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Irish Language, Song and Dance

Shannon Heaton
Shannong Heaton by Irish Philadelphia Photo Essays

During last week’s survey on the non-members Bitesize Irish Gaelic Newsletter, it was clear that many of you love Irish song and dance!

So as a follow-up, I asked who do you love to listen to.

Brenda said:

Oh, there are SO many songs and performers I love and listen to every day.  Mary Black and The Black Family, Solas, Dervish, The Chieftains (of course), The Boys of the Lough, Three Weird Sisters, The Corrs, Niamh Parsons, Cathy Ryan (yeah, she’s from Boston, but she might as well be Irish), The Pogues, The Poozies (I know, they’re English, but much of what they play are Irish tunes), Seamus Eagan.

For Taliesin in Russia:

Speaking of Irish Gaelic songs and artists I would like to mention Anúna, Altan and Clannad, of course. I even managed to see Moya Brennan live (that’s luck considering that I live in Russia). About particular songs… well, I must confess my favourite are “Teidhir Abhaile Riú” (all versions including scottish), “Dúlamán” and “Caidé Sin Do’n Té Sin?“. And there’s also one… not song, I believe, just a melody. I found it in one of my whistle-books but never heard it being performed by anyone. It’s called “Eanach Dhúin“, a slow and lamentful tune, but a very strong one.

And Kendall likes:

Ok so I love Celtic thunders Damian Mcginty and I like the song  buachaill ón éirne.

What songs and artists should we listen to?

I’m sure there’s lots of videos on YouTube that feature Irish song and dance – especially songs in Irish Gaelic.

Post in the comments below with your favorite artists and links to your favorite performance videos.

11 thoughts on “Irish Language, Song and Dance”

  1. I have a passion for traditional Irish tunes (usually played with NO amplification), consisting of instruments such as the whistle, flute, uileann pipes, fiddle, accordion, concertina, mandolin and the harp, played by anyone who can play, but preferably the older players: Mrs Crotty, the Killoury brothers (from West Clare), the Russels, Garrett Barry, Johnny Doran, O’Keeffe, Dennis Murphy, Joe Heaney (song as Gaeilge) and other traditionalists from Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Tipp, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.

    Can these tunes be purchased from Apple on iTunes?

    Thanks in anticipation!


  2. I love (as you know) Enya, for her Oíche Chiun is the reason I’m here, Celtic Women (Mo Ghile Mear, Si do Mhaimeo, Dúlaman, Síul a Run, Isle of Innisfree sung by Orla, Hayley’s Scarborough Fair…), Thíos Cois na Trá Domh… and of course, the lovely, surprisingly traditional Irish dance!

    But I’m a begginer, so I don’t know much of Irish culture and music. I have at home three CDs of Irish music (Celtic Tranquility, The Irish Pub Songs, and The Best of Irish Folk Songs. I belive these are the titles.). I do know some of the myths and legends, though…

  3. Mary 'Mayday' Heil

    I’m a traditional singer, and the main reason I’m so eager to learn Irish is so that I don’t have to depend on Lady Gregory (though I am suitably grateful) to understand and sing Donal Og and other traditional songs. You can have a good translation, or lyrics that sound, well, lyrical in English and scan to the music but not both. I heartily endorse all recommendations so far and won’t repeat them.

    My first suggestion would be the Ni’ Dhomnaill/ O’ Domhnaill family: Triona, Maighread and Micheal (sadly, he died in a fall at his home 5 years ago). Individually as soloists and among them they’ve been the basis of many of the most famous modern traditional Irish bands, starting in the 60’s as teens with Skara Brae and continuing in no particular order in Bothy Band, Night Noise, Relativity, Munroe, Puck Faire, Touchstone, and most recently T with the Maggies (“T” being Triona). There’s plenty on Youtube of this group of siblings. All three crossed genres. If you’re American, you could compare them with our traditional/modern hybrid music superstars like Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, or more modestly Dr. John and Allison Krauss.

    Silly Wizard did both Irish and Scottish traditional music (members Phil and the late Johnny Cunningham were good friends with the D/Dhomhnaills). They’re brilliant in both senses, their English language performance of Bridget O’Malley is breathtaking.

    Luke Kelly/The Corries, De Dannan, Seamus Ennis, Robin Williamson (an amazing harper and singer who renders many traditional Irish stories in English as well) and Deanta are all legendary.

    Chicago musicians Liz Caroll, Kathy Cowan and the group Cooper/Nelson/Early are personal favorites of mine too.

  4. Marlene Taylor

    This I could go on and on ….

    One of my absolute favorites is Amhrán Pheadair Bhreathnaigh by Altan.

    Then comes many Clancey and Makem songs: Portlairge being my favorite, then Eamonn an Chnuic, I’ve got so many others at home and can’t rattle off the top o’ me head.

    And of course … Bearla leath agus Gaeilge leath … Mo Ghile Mear, favorite version with Sting.

    1. I love Mo Ghile Mear too. Sting’s version is great, although his pronunciation is a little off on a few words. Having the verses in English makes it easier to sing along. For a full in Irish version, I love the song as sung by Deirbhile ní Bhrolcháin on The Celtic Woman 2 CD.

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