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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.


Sun, Oct 1, 2017

Ireland's Most Haunted Castle

South-east of Birr between Kinnity and Roscrea, in Co. Offaly are the remains of Leap Castle. Originally an O'Carroll fortress, it guarded the pass from the Slieve Bloom into Munster. Said to have more than 50 ghosts, its dark and mysterious past includes the murder of a priest by his brother in the "Bloody Chapel" and the slaughter by their Irish employers of more than 50 Scots mercenaries in order to avoid payment. It has always had a reputation of being haunted and locals have described seeing the windows at the top of the castle "light up for a few seconds as if many candles were brought into the room" late at night. For more details read our article Creepy Irish Castles & Houses.
Photo Credit & More Details: H. J. Moncrieff

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.


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