Caise Ceoil: Classics from the CIC Irish Traditional Music Collection

Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 146; 75 minutes; 2001

Established in 1985 as a cottage industry in the Connemara gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area), Cló Iar-Chonnachta has developed into one of Ireland’s most prolific music publishing houses, issuing more than 200 books and almost 150 albums. Initially, CIC drew upon Connemara’s strong musical traditions and most of its early releases were recordings of sean-nós (literally, ‘old style’), unaccompanied singing in Irish, including classic albums by Seán ‘ac Dhonncha and Johnny Mháirtín Learaí. However, its output over the years has diversified to include other regional singing and musical styles.

Caise Ceoil (‘Cascading Music’) is a glorious reflection of this development, covering the years from 1995 to 2000. Lovers of sean-nós will be surprised to see only two examples of the art included, though both are sublime, especially the Donegal singer Gearóidín Breathnach’s heart-rending rendition of An Droighneán Donn (‘The Brown Cow’). Nevertheless, the breadth of the rest encompasses musicians as diverse as fiddlers from West Clare (Joe Ryan), Leitrim (Ben Lennon) and Kerry (Gerry Harrington), while differing flute styles are represented by the dynamic Marcas Ó Murchú (from Belfast) and the lyrical Catherine McEvoy, exemplifying the North Connaught style. The spirit of Connemara is present too, most notably in the masterful melodeon-playing of Johnny Connolly, one of Ireland’s best dance accompanists. All told, this is a mouth-watering taster of the treats on offer from CIC.

This review by Geoff Wallis was originally written for Songlines magazine

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