The Dead Kings song by Irish poet Francis Ledwidge (performed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna)

The Dead Kings song by Irish poet Francis Ledwidge (performed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna)


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The Dead Kings artwork. 

I always think that the soul of Irish music is in the sean-nós style of singing. Why? Because it is a sound not like any other. It has that stillness that is both ancient and haunting. For someone to sing that, one has to embody the the atmosphere of the old Ireland. One song came to my attention recently and it is called The Dead Kings. Here’s a brief background provided by performer Lorcán Mac Mathúna. According to him, it’s a recently (live) recorded song by the Irish poet Francis Ledwidge, who died in 1917.

Complete soundcloud link-

Ledwidge was known as the poet of the Blackbird. He was killed in the First World War in Paschendael on July 31 1917.

It is such an inspiration to see artists continue to perfect and pay homage to this wonderful musical art form. I would like to hear more of these.

Additional info: Recorded live at Musictown2017 during The Book of the Dead at The Chester Beatty Library. Written by Francis Ledwidge, music composed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna and Eamonn Galldubh. Performed by Lorcán, Éamonn, and Martin Tourish



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:

Visit his official website:

Emma Kate Tobia: Meet Ireland’s Angelic Soprano

The  album comes with  surprises that will charm both Classical and Traditional fans from all over the world.

The first time I received this CD  Aisling na nGael I was thinking that it’s one of those over the top vocal renderings. I do own a lot of classical records but they have their own time and usually when I listen to music , it has to suit my mood.

This one comes as a great surprise. Her voice can move from purely sean nos into really lyrical soprano. There is not only purity in the way she delivers these traditional pieces but there is also nuance and wonder. The orchestral arrangement is also excellent. The choir and the ambiance add to what is already good about this album.

About this album:

The CD, co-produced by Frank Buckley, Niall “Herbie” Macken and Emma Kate, was recorded in St Multose Church in Kinsale and the lofty acoustics fit perfectly with Buckley’s arrangements.

“Aisling na nGael introduces traditional Irish Songs to the world as rich orchestral and choral masterpieces,” says Emma-Kate.

You may want to buy into that.

Aisling na nGael (An Irish Dream) brings together 12 songs (Eanach Cuain, An Mhaighdean Mhara, An Droimeann Donn Dílis, Fill, Fill, a Rún Ó and Carrigdhoun, among others) sung normally unaccompanied in a setting that does the lyrics justice and brings out the natural poetry of the Irish language. Three songs (Deus Meus, Ag Críost an Síol and Óró ’s é do Bheatha ’Bhaile) feature The City of Cork Male Voice Choir and The Chorus of Opera Cork.(Info from

Listen to her in MySpace:

Thanks to Daly Communications for sharing this wonderful album with me.

Remembering Seán Ó Riada’s (1931-1971) Timeless Song (With Lyrics and Translation)

Seán Ó Riada (1 August 1931 – 3 October 1971) composed this timeless piece “Women of Ireland“, or “Mná na h-Éireann.

by Kate Bush

By Sinead O’Connor

Ta bean in Eirinn a phronnfadh sead damh is mo shaith le n-o
‘S ta beann in Erinn is sa binne leithe mo rafla ceoil no seinm thead
Ata bean in Eirinn is niorbh fhearr le beo
Mise ag leimnigh no leagtha ! gcre is mo tharr faoi fhod

Ta bean in Eirinn a bheadh ag ead, liom mur bhfaighinn ach pog
0 bihean ar aonach, nach ait an sceala, is mo dhaimh fein leo
Ta bean ab fhearr lom no cath is cead dhiobh nach bhfagham go de
Is ta cailin speiruil ag fear gan bhearla, dubghranna croin

Ta bean a dearfaidh da siulainn leithe go bhfaighinn an t-or
Is ta bean ‘na leine is is fearr a mein no na tainte bo
Le bean a bhuairfeadh baile an mhaoir agus clar thin eoghaln
Is ni fhaicim leigheas ar mo ghalar fein ach scaird a dh’ol

There is a woman in Ireland who would give me jewels an my fill to drink, a woman
Who would think my simple singing swelter than the music of strings, a woman
Who would prefer me dead…
There is a woman in Ireland who would be jealous if I got one kiss from elseone…
There is a woman… and I see no cure except the flowing of drink.

