Sunday, February 13, 2011

From Donegal: T with the Maggies

Donegal is in the far northwest of Ireland, a land of sea and mountain, much of it a place where Irish is spoken as often as English, all of it a place where music is respected and loved. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, and Moya Brennan all spent time growing up in Donegal, and knew each other in those days. Each has made a top notch career in music, through work with bands, groups, and as solo artists. Over the years they have crossed paths at family twith the maggies at celtic connections 2011 copyright kerry dextergatherings and at festivals, and have thought that they really ought to do something together. Now they have.

From the first notes of the first song at the City Halls Grand Hall in Glasgow, the four women wove a tapestry that included intricate harmonies, soulful lead singing, fine playing, and more than that, connections of deep and long lasting friendship among the artists, and deep and long lasting love for the land, as well. The landscape, the people, and the history of Donegal were all present in the music they shared.

It was a sharing, too, rather like friends telling tales around the fireside. Notwithstanding the slightly formal setting at City Halls, listeners were immediatelymairead ni mhaonaigh at celtic connections 2011 copyright kerry dexter drawn in to become a part of things as well, enjoying the stories, both serious and funny, that the women told, and enjoying the gentle humor as during the course of the evening they joked with each other, as longtime friends do. Appreciating too not only the connection of voices but also the connection through fine playing. Tríona was on keyboards, Moya on harp and on djembe, Mairéad on fiddles, and in the background, Jim Higgins on percussion and Manus Lunny on guitar.

Calling themselves T with the Maggies, Mairéad, Tríona, Maighread, and Moya have made an album, also called T With the Maggies. Music they recorded for that, much of it music from the tradition sung in Irish, formed most of the program for the Glasgow evening. Ceol an Phíobaire, A Stór A Stór A Ghrá, and in English the lively song Wedding Dress were among the songs they offered.

Especially engaging were two songs the women wrote. Mother Song, inspired by the present situation which sees young people emigrating from Ireland again as they have in past days, showed passion in restraint in taking a mother’s view of those things. Domhnach na Fola, the most haunting song of the evening, is a response to the recent release of the findings of the Bloody Sunday enquiry in Derry.

Audience members were on their feet at the end of the concert, calling the artists back for three songs in encore. It was a lovely and lively evening, honoring tradition and carrying it forward, honoring friendship and carrying that forward as well. Chances are, once you’ve heard the album, you’ll want to be putting it on for encore spins, too.

This concert was part of Celtic Connections 2011. Photographs were made with permission of the artists, and are copyrighted. Thank you for respecting this.

you may also wish to see

Music Road: music and hope: Derry
Music Road: Altan: 25th Anniversary Collection
Music Road: Scott-Land at Celtic Connections
Music Road: Cathie Ryan: Songwriter

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Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Your writing evokes Donegal beautifully and I'm sure does the same for the music. I'll have to give it a listen.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I absolutely would have LOVED to go to Donegal when I was in Ireland, but alas, it wasn't meant to be (couldn't strong arm my husband into changing our travel route, in other words).

Ah well. I'll keep this post bookmarked for next time.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I'm sorry to hear young people are again immigrating, but it makes sense. Yes, how hard for the mothers! I look forward to hearing Mother's Song. Thanks for the heads-up about this album.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Beautiful. I love your photos and the writing quietly inspires me as well!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous NoPotCooking said...

I didn't realize people were emigrating again. And I love the description of the evening on stage - it sounds so warm and friendly.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I love your description. I've always wanted to visit Ireland--my mother's family came from Ireland. But for now, I'll just have to be content getting a listen.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

I feel like I was right there with you at the show - love those moments where you can really feel the camaraderie emanating from the stage.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous sarah henry said...

Have friends who hail from that part of the world and music looms large in their lives too. Whenever I read your posts I want to hop on a plane for the Emerald Isle.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Alisabow said...

Beautiful story.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Sheryl said...

Your words make the music come alive. I must, must visit Ireland. I do like Irish music, and I'm sure listening to it in its birthplace would make the experience that much richer.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi said...

There is always a connection between musicians the rest of us yearn for a bit. Beautifully expressed.

1:04 PM  

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