MÓRglór award goes to Malbay Studios

Martin and Anne O’Malley

This year’s annual MÓRglór Award 2022 has been awarded to Malbay Studios under the direction of Martin, Anne, and Seán O’Malley.

With the vista of the Atlantic as a backdrop, Malbay Studios is an integral part of the musical landscape of Clare. Under the careful and patient stewardship of Martin O’Malley, Malbay Studios has a reputation of distinction in recording, production and mastering since its establishment in 1997. Malbay Studios hosts music makers from many musical traditions, and from many places; most especially, it has contributed immeasurably to the community of traditional music in County Clare.

The O’Malley musical genes run deep in West Clare and the studio builds on those solid foundations. By way of Dublin roots and Boston travels, settling in Miltown Malbay was a homecoming for Martin and his wife Anne, his partner in the business. Joined by his son, Seán O’Malley, Malbay Studios is now a family enterprise.

With almost thirty years’ experience, Martin’s distinction as a sound engineer is matched by his standing as a songwriter and musician. That musicianship is key to his success as a sound engineer, bringing technical and musical mastery to recording and live event engineering.

Malbay Studios includes an enviable roll call of artists, including the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Tommy Peoples, Josephine Marsh, Cherish the Ladies, Dónal Lunny and the Atlantic Arc Orchestra, among many others. Martin’s vision for a first-class studio space where any fiddler, singer or piper would feel welcome and thrive, has been fully realised. Malbay Studios is a testament to Martin’s dedication to excellence, to place and to traditional music.

On Saturday October 22, musicians across the country will come together before an audience – both in-person and online – to acknowledge Malbay Studios’ major contribution to traditional Irish music with a concert in the glór arts centre in Ennis featuring the O’Malley’s family and friends, along with an impressive line-up of traditional musicians and singers – including the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Josephine Marsh,cEoin O’Neill and the Fiddle Case, P.J. Murrihy, Bríd O’Donoghue and the O’Brien Family, Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello, and Francis Cunningham and Eimear Coughlan with many more to be announced. Tickets – each costing €25/€22 (conc) plus €1 booking fee – for the in-person event are available from glór.

The concert will also be recorded and available to view as an online event throughout the month of November – with tickets costing €10 each –  to enable people far and wide to access it.

The annual MÓRglór award is named in memory of the late cultural visionary, Muiris Ó Rocháin, co-founder and director of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and President of Oireachtas na Gaeilge. The award has been developed by glór in partnership with Tim Collins since 2013. The award acknowledges the wealth of professional and semi-professional artists, alongside the talented individuals, groups and communities in County Clare. The recipient is nominated by an anonymous panel of traditional arts practitioners and experts, assembled by glór.

Josephine Marsh
Eoin O’Neill
P.J. Murrihy
Muiris Ó Rocháin

Féile Liam O’Flynn to honour the great piper in his Kildare homepleace

The enduring legacy of the master piper, Liam O’Flynn, will be celebrated at the inaugural Féile Liam O’Flynn in his native Kildare with events scheduled for Naas and Kill on the weekend of October 7-9.

Through an extensive programme of concerts and sessions, some of Ireland’s leading musicians will assemble to remember the magic of Liam O’Flynn. The féile opens in St David’s Church in Naas on Friday October 7 with a concert featuring, appropriately Kildare pipers, including Brian Hughes, Joe Byrne, Cormac Mac Aodhagáin and Emmet O’Toole, along with the Kildare Youth Folk Orchestra. Saturday will see a céili in the Osprey Hotel in Naas with the outstanding Kilfenora Céili Band as well as a concert in Naas’s Moat Theatre featuring a spectacular line-up of Matt Molloy (flute), Seán Keane (fiddle), Mary Corcoran (piano), Gay McKeon (pipes) and Niamh Parsons (voice).

The féile concludes on Sunday with a gala concert in Kill Church Hall featuring Liam Ó Maonlaí (voice and piano), Donal Lunny (bouzouki), Paddy Glackin (fiddle), Laoise Kelly (harp), Mark Redmond (pipes) and Heidi Talbot (voice). The concert will feature a specially commissioned piece for the uilleann pipes composed by Sandie Purcell from Kill in Liam’s memory. Throughout the weekend, there will be sessions in local venues as well as workshops on Saturday and Sunday in the Moat Theatre.

Driven by Senator Vincent Martin, the festival was officially launched by actor, Seán McGinley, who recalled Liam’s collaboration with Nobel laureate, Séamus Heaney. Seán Keane spoke of his life-long friendship with Liam which began when they met as young boys, while Liam’s widow, Jane, explained that when she first met Liam through a mutual love of horses, she was unaware of his celebrated career as a musician.

Dónal Lunny and Paddy Glackin
Matt Molloy
Niamh Parsons
Laoise Kelly

Iconic bluegrass albums to be re-issued on vinyl

Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard (Photo: John Cohen/Smithsonian Folkways)

In celebration of the iconic bluegrass duo, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, Smithsonian Folkways are to release three new re-issues of their classic albums to honour the music, legacy, and influence of the pioneering partnership. Their first two albums, Who’s That Knocking? and Won’t You Come and Sing For Me? – which have been unavailable on vinyl for over forty years – have been newly remastered and will be released on vinyl and for streaming on October 21. These albums have never before been available in their original track sequences on streaming or as downloads.

