Lorcán Mac Mathúna / The Arrows that Murder Sleep

Musicians :

Lorcán Mac Mathuna

Eoghan Neff

Seán MacErlaine

Daire Bracken

Recorded mixed and mastered by Liam Grant.

Recorded in Griffith College, Dublin.

Images by Rónán O Reilly

Texts and Graphic design by Lorcán Mac Mathúna


A Beautiful Album, The Arrows that Murder Sleep: Just in time for Samhain!

Nothing is better than waking up at three in the morning (after sleeping more than 8 hours) to the music of this fantastic Sean-Nós singer. His name is Lorcán Mac Mathúna and he is from Dublin. His newest album is The Arrows That Murder Sleep.The music glides in and out reflecting the ancient Irish atmosphere. It is an album for those who appreciate Irish music in its purest sense. This is the style/type that has drawn me to the genre. The vocal music. His voice represents the ancient and the modern Ireland. Backed by notable names in the industry, The Arrows that Murder Sleep is highly recommended for those who are passionate about the works of Iarla Ó Lionáird, Niamh Parsons, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Aoife Ní Fhearraigh and many more.

The album has twelve songs and features contributions from Eoghan Neff, Seán MacErlaine, Daire Bracken and the compositional beauty of Martin Tourish. This album also represents the best of Mac Mathuna’s compositions over a six-year period.

So what is the idea behind this album? I got this from the TradConnect Review:

The Arrows that Murder Sleep is a collection of sensual moments of ancient Irish literature, brought fully to life by a group of virtuoso musicians with powerful melodies and dynamic, cinematic, arrangements. It features songs taken from three major commissioned cycles (including the millennial celebration of the Battle of Clontarf, and the Life of Colmcille commissioned by the 2013 All-Ireland Fleadh cheoil, Derry). It includes two songs in English and nine in Irish. And it includes one solo Sean-Nós song (Contae Mhuigheo) and an instrumental response to that; (Paddy Lynch’s ship).

I love all of the songs in the album but River Roe is perhaps my personal favorite. I have to remind you that though this album might not appeal to all types of music listeners, this will definitely appeal to SERIOUS lovers of Irish music.

From the first track to the last, The Arrows That Murder Sleep unfolds like a beautiful but not hurried movie. Everything almost feels abstract as melodies and vocals flow in and out seamlessly. The talents and love that the musicians put in this project are commendable and I hope to see more releases like this in the future; and yes more albums from Lorcán Mac Mathúna. A big thank you to TradConnect for the sounds!

Here’s the wonderful text from the artist:


Putting these songs together wouldn’t be possible without the support and generosity of many people. From the people who contributed their skills and talents in making this album to the closer family relations who have given support and time to make it possible. Thanks to my musical companions: Martin, Eoghan, Seán, an Daire for starters. And Liam for taking on the task of capturing the music. Special thanks to friends and family. Especially to my constant companions ar an domhain mór seo: Emma, Aoibha, Meadbh “Tiny the Bearie,” and Fiach MacHugh.

Thanks also to those who commissioned works from me and the musicians on this album over the years. To Martin Harte in the Temple Bar Company; to Eibhlín Ní Dhochartaigh of Culturlann Uí Channáin and the Derry all Ireland Fleadh; to Armagh Pipers Club’s Brian Vallely; and Liam Carson of Imram. To an Comhairle Ealaíonn, CC Átha Cliath, and the NI Arts Council.

Thanks also to Brian Fay and the DIT fine arts students; To Rónán whose beautiful paintings adorn this digibook;  Úna for the technical know how ; Manus Ó Dhomhnaill and Mícheáil Ó Bhruadair for putting it on record at Port na dTrí Namhaid and death row respectively; to Dad and Mam for the love and perseverance and for getting the kids to love sean-nós. An tOll. Damian Mac Manus ó TCD agus Ann Marie Dowling as ucht cabhair len Seana-Ghaeilge. And to an tArd Rígh, Cormac Mac Cearbhaill, for his far seeing Copyright precedent in C.558 AD. We artists really needed that.

This album was produced with the support of An Comhairle Ealaíonn.

Buy the album here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lorcanmacmathuna1

Visit his official website: http://www.lorcanmacmathuna.com

Thoughts and Music this Christmas

Thoughts and Music this Christmas

Still with Allison Crowe… About the song: Canadian poet, singer-songwriter, sailor and islander Andy Vine (http://www.andyvine.com) composed this song in the late 1970s. While music-making in St. John’s, Newfoundland he discovered “Woman of Labrador”, the remarkable autobiography of Elizabeth Goudie. Of Inuit, Indian, French and English roots, Goudie (née Blake) was born in 1902 in Mud Lake, Labrador. At 18 she’d wed a trapper, raising their eight+ children in the brush – her memoirs recounting life and travails and dwellings from a trapper’s “tilt”, and log cabins to a Summer lake-shore fishing house and beyond – all that comes with and from such a pioneering existence in territory that encompassed family homes in Mud Lake, North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay To read the complete description, go the You Tube link: http://youtu.be/uYBp3ooX-2Q About the song:  From Corner Brooker Allison Crowe’s album, “Newfoundland Vinyl II”, comes this stirring song of a shipwreck and brave rescue efforts that occurred on November 29, 1875. To read the complete description, go to the You Tube link: http://youtu.be/LEM9DIRAGyk After listening to Souling and The Newfoundland Vinyl !! repeatedly, I notice something I never mentioned in my last article. Allison Crowe has a strong and distinctive voice. Singer/songwriters or musical artists who play their own instruments have always been associated with having soft singing voices. There are those who do have powerful voices but this is rare. Feel free to correct me but this is my observation. I think it comes with the fact that singing while playing an instrument is hard. You got to pick at least one instrument to channel your skills and emotions. Pop divas have their voices as their primary instrument. And for instrumentalists who don’t sing, they channel their power to that instrument they are using. But to master both is a challenge-I think. I have tried performing before and it is really hard to channel intense emotions when you are strumming a guitar. It feels awkward. When you belt out a tune, you do it easily when you are just holding a mic. And this is what I have noticed in Allison Crowe’s singing. She sings like a pop/rock vocalist but she is also that woman with the guitar. But he is certainly not Suzanne Vega or Judy Collins. She’s more like the late Nina Simone with bit of Natalie Merchant.

Holiday albums I listen to year after year.
The list of Holiday albums I listen to change year after year depending if there are artists who are able to squeeze into my top 5. This usually happens upon new releases. But here are the albums that made it to my holiday list which I will be listening to next year.
  1. Loreena McKennitt- Midwinter’s Night Dream: This Canadian artist never fail to dazzle me with her amazing voice and marketing smarts. What is Christmas without the elfin appeal of McKennitt’s music?
  2. Enya-And Winter Came: Every year I listen to this because her arrangements bring down the snow. I won’t say more but perhaps you know what I mean.
  3. Moya Brennan-An Irish Christmas: After her US tour, she will be performing a Christmas special in Ireland. The first lady of Celtic music continues to dazzle.
  4. Souling-Allison Crowe: Yes she made it to my top 5 and I know I will be playing this album next holiday season.
  5. Together at Chritmas-Various artist: I want to thank Anita Daly for giving me this sampler as there are many amazing Celtic artists out there worth discovering.

*** Martin Tourish and how Celtic music continues to inspire me. I sometimes get asked, how I am able to keep up my passion for blogging . Especially that it’s been years since I started this baby? The answer is simple. Music. When I hear something that I like , that tune inspired me to write something about it. It is like discovering a beautiful plant that you just want to take care of it because seeing it bloom give you much pleasure.1458141506_bb96e77eb0 Of course it’s been obvious that I also like other types of music. And this liking for other styles of music made me marvel at the beauty of Celtic music. Because it remains different and ‘not mainstream.’ We all have our degree of elitism and this is my little elitist guilt ….and well, let’s face it, you don’t want to be part of the herd right? You gotta find your niche and hone your creativity around it. For me the sound of uilleann pipes, harp and other Celtic instruments inspire me. I love hearing them and also the comments that I get from people when they say that my music is something they could not find anywhere and that when they hear it they are soothed. So let me give you a taste of this wonderful playlist by the very talented Martin Tourish. This is presented by Trad Connect, the leading site for lovers of traditional Irish music. http://www.martintourishmusic.com

