Farewell to Lissycasey: The Traditional Music of County Clare
Surprisingly, this compilation of music and song from County Clare was overlooked in the recent IRTRAD-L Favourite Albums survey, receiving not a single vote. However, this is an excellent anthology well worth tracking down, especially as it includes material not currently available in any format.
The album draws together material from the Topic label, much of whose Irish traditional material Ossian was licensing at the time of this album’s release, alongside independently released recordings by Kevin Griffin, Mary Custy and Eoin O’Neill, and Terry Bingham, plus recordings made by Smithsonian/Folkways, GTD, Mercier Press and Ossian itself (sadly, the last includes tracks from Bobby Gardiner’s The Master’s Choice where he is ill-served by grossly inappropriate synthesizer accompaniment).
Overall, however, the quality of musicianship on offer here is outstanding, but that should hardly be surprising when the cast list includes Willie Clancy (on no fewer than six tracks), Micho and Gussie Russell, Vincent Griffin, John Kelly (the elder), Bernard O’Sullivan and Tommy McMahon, and Tom Lenihan. A fair balance has also been struck in the choice of instruments on offer, although perhaps the fiddle is under-represented in terms of the contemporary session scene in the county.
The title track itself, Farewell to Lissycasey, is one of the four songs on this compilation and also one of the best tracks overall, a song sung perfectly by Siney Crotty. This track (along with Nora Cleary’s The Bold Trooper) comes from the Topic collection The Lambs on the Green Hills which really ought to be reissued in CD format.
Liner notes are provided by the journalist Pat ‘Herring’ Ahern (of The Four Star Trio) and include a brief account of County Clare’s music as well as short biographies of all the singers and musicians appearing on this collection.
This is an original review by Geoff Wallis.