The third album due for release is a remastered Pioneering Women of Bluegrass: The Definitive Edition which collects all of Hazel and Alice’s Folkways material. The album will be available for streaming and as a CD. This edition will also include comprehensive track notes, an expanded essay by Gerrard, new liner notes by Laurie Lewis and Peter Siegel, new photos, and a previously unheard cover of the Louvin Brothers’ Childish Love.

These iconic recordings tell the story of two women whose inventiveness, conviction, and grit allowed them access to stages, audiences, and a legacy previously only afforded to men. After Hazel and Alice entered the picture, bluegrass would never be the same. “I think this is one of the all-time historic records,” Dickens wrote of Who’s That Knocking? “To my knowledge, it was the first time that two women sat down and picked out a bunch of songs and had guts enough to stand behind what they picked out and say: ‘We’re not changing anything; you have to do it or else.’”
The music that Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard recorded together beginning in 1965 has influenced generations of musicians across  a number of genres, primarily women, including Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Rhiannon Giddens.
Inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2017, Dickens and Gerrard broke down the barriers of the good ol’ boy network in the bluegrass community they helped redefine.
We have had women come up to us all through the years and talk about the first records we made and what an impact it had on their lives,” Dickens wrote in 1996. “I just think it was an eye-opener for a lot of people to hear two women singing together, doing what the men did in bluegrass.”
While older traditional-style songs featured strongly in their repertoire throughout their careers, their music developed a political dimension over time as they began to write about social and industrial issues.
As Hazel Dickens once explained, “I didn’t have to work in a factory to see how badly women were treated. Playing in bluegrass, a male-dominated form of music, was enough.” Among her stand-out compositions were Don’t Put Her Down You Helped Put Her There and Black Lung, written after her brother’s death from pneumoconiosis — the lung disease prevalent among coal miners. The song subsequently featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, Harlan County USA, about a Kentucky coal strike.

For her part, Alice Gerrard wrote the powerful Beaufort County Jail about Jo Ann
Little, a Black woman charged with murder for defending herself during an attempted sexual assault by a white man. In the late 1960s, the duo took part in the Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project – a racially integrated initiative to reflect on working class struggles.
Dickens passed away in 2011 in Washington, DC, from complications of pneumonia. Gerrard lives in Durham, North Carolina, and still tours regularly – performing at the 2022 Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington.


Benefit concert to support restoration of Begley family home

Just days before the remarkable documentary, The Man with the Moving House – outlining musician, Breanndán Begley’s fight for the right to build a house on his own land in the Dingle peninsula – was broadcast on RTÉ 1 television, the Begley family’s ‘ancestral home’ – occupied by his sister, Eibhlín, was destroyed by fire.

While fortunately no-one came to any physical harm, the devastation to the property has been substantial. To support Eibhlín with current living expenses and future rebuilding costs, a fundraising concert is being organised at St. Mary’s Church, Dingle, on Friday September 30.

While the line-up of performers will be confirmed shortly, tickets for the concert are now available through eventbrite.ie at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/fund-raising-concert-for-eibhlin-ni-bheaglaoich-tickets-413682624867?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

For people who cannot attend the concert but wish to support the fund-raising campaign, the family have set up a special email address – begleyconcert@gmail.com – where they will receive suggestions on how to help.

Eibhlín’s nephew, the concertina virtuoso, Cormac Begley, said that the family are “very grateful for all the messages of support to each of us over the past few weeks.”

The Man with the Moving House outlines Breanndán Begley’s fifteen-year campaign for the right to build a small traditional home in his ancestral village within the much broader context of the preservation of culture, music, heritage and language.

Begley argues that the unique character of local communities is being lost when local people can no longer afford to buy houses that are being snapped up for holiday homes, or to secure planning permission in their native place.

As the documentary develops, Begley looks beyond Dingle to engage with communities in Conamara, An Rinn and Donegal as well as Brittany and the Scottish highlands. After connecting through music, he discovers that the people of the Kerry Gaeltacht are not alone in having to face the adverse consequences of planning decisions on culture, language and place.

Breanndán Begley with this 'moving' house – constructed on a trailer – after Kerry County Council refused him permission to build a permanent dwelling. Eventually, after a fifteen-year campaign, his appeal to An Bord Pleanála was successful. (Photo: RTÉ)

Family Matters

Some members of the Vallely family

Following the continued success of TG4’s Ceol ón Chlann series, the fourth series will explore six more famous Irish musical families who have brought their music to audiences around the world. Produced by Táin Media, Ceol ón Chlann provides an insight into the musical journey that each family has taken and the influence of earlier generations on their musical heritage.

The six families featured in the latest series are:

  • The Smyth Family (including Seán, Breda and Cora),
  • The Dillons (including Cara and Mary),
  • Muintir Uí Cheannabháin (including Pól and Caitríona),
  • The Glackins (including Paddy, Kevin and Doireann),
  • The Vallelys (including Brian, Eithne, Niall, CIllian and Caoimhín) and
  • The Haydens (including Cathal and Stephen).