Afro Celt Sound System are Back!

My goodness! I just realized I haven’t finished my article for today. So instead of giving you full I am just giving you one news. But not to disappoint you, I will post some videos here which you might find interesting. Anyway see you tomorrow or the next day…

This video features Peter Gabriel on vocals.

This one is with Iarla O’Lanaird

If your musical orientation is somewhere between Peter Gabriel and Dead Can Dance, then I’m sure you never passed an opportunity to get the first album of The Afro Celt Sound System titled Volume 1: Sound Magic when it first came out in 1996. In the Science lab of sound, imagine this:  Iarla O’Lanaird’s sean nos singing meets African and Irish instruments seal that off with irresistible rhythm built from modern technology and bam! You get one of the most powerful concoctions that can render people speechless and hypnotized. To quote from their website: Released in 1996, Sound Magic combined acoustic performances on bodhran, talking drum, Celtic harp, African kora, uilleann pipes and Irish whistles with 21st-century programming and grooves, and married ancient singing traditions from Ireland and Kenya to keyboard drones and techno beats. Rather than sounding kitschy or disparate, the end result was surprisingly cohesive… and beautiful. Getting that hulk of an album, I’m sure you became a fervent collector up to this time when they have established themselves in the music world(after a 5-year hiatus, they are back this year with an album and tour news).  They caught my attention when they performed live in Gael Force way back ’97 an from then on, I never let the band off my radar. More at and
Upcoming Shows ( view all )
Jul 15 2010 12:00P
Hebridean Celtic Festival, Scotland. GB
Jul 17 2010 12:00P
Colours of Ostrava, Czech Republic. CZ
Jul 25 2010 12:00P
Womad UK, Charlton Park, UK. US
Aug 29 2010 12:00P
Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Shrewsbury, UK GB
Sep 4 2010 12:00P
Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Ireland IE
Nov 2 2010 7:30P
Barbican London, London, UNITED KINGDOM Find Tickets

How to define “Sean-nós” style of Singing.


Sean-nos or “old style’ of singing as Gaelic suggests has been part of Irish music for ages. I would pull reference to singers like Iarla O’ Lionaird and,Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan among the many. According to, sean-nos can be:

1. A bare voice (not ‘sweet’, with a certain ‘natural fierceness’).

2. No vibrato.

3. No dynamic. (loud/soft)

4. Emotion is expressed through the use of vocal ornamentation, which varies from singer to singer.

5. Free, non-metronomic rhythm used by the singer.

6. The meaning of the words dictates singing from the heart, with ‘soul’. (Without dynamic – see above).

7. Often there is an emphasis on the consonants l, m, n, r to facilitate the free rhythmic pulse and to create a drone effect.

8. Occasional nasalisation.

9. Music takes precedent over the lyric.

10. Often extra meaningless syllables are introduced, e.g., “Thug (a) me”.

11. The use of the glottal stop/dramatic pause.

12. It’s unaccompanied.

13. The melody varies from one verse to the next, and from one performance to the next. This is often referred to as the ‘variation principle’.

14. And last but not least, the singing is in the Irish language.

The whole article can be found here.

Here is an example of Sean-nos singing. And of course my personal favorite Iarla O’Lionaird

Julie Fowlis Admiration Day

I don’t really want to turn this site into  Julie Fawlis admiration page. But today I have been listening to “Mar A Tha Mo Chridhe” and this Scottish  vocalist and multi-instrumental lady has been making waves.  She’s awesome.  You should hear her. So I found these random pics from the net and decided to out them here. Just to smile while listening to her gorgeous voice.

Check out her officicial  MySpace page.