 The world is getting a taste of the wonderful artists coming form Northern Ireland. This is an exciting year for Northern Irish artists. What’s your shout out to your fellow Northern Irish and also the rest of the listening crowd?

The amount of musical talent coming out of North and Ireland in general is superb. There are so many great new CDs coming out I simply can’t keep up. Certainly from the Belfast / Antrim direction a few names to keep an eye out for are At First Light, Craobh Rua, Brendan Mulholland, Grainne Holland, Ioscaid… the list goes on. The music is in safe hands.



Have a listen to this track written by Brendan Phelan and Performed by John Breen with Steven Collins on Mandolin. Such a soothing song with a beautiful message.


Eve Williams:On Songwriting and Meeting Moya Brennan(Interview)

Eve Williams:On Songwriting and Meeting Moya Brennan(Interview)

Eve Williams

Twenty Miles from Home debuts from Northern Ireland  through singer/songwriter and vocalist par excellence  Eve Williams. She piqued my interest  after I heard  the song Oblivion. It’s a kind of song that’s hard to ignore due to its unique  style. The subject of her voice is  one of the things that’s covered here. What gave way to  her singing that’s  full-bodied and expressive? You will learn more as you read this interview.

She has traveled more than twenty miles from home physically and artistically: having met one of her musical idols, Moya Brennan through singing live in the Clubeo. The album Twenty Miles from Home is  getting its official release very soon. Listen to her music or read her blog posts. You’d be captivated  by her wit. She addressed a lot of issues including the musical situation in Northern Ireland and how lightning struck the studio and knocked out all the equipment knocked out all the equipment! This woman knows how to put a good craic on top of her music. Finally, our featured artist Eve Williams!

Your new album Twenty Miles from Home is out of the studio. What’s the meaning behind the title?

Well, in a fit of insanity whilst I lived in Wiltshire I decided to drive to Edinburgh one winter day. It snowed and the journey was pretty hair raising! On my way home the next day my mother phoned about every half hour to make sure I was still alive. When I told her ‘I’m only twenty miles from home’ she was pretty relieved. I decided then I wanted to write something around that concept of being nearly home, but not quite. It’s an album about a journey, my journey. The title track is the ‘home’ of the album in that I co-wrote it with my compatriot, Paul McIlwaine and it is the most Northern Irish track on there. I wanted to opt for a Robin Mark sound on that song.

You create atmospheric songs with cinematic feel. What or who influenced your style?Eve Williams

I originally trained as an operatic coloratura soprano so I sent my youth singing Mozart and Puccini… I loved the Romantic era composers, especially Mendelsohn and Verdi, although I’ve toned it down a bit now! That combines with my Celtic roots on the new album. When I was nearly 8 my father was hit by a drunk driver and sustained a serious acquired brain injury. He was in a coma for six weeks and had a long recovery during part of which time my mother, sister and I lived with my maternal grandparents. Both my Nanny and Papa sang to us and they tended to teach us Irish folk tunes. It was something they gave us to cope with the trauma, their lasting gift to us. That’s why it tends to creep into the things I write.

You just performed in Moya Brennan’s Clubeo (Yay!). How was it?

Supermarvellous! Moya is a legend, so meeting her is really nerve-wracking until she speaks to you and you realise she is actually really lovely. There were so many talented musicians on stage that night… Jacquie Sharkey and the Henry Girls, as well as Moya. Plus some kids still in their teens whose writing was amazing. It really makes you hopeful for the future of Irish music.

You must have been chuffed after Moya and husband Tim Jarvis complimented your style of music.

Well, it was certainly a bit surreal. I felt it should have been me doing the complimenting! Moya asked me to say something about my craft before I sang and I thought how do you talk about music in front people who are part of the musical lifeblood of the country, who you’ve named on your facebook page as your biggest influence? But then again they’re so nice you felt that you could share your own relatively limited experience!

What are the exciting musical things waiting for you this year?

I’m going to be having an official album launch in Belfast in June, as yet to be confirmed. Coda Music in Edinburgh have kindly agreed to stock the album (also available on iTunes and CD Baby) and I’m going to be a guest on Ciaran Dorris’ Sony award – nominated show on Celtic Music Radio so a little trip to Scotland is on the horizon. Plus I hope to sing at the opening singers’ circle of the Fiddler’s Green Festival in Rostrevor on 21st July. All go! Still writing new material as well.

 I love artists based in  Northern Ireland.  What can you say about the current musical situation where you are?

