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Celtic Lovers - Máire Breatnach
by Bridget Haggerty
Máire Breatnach's third solo album takes us on a journey through Irish mythology, with great romances as its central theme. While the music would be a pleasure to listen to without any knowledge of Irish myths and sagas, the details that Máire provides about the various couples in the accompanying booklet adds considerably to one's appreciation of the work.
From the opening enchantments of Mannan's polkas, to the blandishments of Grainne's slip jigs, to the tender evocations of lost love on Fand's air, the melodies and rhythms hold the listener spellbound.
Featuring twelve separate but integrated pieces, what strikes one most forcibly is the seamless nature of the whole affair. Very short gaps between the tracks allow the work to flow beautifully: key and tempo changes relate innately to the story being told in the music, which should, if possible, be listened to while reading the booklet.
The strength of this album lies not only in the power of the individual compositions, a power which is immediatley evident, but in the arranging skills applied by Máire and her cohort of musicians. Her own performances on violin, viola and keyboards are augmented by the likes of Mairtin O' Connor, Niall O' Callanain, Cormac Breatnach and several others, all of whom add immeasurably to the album's overall effect.
In summation, Celtic Lovers is perhaps the clearest indication yet that Máire can stand up and be counted alongside Bill Whelan, Shaun Davey and Micheal O' Suilleabhain as a real innovator.
According to Bill Whelan, the composer of "Riverdance", the production in which she first attracted attention, Breatnach has "an ability to compose original music while drawing deeply from the well of her beloved tradition."
A musician of exceptional calibre in a number of music related disciplines, traditional music and musicology have featured largely in her life and have been a source of great inspiration in her work. Having obtained B.A., B.Mus. and M.A. degrees at U.C.D., she lectured there and in the College of Music, D.I.T. before embarking on a freelance career.
On fiddle, viola, whistles, piano and keyboards, guitar and vocals, Máire has performed and recorded with Riverdance, Christy Moore, Alan Stivell, Ronan Keating, Máire Brennan, Phil Chevron, Sinead O' Connor, Altan, Sharon Shannon, Mary Black, Mike Oldfield, Donovan, Dave Gilmour, Sarah Brightman, Gavin Friday, Nigel Kennedy, Donal Lunny, Dolores Keane, Ronnie Drew, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Ronan Hardiman and Bill Whelan.
As a record producer, she has worked with Sonny Condell, Johnny McEvoy, Jim McCann, The Black Family, Keith Donald, Pádraigín Ní Úallacháin, Méav and Lasairfhióna Ní Chonaola.
TV and film credits include Glenroe, Tinteán, and Voyage (RTE), A Freezing Summer (Japan), Angela Mooney Dies Again, In The Name of the Father, The Secret of Roan Inish, Rob Roy and Moondance.
Recently, Máire has featured on the two chart-topping albums, Tears of Stone (The Chieftains), which subesquently won a Grammy award, and Éist, for which she wrote the title song, a duet with Brian Kennedy.
She is currently working on her fifth solo album and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Limerick.
Celtic Lovers and other recordings are available from amazon Celtic Lovers.
Review edited and adapted from reviews by Nuala O' Connor (Irish Times) and Oliver P. Sweeney (Hot Press)
Images & Biographical information edited and adapted from Maire's web site.
Wed, Jan 3, 2018
Ilnacullen, Co. Cork - an Island Garden
Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay. Ilnacullin, which means island of holly, is a small island known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty.
The vivid colours of Rhododendrons and Azaleas reach their peak during May and June, whilst the hundreds of cultivars of climbing plants, herbaceous perennials and choice shrubs dominate the midsummer period from June to August.
Because of its sheltered situation and the warming oceanic influence of the Gulf Stream, the climate is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants from many parts of the world.
Even for those who aren’t particularly interested in gardens, there are many other scenic views, especially in the surrounding waters where seals frequent the rocks on the southern shore.
The cover photo on Bridget's book The Traditional Irish Wedding shows a wrought iron garden gate on Ilnaculen. I took that photo. To see it, go to the home page. It's part of the opening paragraph Failte.
Resource: Copy and Image - Cork Guide
Click for More Culture Corner.
This is one of Bridget's favorite recordings; we purchased our copy at Blarney Woolen Mills in Cork. Being masters of merchandising, Blarney has music playing all the time while you shop. When Bridget heard Jim's rendition of Grace, she asked one of the assistants who and what it was. She was immediately directed to the music area - name of record and inventory number in hand! It's a wonderfully romantic collection that never fails to stir up the emotions. It also brings back lovely memories of Ireland.
Click here for Jim McCann.