My Christmas thoughts. Warning it’s a little bit personal. 
Never be afraid to be vulnerable. I read that via Flipboard this week. I must confess, one of my fears to bare my weakness for anyone to say. And so I hid behind the guise of a blogger who just wants to post updates and ‘new stuff.’ Of course the ‘enterprise’ can be about that and building a brand. But that’s way behind me now. What I just want to do is to share music, and my thoughts about music. And perhaps a bit of my ‘voice.’
I know everyone has his or her own holiday plans. It could probably involve visiting relatives or holding a party. Mine is receiving relatives, playing Yuletide tune, completing a book by Anne Rice about werewolves of mid-winter and watching great movies. My aunt who raised me to become who I am today passed away last May 16, 2013. So it’s the second Christmas without her. I have to tell you, it is not an easy thing to go through year after year. But she also raised me to be strong and despite the pain I might be feeling inside, the ‘show must go on.’ There are moments of crippling pain especially when I am alone. There are moments when I feel I lave lost my relevance. I feel that she took the meaning out of existence with her, when she went away. As if living is a just a task I have to do because there is nothing else to do but to endure and to live for others.
I want to thank everyone who followed this blog through the years since its first launch in 2009. So may things happened. Amazing and tragic things. I met amazing people through this blog. And I know nothing lasts forever. We don’t have inexhaustible source of energy. Who knows one day I might stop writing simply because I could no longer go on. Perhaps because I have moved on to another venture. But I just want to say that this is my baby. I nurtured it, poured my love and sometimes pain to it. And I tell you, there is one thing that makes life beautiful and that is the feeling of being connected. That we are all part of a bigger picture, whatever that is. That we are not alone. No one is insignificant.
For my late aunt:
To my late aunt whom I call mama. You were the meaning of my life. And when all the stars fade and I have given all I have to give to life, your smiling face will be the last thing I will see…your voice , the last thing I will remember. And the universe will go on.
Coming up…
I will be posting a review of North Star by Kyle Carey
Trad Music in Space played by Cady Coleman.

Trad Music in Space played by Cady Coleman.

So what’s this heat about Astronomy in a Celtic music blog? Find out more as I write about Astronaut  Cady Coleman with my special guest, Irish musician Martin Tourish.

I worked hard on my Robert Burns zeen that I just realize I have prepared nothing today. So I am just meandering through words and phrases and even creeping at the status posts all over facebook and Google + to find a spark of inspiration. Hey, I just realized something. I was having an interesting conversation with young genius Martin Tourish a few weeks ago about Astronomy. I was planning to write and article about it. I even asked him if he is interested in contributing an essay. But Martin is wrapped up in the mastering of his new album that I guess this is much of a bother although he always responds to shout outs. So I will take it from here. So glad that I still have the photos he showed me about an Irish American astronaut who played music in space. Yes yes you got it. She played a wooden flute and all sorts of flute up there in space!

First of all, I love Astronomy. From space explorations, black holes, galaxies and even quasars-you  name them all, I will devour anything about space like a greedy black hole, that no humor can even escape haha. I found out I am not the only one who is crazy about the subject. Most of the traditional Irish musicians I interviewed are also fascinated with the same thing.

History tells us that the Celts were fascinated with astronomy and they used the stars as guides on their journeys. Heavenly bodies like the Pleiades and the red giant Aldebaran or the eye of the bull held special meaning to them. So it is not surprising that modern Celts became astronauts. Cady Coleman is one fine example!

Traditional Irish music has now boldly gone where no trad musician has gone before-even in space. So we were talking and then the topic about Cady Coleman popped up. I also read that she is also called by the name Katy,  Cady and Catherine.

Martin said,  ” I was very lucky to meet astronaut Katy Coleman a good few times. She was on the international space station – we’d some great conversations. I’m a huge fan of Stephen Hawkings!” (Down below is a picture taken from the page of Tim Edey. He actually gave me his blessing to use this one picture).

Cady Coleman and Martin Tourish

Leaving London and saying goodbye to legendary Nasa astronaut and fine flautist Cady Coleman and young genius Martin Tourish. Photo by Tim Edey.

He further added: ” I got to wear the jacket she wore in space – you missed that photo on my Facebook pictures!” I saw it indeed. “What an amazing meeting. She’s lovely – have you seen the clip of her playing Irish music in space?”

I told him no. So he sent me the the link to the clip and here it is:

“We played a tune at the royal Albert hall in June!Such a privilege! She’s so lovely. It’s with the Chieftains playing on the background. It was such a thrill. We rehearsed together back stage before playing – she’s a great player!Perfect! Anytime I see the space station go past Ireland I think of us playing An Dro back stage!”

He sent me another youtube link. “And here we are at the Royal Albert Hall” –

My conversation with Martin Tourish proved to be very fruitful. And Cady Coleman’s story gave with that warm feeling that will linger.

