agallamh, f., a discourse, a dialogue,
1. Three Piece Suite
A slip-jig, The Chestnut Tree, and two reels, Ril an tSuaimhnis
(pronounced Reel un Toonish and translated as The Reel of Peace)
and The Copper Hills of Beara composed by Máire.
Although 'Ril an tSuaimhnis' literally means 'The Reel of Peace',it
was actually written in honour of Máire's mother's family,
the 'Suaimhnis' or 'peaceful' branch of the O'Sullivan clan of
Beara,Co. Cork. The third tune refers to the parish of Allihies
on the Beara Peninsula, where there have been copper mines at various
periods since the Bronze Age.
2. The Beeswing Hornpipe
A great tune composed by James Hill, the famous Scottish fiddle-player
and composer who died in the early 1860s, having spent most of
his life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The titles of his tunes reflect
the life he lived, many of them being named after racehorses
and public houses. Beeswing was a racehorse who lived from 1833-1854.
Maybe Hill composed this tune in his honour to commemorate a
3. Deirin De(pronounced Derreen
Day)/Midnight in Annemasse
There are many versions of the lullaby Deirin De: this one has
always greatly appealed to us. A 'Deirin De' was, according to
the lexicographer O Duinnin, a nearly-extinguished taper used in
a Munster children's game, but the words are used in the song for
their sound and not for their meaning: they have a pleasing mantra-like
Chris learnt the second tune many years ago from a group of traditional
singers and dancers in Haute Savoie, high in the French Alps. Deirin
De and Midnight in Annemasse share a certain melancholy quality,
so we thought we'd put them together.
4.Paddy Whack/ Colonel Robertson/The
Maid at the Spinning Wheel
The first and third of these jigs are Irish; the second is Scottish.The
tune now generally known as The Maid at the Spinning Wheel is one
of the finest of all traditional Irish jigs. Several different
versions, of varying degrees of complexity, have been published
over the last 250 years and its popularity shows no sign of waning-the
test of a really great tune.
5.Gol na mBan san Ar
(pronounced Gull nuh Mon sun Awr, and translated as The Lament
of the Women Amidst the Slaughter)
This solo harp piece has a spare, stark beauty;its balance of passion
and restraint is the essential characteristic of that style of
composition and performance unique to the ancient court harpers
of Ireland. It's thought to be one part of a long suite of pieces
composed to commemorate the disastrous defeat of the Irish armies
at the Battle of Aughrim on 12 July,1691.
Máire first learnt the tune as a child, from the fiddle-playing
of the late Pilib O Laoire, who lived in Cork City. A slightly
different version was collected by Liam de Noraidh in 1942 from
the fiddle-playing of Treasa Bean Ui Bhreallachain, Achadh Tiobrad,
Co. kerry. Though preserved in the oral tradition into modern times
by fiddle-players, it is stylistically such a perfect example of
the older harp-music of Ireland that one can confidently conclude
that it was composed by a harper.
6. Banana Yellow
A tune that should be played when it's pouring with rain and freezing
7. I Love my Love
Three verses of this beautiful and pathetic love-song were collected
by Edith Wheeler from an inmate of the Belfast Workhouse in 1902
and published by her (without an air)in a 1905 edition of the
Journal of the Irish Folksong Society.
Máire has inserted a fourth verse containing related thematic
material. The air is loosely based on a Co. Wexford tune published
by George Petrie (1789-1866) in his 'Ancient Music of Ireland'.
8. Donald MacLean's Farewell to
Donald MacLean's farewell to Oban is a pipe-march composed by Archibald
McNeill, the blind piper from the island of Gigha, off the west
coast of Scotland.
Duntroon Castle is a piping reel. we're joined on this track by
Ian MacFarlane from Glenfinnan, one of the finest young exponents
of the West Highland fiddle style which dates back to before the
1715 Jacobite Rising. The repression of Gaelic culture that followed
the failure of the last Jacobite Rising in 1745 brought a ban on
the bagpipes, with the result that many pipers transferred their
subtly varied and highly-ornamented style on to the fiddle.
9.An Clar Bog-Deil
(pronounced Un Clawer Bog Dale and translated as The Bog-Deal Board)
An affecting traditional Irish love- song, very popular in West
Cork when Máire's father Sean was a young man. The title
is sometimes mistranslated as 'The Soft Deal Board'."Bog-
deal" was the term traditionally used to describe the ancient
fossilised timber found in Irish bogs.
Sean remembers its being used principally as firewood, but also
occasionally for roofing houses and making torches for poaching
As an extremely cheap-in fact, free-source of wood, it was often
used by the 19th century poor for making coffins and simple kitchen
furniture. "The Bog-Deal Board" is therefore a powerful
image of the poverty which the poet would be willing to endure
in order to live with his beloved. This beautiful version of the
air was collected in the early 19th century by George Petrie from
a Father Walsh, parish priest of Sneem,Co. Kerry and published
by him in his 'Ancient Music of Ireland'.
10. Twinkle Little Star
In 1999 Chris participated in a short tour with bluegrass fiddle
maestro Richard Greene. This was one of the tunes Richard played,
and it was so pretty it was crying out to be pinched!
11.The Hidden Pearl
Máire found this wonderfully expressive untitled gem in
George Petrie's 'Complete Collection of Irish Music'. hidden in
the middle is a short musical reference to the famous song The
Snowy Breasted pearl, thus its new title.
12.Cnocainin AerachChill Mhuire
(pronounced Kinuckawneen Airuck Keel virrer and translated as The
Airy Heights of Kilmurry)
The parish of Kilmurry is situated about ten miles from Bandon,
Co. Cork, the town where Máire grew up. The poet depicts
his native place as a rural paradise-a veritable Arcadia!
13. Swinging the Lead
Chris wrote this tune in 1984 in a hotel room in Quebec. It started
out as an exercise to see how far round you can go in fourths
before you fall over. Thanks to Simon for a seriously wacky solo!
"Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic,
original,inspired,gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant,
stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly
beautiful, influential, revered, unique..." Folk
Roots,The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Irish times,
These are just some of the comments made
in the press about Máire Ni Chathasaigh and Chris Newman.
Máire,described by Derek Bell as the most interesting, original
player of our Irish harp today, has invented some profoundly influential
dance-music techniques which have amounted to a single-handed re-invention
of the harp. Chris is one of the UK's most extraordinary acoustic
guitarists and has been described by Folk Roots as"staggering
Together they've played in 21 countries,
from Shetland to New Zealand,from California to Calabria. Rooted
in the Irish tradition, their performances are a breathtaking blend
of irish and Scottish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque.