We were going to review several albums this month in one of
those, "clean up the attic and catch up" moments. That plan
is out the window. There is only one album to discuss this
month. Beal Tuinne,
out on Tara Records. It is the most beautiful Irish album we
have heard in our 25 years of writing about Irish music. The
most beautiful. It is to the deepest core of what it is to
be Irish. Perhaps we should explain?
About a month or slightly more ago, we were sitting in front
of the computer in our normal half-conscious, somnambulant
state. The phone rang. Alan O'Leary from London and the fab
Copperplate Distribution calling. "Have you heard Beal
Tuinne yet?" Whaaa?? "Beal Tuinne. It is the most amazing
album I've heard in my years in the business. Have you heard
it?" We had not. But----suddenly---excitement was in the
air. Says Alan, "I'll mp3 you one of the songs immediately."
True to his word, he sent me the cut of Ciúmhais Charraig
Aonair. To say we were bolted to our office chair through
all 20 immediately repeated playings would be an
understatement. Stunned. Immobile. Shattered.
Shaun Davey is Ireland's greatest composer. How many years
ago did we first hear the iconic Brendan Voyage? The
of Derry Symphony? A symphonic composer employing Irish
instruments, themes and melodies of such exquisite taste and
genius, we have been among his biggest fans for years.
Decades, really. And, his wife! Rita Connolly first
transfixed us with her voice in Granuaile . A voice from
heaven. Shaun Davey has been emulated, copied and idolized
for years. Bill Whelan of Riverdance fame and fortune, as
well as others knows well what they owe to the likes of Sean
O'Riada and Shaun Davey. Yes. We include Shaun Davey in the
same sentence as Sean O'Riada. The number of films,
television shows, documentaries and other projects for which
he has written the music can only begin to be grasped by a
visit to his website. Perhaps best of all, he also wrote the
anthem for the worldwide Special Olympics hosted by Ireland
a few years ago.
On with the story. He and wife Rita bought a summer home on
the Dingle Peninsula a few years ago. Shaun and Rita, like
everyone of us who has ever been there, had fallen in love
with the The Dingle. They bought a summer home. Upon moving
in for the summer, the inspiration took hold, and Shaun
started writing music. But, to really, truly and deeply
reveal the spirit of the place, ordinary lyrics would not do
the trick---and so the search began.
The regular reader knows well the name of Eilis Kennedy. She
is one of the great singers of Ireland and her two solo
albums have both won her Awards here, as well as through
other venues in Ireland. One of the immortals!! Eilis, of
course, lives on The Dingle, as the regular reader also
knows. She and her husband, John, own and operate one of the
great pubs in the west, John Benny Moriarity's. It also
turns out that Eilis' father was Caoimhín Ó Cinneide
(Kennedy). Her family was of
the Blasket Islands. He was, in a way of thinking about it,
perhaps, the poet laureate of The Dingle. Is that too grand?
Eilis blushes at it, but it is not far off the mark.
After he passed away, his poems were collected in a small
volume that had been out of print for some time by the date
that Shaun and Rita arrived on the Peninsula. Fortunately
for Irish music, someone brought the volume to Shaun, and it
began. Caoimhín's wife and Eilis' mother, Eithne, encouraged
and helped in the entire production. We can only imagine
Shaun's thrill at the involvement of Eilis herself, as the
voice of her father surely speaks through her (he was also a
noted singer, as well as poet). Add to that another iconic
Irish musician and singer from the Dingle, Seamus Begley and
the forge was cast for something amazing.
Rehearsals. Meetings. Notes. More rehearsal—reworkings,
changes—and then, more rehearsal. And, then, it all came
together on a magic evening in September of 2007 at the
small St. James Church in the town of Dingle itself. The RTE
was, by this time, involved, and the concert and lead up
time are all part of a documentary. There are surely more
concerts scheduled for the future for this wonderful octet
of musicians and singers. This must become a major part of
the biggies like Irish Fest in Milwaukee and others. Check
out the LiveIreland Store here, and do not lollygag. Just
If we could own only one Irish album, this would be it.
Don't screw this up. Get it. It will touch your ears with a
gentleness equaled only by its caress of your heart and
memory. It is a masterpiece—and all the poems (lyrics) can
be found in the English translations online at the Beal
Tuinne website—just Google it.
It has never, and will never, be done better than this.
Rating : Perfection
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