Each story is presented through rare archive material from BBC, ITV, TG4 and RTÉ, as well as previously unseen private family footage. Along with musical performances, each programme includes exclusive interviews with family members, contemporary musicians and well-known broadcasters offering unique perspectives on the families.

The series is narrated by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and also features many of Ireland’s leading musicians and broadcasters including Matt Molloy, Máirtín O’Connor, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Lynette Fay, John Francis Flynn, Gino Lupari, Alan Kelly, Áine Hensey, Neil Martin, Brian Mullen, Daniel O’Donnell and many more.
The series Executive Producer and Director, Feilimí O’Connor, who, himself, comes from a well-known musical family said: “The documentary series offers a fresh insight into the heritage of these unique Irish families, their legacy and their continuing significance in modern Ireland’s musical tapestry.”
The first episode on Sunday, September 11 at 10.30pm features the Smyths – Seán, Cora and Breda from Straide, Co. Mayo. With a combined total of over 50 All-Ireland titles, the siblings also achieved medical degrees from UCG.
As well as founding the band, Lúnasa, founder Seán Smyth was responsible for his acclaimed debut solo album, The Blue Fiddle, in 1993. His sister, Breda, who was recently named as Ireland’s interim Chief Medical Officer, also released an acclaimed debut album, Basil and Thyme. She has also presented programmes for TG4 and RTÉ. Meanwhile, the third of the siblings, Cora is also a professional fiddle player whose credits include touring with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance show as well as featuring on Eimear Quinn’s Eurovision-winning song, The Voice.
Cora Smyth
Cara Dillon
Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin

New artist campus and workspace planned for Dublin

Dublin Port Company CEO, Eamonn O’Reilly, pictured with Arts Council Director, Maureen Kennelly (Photo: Maxwell Photography)

A new workspace for artists practicing in all areas of the arts in Dublin is the objective of a new partnership between the Arts Council and Dublin Port Company. The artists’ campus aims to provide artists’ studios, experimental performing and visual arts spaces, sound-proofed rehearsal rooms, workshops, co-working spaces, conference and meeting spaces across 5,000 square metres in the old Odlum’s Flour Mills premises at Dublin Port.

The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company have been working together since early this year to explore options for the Flour Mills site. Award-winning architects, Grafton Architects, have been engaged to undertake a Feasibility Study for the agreed site. Officials from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media have also visited the site recognising its potential to be a transformational development for artists.

Artists across Ireland struggle to find suitable workspace but research finds this problem to be most pronounced in Dublin. Research on the provision of artists’ workspaces and infrastructure undertaken by Dublin City Council in 2020 showed that workshop space is scarce for the 2,500 professional artists working in the city. Artists have worked collaboratively and creatively to address this challenge through ‘artist’ collectives’ but frequently find their efforts hampered by short-term and insecure tenancy agreements.

The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company look forward to sharing more details as this exciting project progresses and welcome the official start of a fruitful partnership. The Flour Mill Artists’ Campus has the potential to establish a significant secure and sustainable workspace dedicated to artists within Dublin city. . The Arts Council continues to engage closely with Department on the realisation of this remarkable opportunity.

Arts Council Chair, Professor Kevin Rafter, noted: “There are huge opportunities in Dublin and other areas around the country to develop new workspaces for artists to address a growing problem. This is the start of significant relationship to provide workspaces for artists in the old Flour Mill site in the port and will hopefully provide a model for other organisations to follow.”


Drawing from the Well on tour

The Drawing From the Well programme – developed by the Irish Traditional Music Archive – connects Ireland’s leading contemporary traditional performers with the great traditional collections housed in the archive in order to inspire new work. So the ITMA has assembled many of those artists for a series of concerts of traditional music, song and dance. (For more information on the Drawing from the Well Project, see https://www.itma.ie/drawingfromthewell).

The first event takes place in the National Concert Hall in Dublin on September 11 – featuring an extensive line-up of 14 of the country’s top musicians, singers and dancers who have been inspired by the ITMA collections under the Drawing from the Well Programme. They are Laoise Kelly (harp), Cormac Begley (concertina), Conor Connolly (accordion), Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddle), Jesse Smith (fiddle), Deirdre Hurley (flute), Mairéad Hurley (concertina), Aoife Granville (flute) and Steve Cooney (guitar) will perform along with renowned singers Daoirí Farrell, Radie Peat and Brían Mac Gloinn, and distinguished dancers Edwina Guckian and Caitlín Nic Gabhann who also is one of Ireland’s leading young concertina players. The NCH programme will also be interspersed with the spoken word by poets Vincent Woods and Moya Cannon who will present the performances.

Following the NCH performance, four artists – Laoise Kelly, Cormac Begley, Brian Mac Gloinn and Edwina Guckian will undertake a five-concert tour of:
  • September 12: Séamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy, Co. Derry
  • September 13: Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
  • September 14: Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaine Inis Oirr, Inisheer, Co. Galway
  • September 15: St. John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
  • September 16: Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Birr, Co. Offaly

Information on booking tickets is available from https://www.itma.ie/events.