Music in Northern Ireland had been pretty badly affected by the Troubles when people didn’t want to gather in large numbers at venues. When I left school if you wanted a career in the music industry people would have thought you were mad and you would have had to move to England (which, to be fair, I did for a while). Things are definitely looking up now. We have wonderful new venues like the Belfast Barge, we have music education centres like the Nerve Centre in Derry and the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast but unfortunately there is still a lack of infrastructure that needs to be addressed. We don’t have a lot of publishers or labels for example. I found it much, much easier to get airplay in the USA than in Northern Ireland when I released the album.

The main thing is the talent is there with people like Laura Stevenson and Realta whom I love at the minute.

Let’s go back to Twenty Miles from Home. What were the challenges and memorable things that happened while creating this album?

The album was written partly in Northern Ireland but mostly as I was studying for my Master of Music in Songwriting at Bath Spa University and living in Corsham in Wiltshire. It’s the culmination of a both brilliant and painful year.

The first and last tracks are sung with my niece, Scarlett Burnside and recorded at our family home in County Down. I wanted to encourage her to keep going with music and also her voice was perfect for what I was trying to convey… the idea the songs that we learn when we are young stay with us and influence us, actually being part of how we relate to the world. The challenges in recording a child’s voice weren’t as myriad as I thought as Scarlett learned the piece very fast and sang it very well in only a couple of takes, but the challenges in overcoming my bad recording were beautifully handled by James Scott.artworks-000028817256-dk7uv8-t200x200

One very memorable moment was recording the vocals to Oblivion with Andrew Giddings of Jethro Tull who produced the song. We had gotten through one chorus when lightning struck the studio and knocked out all the equipment. We had to nip off for tea and toast. That’s why on soundcloud the image for the song is a bolt of lightning!

My happiest memory is of writing I Need a Rock with the inestimable Dominik Sky, who is perhaps the best singer, songwriter, producer and friend on the planet. Carlsberg don’t make housemates, but if they did….

How do you approach songwriting ?

As in how did I first start writing? I wanted to get gigs as a singer and I didn’t want to record cheesy covers. Since I’d sung on film score with the Belfast Festival Chorus and done some improvisation I thought writing would be the logical next step.

I attended the UK Songwriting Festival at Bath Spa University in 2007 having gone to Bath for a hospital appointment that year. It was the first time I had written collaboratively and I met Iain Archer from Snow Patrol which was pretty cool…. Later I did the MMus in Songwriting at Bath Spa and it involved looking closely at what influences your writing, working with other writers, expanding your collection of writing tools and techniques….

If I had to encapsulate my writing I would say that when I sit down to write a song, I want something to come out that rings true to me and to whoever chooses to listen. Also, as a vocalist I tend to be very melody focused although I am starting to get into harmonics a bit more.

Please tell me the inspiration behind Oblivion.

Oblivion was co-written by myself and a Scottish classmate, Craig Murray (now releasing material under the name Archie Atholl). Craig had written a beautiful chorus melody on the piano and he very much wanted to do something with the word ‘oblivion’, which some felt was too strong a word but we really didn’t want to change it. Basically, here were we two Celts in the South of England creating a bit of a Celt-out! Craig is a classically trained pianist and I am a classically trained soprano so the classical/Celtic style just clicked.

‘Oblivion’ means a place of being totally forgotten, and the opposite to that is memoriam so we used the Tennyson poem In Memoriam when writing the lyrics, beginning with its famous statement

I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I feel it, when I sorrow most;

Eve Williams in Donegal

Eve Williams in Donegal

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

Tennyson wrote this about grief through bereavement rather than the loss of romantic love, but we took it in the direction of the loss of a relationship. We had both really struggled with grief in our lives but responded to it in very different ways. It was a very personal song and one which I now find quite painful, but I think its beauty comes from that and people have told me they find it comforting which I’m immensely proud of.

© Eve Williams/ Craig Murray 2012
Video by Aaron Buckley
Produced by Andrew Giddings

Are there plans for live shows to promote your album? And how do you feel about singing live now?

I love singing live. It’s nice to get a live audience’s reaction to the songs, and I love working with other musicians onstage. I’m planning to do a few shows in County Down and Scotland. Hopefully I’ll be making an appearance in Bath and London this summer, too. Dates can be found at

What are the things you love about being with other artists?

I learned so much about music by seeing how other people approach it and learning about their backgrounds and outlooks. I also love sitting down and trying to come up with a song or a new version of a song where everybody pitches in their own way of thinking and skills. It’s nice to be around people who share your passion, essentially.

What are the things you think everyone needs to avoid if they want to work with other artists?

Avoid being difficult to work with! The stereotype of the tortured genius is all well and good, but in any profession you have to behave professionally. Be respectful of others and their input.
June isn’t so far but for now where can listeners buy your album?

