The Light Side of the Tune – Brenda Castles

Concertina virtuoso, Brenda Castles, revisits some of the classics of the traditional canon and finds new ways of interpreting them.

Add to wishlist

    Brenda Castles is from a rich tradition of music in Co. Meath having learned concertina from Rena Traynor (née Crotty) and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh. She has won a number of All Ireland titles in both solo and ensemble categories.

    The Light Side of the Tune is a collection of unusual versions of some of the well-known tunes in the tradition. 

    “I’ve spent time over the last three years collecting interesting settings of some of the common tunes in the tradition. I realised that there were many tunes that I didn’t enjoy learning as a child and disliked playing as a teenager which I found I’d grown to love as an adult. Somehow you find the music in the tunes as you mature as a musician. 

    The common tunes can also get overplayed, and it can be easy to tire of them. I’ve found it interesting to revisit those tunes, to rediscover the music in them and the reason why they became so popular in the first place. 

    I heard Liz Carroll perform her gorgeous re-working of Miss McLeod’s Reel, leading me to think about how tunes evolve and wondering about what more was out there in the archives. It’s fascinating to go back and hear how a tune can change over time and distance, with varying melody, time and key signatures and depending on the musician playing it. 

    I started looking in the archives, talking to other musicians and keeping my ear peeled for unusual, interesting versions of some of the common tunes in our tradition. 

    This album is the result of that work.”

    Brenda Castles

    Track Listing:

    1. Miss McLeod’s/Miss Lyon’s/Miss Monaghan’s
    2. The Connaughtman’s Rambles/The Kesh/Tom Ginley’s Fancy
    3. Molly on the Shore/Charlie Mulvihill’s
    4. The Shaskeen/The Jolly Tinker
    5. An tSeanbhean Bhocht/The Scholar
    6. Páidín Ó’Raifeartaigh/The Kerry Huntsman
    7. Farewell to London/The Limerick Lasses
    8. Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie
    9. If the Wind Would Shed the Barley/The Wind That Shed the Barley/The Hard Road to Travel/Sleepy Maggie
    10. Strawberry Blossoms
    11. Merrily Kiss the Quaker/Merrily Dance the Quaker/Going for Water
    12. Trip to Killarney
    13. Last Night’s Fun/Rolling in the Ryegrass/The Killavil Bucks
    14. The Irish Washerwoman/Tatterjack Walsh/The Blackthorn Stick



    • Brenda Castles concertina
    • Kate McHugh piano
    • Ruairí McGorman bouzouki
    • Tony Byrne guitar

    Engineered by Al Cowan at Sonic Studios
    Mastered by Martin O’Malley at Malbay Studios

    Released November 2021

    The Digital Album (Streaming and Download) – including unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more – is available from Bandcamp for €15.