The boys are back in town. Yes, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady are heading to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on October 25th to celebrate their eponymous classic of Irish folk songs and music again.
Just as almost every household in the free world had The Eagles Greatest Hits, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and Tubular Bells in their LP collection in the 1970s, folk fans had Brady’s ginger mop and the toussle-haired and The Bearded One Irvine looks at her from the famous blue ceiling.
Indeed, the couple had created new clothes for the Irish repertoire, transforming classics like The Streets of Derry, Mary and the Soldier and of course Arthur McBride into something that suited the nation’s mood at the time.
In May 2017, given the album’s still immense popularity, the duo decided to go on an Irish tour of live shows on the 40th anniversary of its release. It was so successful that it was repeated in 2018, resulting in sold-out events in Ireland, London and Prague. Further performances were planned for 2020.
A certain pandemic bothered us, however, but 44 years after its release, viewers are still amazed by the fabulous songs, beautifully adapted and passionately performed. So much so that, in response to popular requests, Aiken Promotions has just announced that the duo’s planned performances at Waterfront Hall in Belfast and Vicar Street in Dublin for March 2021 will now be postponed until October. They even added an extra date at the Cork Opera House.
The show features songs and tunes from the album and many other musical masterpieces that Andy and Paul performed during their two illustrious careers. As on previous tours, they are accompanied by Dónal Lunny and Kevin Burke, both of whom were on the original recording of the album, with Dónal also producing the record.
Tickets to the Waterfront performance cost £ 38 and are available now at waterfront.co.uk. You can also call the box office on (028) 90 334455.
The revised dates are Cork Opera House – Sunday October 17, 2021; Vicar Street, October 21 and 22, and Waterfront Hall, Tuesday, October 25, 2021.
Original tickets remain valid for the new shows.
:: Congratulations to the harpist Fionnuala Donlon and the piper Colm Broderick, who won the Seán Ó Riada gold medal in the final of the competition, which was broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta last weekend.
Each year the competition focuses on different instruments and this year the focus was on uilleann pipes and harp. The competition judges were Mick O’Brien, Laoise Kelly and Michelle Mulcahy. The winners received the gold medal and € 2,500 each. Peadar Ó Riada presented the final live by Baile Bhúirne in the Cuireadh Chun Ceoil program by Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Unfortunately there was no audience this year for health reasons, but the championship was broadcast live online.
Fionnuala, 22, comes from Dundalk, Co Louth, and started playing the harp when she was nine. She is currently a substitute teacher at St. Brigid’s School in Dundalk, teaching children with special needs.
She also teaches music in various locations including Maynooth University. Colm Broderick (22) comes from Graiguecullen in Carlow. He is a student teacher and is currently in his third year at Mary Immaculate College.
Colm is also a music teacher and hopes to be able to teach at the Willie Clancy Virtual Summer School in a few months.
Na Píobairí Uilleann recently presented Colm with a pipe set made in 1936 by the great Leo Rowsome for the piper Sean Reid. They also once belonged to Willie Clancy and Liam O’Flynn, which is why Colm is especially proud to have won the gold medal for Set Pipes.
The medal was designed by the late goldsmith Pádraig Ó Mathúna from Cashel in Co Tipperary.
There is a portrait of Seán Ó Riada on one side of the base and on the other side an engraved image based on Dán Aimhirgín / The Song of Aimhirgín, allegedly voiced by the Milesian poet Aimhirgín Glúngel, who allegedly recited First Foot in Ireland.
The medal is made of silver, and after the competition, the winner’s name is engraved and dipped in gold.
:: There is finally hope in the air that the country’s musical life will soon flourish again – with all the usual caveats, a global pandemic on top of the great unknowns of making music – insecure funding, lack of venues, moody audiences who Stresses of touring.
Some of the signs are really positive and some are not. In conversation with Conor Byrne – a nephew of Christy Moore and Luka Bloom – he tells me that the Doolin Folkfest in Co Clare is taking place again this September and, holy guacamole, is already sold out!
Conor is also organizing Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair in Gweedore from December 27, 2021 to January 1, 2022, while the RTÉ 1 Folk Awards are held in October.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann – the largest of Ireland’s annual traditional music festivals – was scheduled to take place in Mullingar in 2020 and 2021 but is coming to the town of Westmeath in August 2022.
:: I can’t let go of this column without paying tribute to Irish-speaking activist Albert Fry, who died last week at the age of 80. Albert has already been recognized as an Irish teacher, but his contribution as a song collector is not duly recognized.
He spent much of his youth in the 1950s and 1960s visiting Rann na Feirste in the Donegal Gaeltacht in the company of Máirtín Mac Grianna – a scion of the great literary dynasty of Culture.
Albert collected the songs he heard and brought them back to Belfast, where he shared them with the audience at Cumann Chluain Ard, the Irish language and cultural center on Hawthorn Street to the west of the city.
In this way, songs by 18th century Irish poets and modern “folk songs” made their way from the cottages of Donegal to the back streets of Belfast, where they were eagerly received by a new generation of Irish speakers and singers.
Albert made three albums – Maidin Luan Cincíse (1969), Thiar i dTr Chonaill (1976) and Albert Fry (1983) – and among those who appeared on his albums were Dónal Lunny, Máiréad Ní Mhaonaigh and the late Frankie Kennedy.
He was able to silence the loudest crowd in the loudest bars with an at times ethereal voice that gave passion and meaning to Gaelic lyrics, which had their own beauty.
At the right hand of God was his faithful soul.