Several places… on CD baby here and iTunes here .

You can buy an actual CD from . I’ll even sign it for you!

Any parting message for our readers?

Keep supporting Celtic music! And thank you for reading this.

There you go folks. Another week of being graced by the almighty presence of Eve Williams. I envision more and more great tunes coming from this fascinating artist. Read more about her fascinating experience at the Clubeo here:



Introducing new acts. Apart from albums I review, I want to direct your attention to new acts coming out of the Celtic music world. Some are new bands with members from other bands. This happens when musicians start to branch out in search of other means to express their music. Sometimes creating new clusters of musicians with different styles can give way to interesting music. And so  here they are:


Formed: 1996

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: ’00s

In 1996 on Canada’s Vancouver Island, five acoustic multi-instrumentalists (Marc Atkinson, Chris Frye, Adrian Dolan, Glen Manders, and Jeremy Penner) came together to blend the music they loved and create a “folk world fusion” that would eventually earn them the 2003 Western Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Roots Release. Originally called the Bill Hilly Band, the five-piece spent four years perfecting their fun and rootsy sound in front of live audiences before stepping into the studio to record…
“Highway Signs and Highway Lines”New album by Thomas Johnston coming out soon!

“I am a singer-songwriter, guitar and bodhran player creating and performing original songs in a genre best described as IrishAmericana.

I am a partner at Tabhair Records and Music Publishing LLC with my son Stephen.

I am one-half of the musical duo Beannacht.”

Réalta:The Brevity and Grace of the Irish Spirit.

Réalta:The Brevity and Grace of the Irish Spirit.

Realta:Aaron O'Hagan (Uilleann pipes, Flute, Whistles, Bodhran)Conor Lamb (Uilleann pipes, Whistles)Deirdre Galway ( Guitar, Bouzouki, Concertina)


Style: Irish traditional

Members: Aaron O’Hagan (Uilleann pipes, Flute, Whistles, Bodhran)
Conor Lamb (Uilleann pipes, Whistles)
Deirdre Galway ( Guitar, Bouzouki, Concertina)

Golden melodies and shimmering sounds: these are the things that make Réalta a joy to listen to. No frills or effects. Just straight ahead traditional tunes but with undeniable freshness. Picture the sight of  flowers blooming in spring. They play tunes that’s moving yet also capable of being unobtrusive. This is exactly the main ingredient in recordings that stand the test of time. Which calls to mind the term: less is more.

This trio from Belfast are made up of Aaron O’Hagan (Uilleann pipes, Flute, Whistles, Bodhran), Conor Lamb (Uilleann pipes, Whistles) and Deirdre Galway( Guitar, Bouzouki, Concertina). Dierdre sings in that Janis Ian meets Judy Collins style. That’s the closest comparison I can give you because it is hard to categorize her voice. It sounds soft to fit folk but there’s also something kind of hippie to it. You be the judge but that’s my observation.

Fact: Celtic music is mood enhancer.  Something in  Patsy Tohey’s-The Exile’s Jig, reminds me of riding long distance, and that is the soundtrack. I love the bouzouki. It sounds like honey dipped with sunlight. The guitar strums are wispy. It is balanced by the round sound of the wooden flute. The uilleann pipes have this silver metallic crispness. If you are into instrumental music then Réalta should be in your priority list.

I like the way Sliabh Gael gCua (air) creates that floating sensation. We live  in a generation dominated by fast tracks. It gets too much sometimes. Slow tunes are awesome. I like an album that not only shows off acrobatic sounds but also lifts one’s soul with its slow airs.

Réalta creates impeccable arrangements. The Galtee has the kind of  tightness that’s comparable to a thread going through the needle. Réalta celebrates the ecstatic spirit of Irish music in its brevity and grace.


This Belfast based musical trio bring with them the intricate melodies and driving rhythms that make Irish music so loved throughout the world. While Conor and Aaron pursue the melody on dual uilleann pipes, whistles and flute, Deirdre explores the harmony and rhythms within the tunes through a dynamic accompaniment on guitar.

These three young musicians take a lively yet respectful approach to traditional music and have already established themselves on the Irish music scene. Between them, they have performed with a variety of established bands including Craobh Rua and Killultagh. Their experience includes venues and festivals such as The Smithsonian Folklife Festival (Washington), Festival Interceltico Accidente (Asturias), Alkmaar Irish Music Festival and Mulligan’s (The Netherlands), Randers Ugen (Denmark), Le Bono Folk Festival (Brittany), Tok Trad Festival (France), Girvan Folk Festival and Moniaive Folk Festival (Scotland), The Open House Festival (Belfast) and The William Kennedy Piping Festival (Armagh).