A Life of Music: Martin Tourish Interview


Plus: Sahara and video plugged by Luke Fraser.




Martin Tourish talks to The Celtic Music Fan about composing, performing and the top 5 albums that influenced him musically.

It is great when few conversations happen beyond the interview. Our guest this week is prolific musician/composer Martin Tourish who is in the middle of his PhD studies. He lent his time to answer several questions related to his career and Irish music in general. He has just started mixing his new album. We had a little craic about Donegal winning the All Ireland Gaelic football final. So everyone over there is happy! Christmas is a great time to visit the place for the Frankie Kennedy Winter School.

According to Martin: “In Donegal they pass one fiddle around everybody in the room and everyone has to play whether they can barely play a tune or are brilliant. There’s always huge respect.” He is working on a lot of projects. I got to hear songs from An Tain. It is about the Irish saga set into music. Years ago I was over Makati and stumbled upon a copy of The Táin (1969, Oxford University Press) by Thomas Kinsella and that book opened  the whole new world of Irish myths to me. So to know that a musician is doing another interpretation of that is amazing news.  According to Martin: “This album that we made is based upon the book but it’s sung here using a proto-gaelic language as found in the oldest known text.” The song interpretations he made for this project are haunting, beautiful and captivating. The interesting use of modern and traditional instruments are fascinating. So are the vocals and scales that were applied. There’s so much atmosphere and richness in the melodies. So even if you don’t understand Gaelic you will be able to follow the plot as long as you have read the book.

I also have the honor to hear his Midori Suite. The Japanese/ Irish piece he wrote for a charity in Japan. The classical training he had took a front seat here. Martin could well be a movie composer of epic scenes. I love the combination of Japanese and Irish styles especially the part with the harp and female vocals. And then I got the Raincoats of Dijon – a track he recorded for Naxos with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. This is another moving piece of a different style. It’s a waltz that crosses between Strauss and Disney Classics. With all these in mind, I realize that one day Martin Tourish will be making lots of music that other musicians will play. So yes I am crossing my fingers.

Here’s a little trivia: When he was in the Philippines, he was with Cape Breton fiddler Gillian Boucher, Irish fiddler Fergal Scahill, Mickey Martin and the sean nós dancer Emma O’Sullivan. They were playing a charity concert for the kids of smokey mountain so they formed the band just for that. He actually only met them either on the plane or over in Manila. A Trad session in a jeepney is one of his goals! He further stated that he enjoyed the experience and he felt totally at home.

Now on with our interview:

Hi Martin, welcome to our artist of the week interview. It is an honor to have you as my guest. I read your bio and it describes your life as one devoted to music. How’s the experience writing articles for the “Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland”?

It’s an honor to be your guest! It was a great experience to write a number of articles for the Enyclopaedia of Music in Ireland. The research unearthed a great deal of new information on the subjects, only a small amount of which could be included in each of the articles. Regarding the article that I wrote on the piano accordion, reading the first description of the instrument being performed in Ireland was one of those magical moments. I often pass the venue in Dublin in which it was first heard and imagine the music that might have been played!

You came from Donegal which brought us legendary bands like Clannad and Altan. I see that your cousin Ciaran plays for Altan. Your childhood must have been a very musical one.

Donegal is an amazing place and recently, I had the honor of playing a concert with Altan and Clannad at the Fleadh in Cavan. There actually wasn’t music in my immediate family but that was probably a good thing. I had no idea that there was any difference between genres and so I played everything I heard and could reproduce. This openness to every type of music has stayed with me since. Once the heart is in it, it will be good!

 Your first album was released in 2005 which gained top reviews and honors. You are working on a new one right? Please tell us what listeners can expect in this new album.

The new album has been developed over the past four years and it is quite different to Clan Ranald, and maybe quite different from anything else! The aim of the album was to try to be as honest as possible in trying to capture the spirit of the music, moment, and musicians who took part. It’s almost entirely comprised of my compositions, with some reworking of traditional material. Really, it documents the interactions and experiences of the past four years and I hope that people will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed it. We’re mixing it at the moment so stay tuned!

You’ve been around the world and one of those places you’ve been to was the Philippines! How was the experience?

The Philippines trip was amazing and I remember every minute of it! The people were really warm and friendly and in particular, I remember stumbling across a singer/songwriter night in a bar in Makati City and playing piano in the house band before going to the birthday party of one of the musicians! I really hope to make a return visit at some point in the future and this time, stay longer than four days!

What is it about being in the trad scene that you like?

I’m actually involved in many different scenes in Ireland but it’s the people that make each scene a joy to be involved in. The trad scene in Dublin is particularly interesting because being a small city, musicians from different scenes get an opportunity to meet and explore each other’s traditions. Everything seems to exist side-by-side and one can dip in and out of each when the mood is right!

 What do you plan to accomplish before the year ends and what’s in store for 2013 for you musically?

I hope to have both my PhD and album completed before the year is done and for 2013, I’m hoping to focus almost solely on music. As always, I’ll be playing with various musicians under my own name and with a wide variety of other musicians, bands and projects, specifically with the bands of which I’m a member: The Convergence Ensemble, and Deep End of the Ford. I’m working around the clock on plans for 2013 but at the moment, they’ve to be kept under wraps. But every year something amazing always seems to happen and if that trend continues, it’ll be better than anything I could have imagined!

What are the challenges composing music in the traditional style and do you have other musical styles that you are working on as of the moment?

Well I never compose music as a task, it just flows out in response to something when it’s ready and sticks if it’s good! It’s the most natural thing in the world and when I compose a piece of music, it’s usually fully formed. A few days ago I wrote eight tunes in about two hours for a sean-nós dancing tutorial DVD by the dancer Mary Beth Taylor, which is to be released before the end of the year. The chemistry and rhythm from her steps made the music flow and those are always special moments. Following from my Japanese – Irish piece called The Midori Suite, I’ll be writing a concert length program of material in this style. I’ll also be in Italy in October producing an album of songs by the novelist Oscar McLennin, and working on a program of world music in Brittany in November with the clarinetist Dylan Gully. Plenty of diversity!

Can you name us the top 5 albums that influenced you?

Altan’s Runaway Sunday (But really all of their albums!)

Mary Black’s Mary Black Live (particularly for Steve Cooney’s song Just a Journey)

Frank Cassidy’s Níl Gar Ann (aesthetically and creatively)

Alyth McCormack & Triona Marshall’s Red & Gold (a masterclass in tone, colour and great story telling)

Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem For My Friend

I enjoyed chatting with Martin Tourish and I am sure this interview has given you an idea about his music and projects. You can listen to his music through:


Sample videos:

Featuring Ciarán Tourish (fiddle), Martin Tourish (piano accordion), Tim Edey (guitar), Tríona Marshall (harp), Alyth McCormack (voice), Thomas Charles Marshall, Philip Horan (shakuhachi), Fran Marshall (voice) & Morgan Crowley (voice) performing ‘Suite for Japan’, composed by Martin Tourish. This was recorded at the Aid Japan for Children concert at St. Ann’s Church, Dawson St., Dublin, to aid and support Japanese children effected by the 2011 earthquake & tsunami. Recorded and edited by Martin Moylan on behalf of Aid Japan for Children, and provided subsequently to LiveTrad.com.

The last part of the concert was with a special appearance by
14.08.2010, Kilcar, co.Donegalh

A Great Documentary which Martin also appears in.

A documentary by journalists / film makers Malou Fickling and Robert Gustafsson about Traditional Irish music in a changing Ireland. Set in rural and urban Ireland (Donegal and Dublin) this piece takes a look at the history, themes, preservation and evolution of Irish music. Musicians interviewed include Martin Tourish (TG4 Young Musician of the year 2008), Danny Diamond and Dinny McLaughlin.

Language: English Version

This production was entirely conceived, shot and edited by Malou Fickling and Robert Gustafsson. It was created for a final college project for Journalism and Media Production at Linnaeus University, Sweden.

For more information email Malou Fickling at Malfic@hotmail.com


Proud to announce the release of Sahara’s latest CD ‘A New Beginning’ – now available from iTunes, Amazon and other music outlets!!

Samples are available in the link below. I found them totally uplifting and beautiful. The production is superb. A must have for those who love genre bending music that exudes warmth and elegance.


Connect with them through:




Upon Recommendation from Luke Fraser

Casual lookin’ Luke.

Luke Fraser plays guitar/vocals for The Bombadils and Raftmen. Once in a while he drops by for a chat. This is one of the videos that made it to our conversation.

From “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn”, recorded live at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 19, 2009. Tunes composed by Liz Carroll; choreography/improv by Nic Gariess.

For information about tickets, CD recordings, and celtic radio programming, visit http://www.wgbh.org/celtic

Copyright 2010