How are you? I am just enjoying the peaceful Easter Saturday tuning in to CRC FM  based in Castlebar, Ireland. My big thank you to Denis Charlton for playing my request. The song is called In a Lifetime by Bono and Clannad. Life is beautiful when there are sweet tunes around. Music makes the world go round. And where there is music, magic happens. My big thanks to my friend Damien McCarron for recommending the station to me. You know he has recommended a LOT to me and they contribute to my ideas.



I wrote an essay about Lunasa in Expats Post earlier today. It’s one of the online magazine where I act as a music contributor. Here’s a little excerpt: My first introduction to the fabulous music of Lúnasa was through their second album Otherworld. The marriage of deep, tempestuous colors to the  serene patterns of water in the album artwork conveys the deep connection of Irish music to the spiritual world. In the tradition that spans thousands of years, the passion and love for immortality is embodied in the melodies that explains the visual symmetry of the Celtic artwork. READ MORE.

Kevin O'Donnell

Kevin O’Donnell

Here’s the fourth teaser for the Kevin O’ Donnell album:

Making of

Kevin returned to the studio in 2012 when Maurice Lennon, of Stockton’s Wing, agreed to produce an album of Kevin’s material. Kevin and Maurice eventually settled on ten original songs for the project. Some were pulled from the drawer; while others – previously recorded by Kevin in the ‘80s and ‘90s – were retooled, rearranged, and in some cases, completely rewritten. The project inspired Maurice to write an original tune (A Letter Home) that serves as a prelude to the album.

More at:

John Breen

John Breen

Easter Lily -by John Breen is a perfect track today. The song has that warmness and down to Earth appeal that becomes a great tune to sing along with. Here’s the background:

Easter Lily recorded by John Breen and written by Brendan Phelan whose credits also include the hit Ballad’ Dublin in my Tears. This song is written about James Connolly’s wife Lillie Connolly who was originally from County Wicklow Ireland the same county as John Breen himself. James Connolly was a leader during the 1916 rising, having joined his workers army (the Citizen army) with the IRA to strike a blow for Irish independence and Socialism. James was murdered by the Brittish army for his part in the Easter Rising. He is an Iconic figure in Irish republicanism and indeed socialism globally. Lillie was from the Beautiful village in the east of County called Rathnew. James Connolly and Lillie nee Reynolds had seven children together, one of whom died tragically in a House fire. John Breen performs this with Steven Collins backing him on mandolin, banjo, vocals and bass guitar in what is their first recording together. The beginning of many more recordings to come…watch this space.…



Been a while since I last heard about Cornish band Dalla. A new video has been uploaded. This is part of the Scilly Folk Festival and I thought you might want to get a listen:

And some interesting pages….

Tuned Up, Cobblestone Sam, DÁN,Brenda Wootton and Dom Duff

Album review:Brendan Mulholland/ Brendan Hendry/Paul McSherry with Tuned Up!

Tuned Up is a project which lovers of traditional Irish music will love to collect. Energy, solid harmonies and top notch players in the trad scene are things that you will find here. From the start of track 1 (Reels: Fox in the town/In the tap room/The Belfast traveler) one can already say ‘ ah this is a trad album I have been looking for’. Big nod to Paul McSherry for kicking the tunes with his punchy guitar strumming that paves the way for all the wonderful tunes to come.

Plus points:

Liner notes. There is a comprehensive written by Kevin Crawford to introduce the trio. Kevin is known as the flute player and chatty man with Lúnasa. It is great to have his presence in this wonderful CD.


There are traditional and traditional sounding original compositions. There are ten tracks but there are divided into the following: reels, jigs, slow reels, air/hornpipe, waltz and polka. This is a great introduction to people who are trying to study traditional Irish music because of the description of the musical style in each track. Brendan’s flute playing really shines in track 7 with Air/hornpipe. Here you will really appreciate the round tunes produced by this wind instrument.

Sound quality:

I like spaces in between songs. They make the tracks breath and give you the time to get acquainted with the soul of the music. The sonic production is excellent. There is a balance of a really clean recording that reaches to the surface of the sound in each instrument. To cite an example, the warm fiddle sound of Brendan Hendry is captured really well in track 4(Slow reels/reels). There is that brightness in the instrument that calls to mind wood sprites dancing. There is also a good use of reverb in the midrange and it gives all tracks their natural warm sound.


They need to come up with another project like this one. There’s the undeniable chemistry between these three musicians and personally it was one of those satisfying and educational listening experience for me. Tune Up is the life of a party. Just crank it up and listeners will clap their hands and tap their feet.

Sound samples:


Debut: Cobblestone Sam the musical

Cobblestone Sam the musical promotional poster

New musical written by award winning singer/songwriter Dave Rooney and writer actor bill monks.
based on the life of a homeless temple bar character

Here is one musical even about an Irish unsung hero. This is a must see both for the music and for the story. I got to ask Dave about his involvement in the project and other important info:

“This musical started when I used to meet a homeless guy on the

street during my breaks on gigs in Temple Bar. He was homeless and we

got chatting. I only met him 4 or 5 times and we chat for about 15

minutes. He was in his eighties and he liked to reminisce. He told me

little bits about his life and and I listened with intrigue.


I didn’t see him for a few months and I asked some of the

homeless people where he was, and they said he passed away.

I was saddened by this and I decided to write a song about him.

and so was the birth of millionaire. This was to be the catalyst

for the whole project.”

About the production:  

“I hooked up with Bill Monks who is a writer/actor and we set

about putting his life in a story, an adaptation, based on limited

info about him, and how his life unfurled from our perspective.

I’d like to tour this musical in the states because it has an

Immigrant side to it. I feel it would be a draw for any of the diaspora.

I’ve written all the songs for the play. I did some re-recording and a bunch

of new songs all woven into the story line.


It’ll be held at the merchants arch in Temple Bar starting next

Monday September 10th,  and hopefully will be ongoing.

People are always asking (tourists) where they can meet real

Irish people and learn about real Irish life. I think this will

bring something real. It’s refreshing to be involved in something

new. I’ll be reaching a new audience and I think it’s a really good

angle to have the music exposed”.

Promotional videos:

Featured band: DÁN – making fine Irish music

I got a beautiful treat when I stumbled upon the tunes these musicians make. They are a trio called DÁN. The spare piano lines amidst the

DÁN – fine Irish music

traditional fiddling make them sound like no other. Groovy bass lines make that driving motion in the overall tranquility. I think I listened to them again and again because one time isn’t enough. And oh, they are from Germany. This isn’t the first time I featured German bands that make amazing Irish music. Check them out:


Flashback: Crowdy Crawn (Brenda Wootton) – No Song To Sing(1974)

Here is one relaxing track uploaded via a vinyl recording(You can hear the nostalgic scratches) by the late Cornish folk singer Brenda Wooten. This is a duet performance with Rob Bartlett.


Dom Duff: From Brittany to Manchester

Singer/songwriter Dom Duff has traveled a lot lately. There is a warm reception towards Breton music these days and It is because of musicians like him who continue to inspire the awareness of Breton music and culture.

Tremolo @ The Black Box and Whelans

The guys of Tremolo are geared up for their performance at The Black Box in Belfast this Monday 23rd, and Whelans in Dublin this Thursday 26th. I have been following them since they came out. You Dublin people are so lucky.  Folks don’t miss them. I am sure they will give an ear-widening and jaw dropping super performance!

Donall Donnelly- (Fiddle)

Donncha Moynihan- (Guitar)

Stijn van Beek- (Uilleann Pipes, Low Whistle)

Karl Nesbitt- (Flute, Bouzouki, Bodhran)

Get updates from their facebook:


Listen to Clanú

Irish musicians make great tracks with this band!

Clanú is a four piece band that needs your best audio speakers. They play slow and fast tunes. These musicians also add atmosphere to every track. Clanú combines Irish trad music and Bluegrass. You will  love the vocals too. Songs like the moving Bruach na carriage baine has cinematic appeal. The Outlaw Joseph Emmet sounds like something out of a Western movie. Into the Sun glides playfully into your mood. She Came To Me Softly is a ballad laden with beautiful vocals and excellent instrumental arrangement. The House Set is a jig rooted to the band’s love for traditional music. Slow Whiskey is a slow remake of Whiskey in the Jar which is refreshing to listen to.

They are based in Belfast.  I attached links below where you can get resources about these guys. You can contact the band through Download Ancient Walls from itunes:


Clanú are a four piece band spanning two generations and the influences of each generation comes through in their music. From the fast paced modern Trad of Damian and Niall to the even faster contemporary folk and bluegrass sound (or greengrass as we call it) of Dee and Barry. With the wide range of instruments they play, they manage to produce a sound which enthralls crowds around the country and beyond. Add to this the song-writing and tune-writing capabilities that all the members possess and you have a unique yet familiar trad / folk sound that will have you dancing, singing or crying and sometimes all at the same time.