As soon as I started to play Hurry The Jug I was struck by an indefinable warmth in the music that immediately made me feel at home. The trio are based in Sligo where Declan Folan and Shane McGowan grew up – Leonard Barry is from Kerry, which is the other end of the country but not to worry – and their repertoire reflects not just the traditions of South Sligo but their familiarity with those traditions.
The second striking thing, right from the opening track ‘Hurry The Jug/The Pullet Wants The Cock’, was the richness and smoothness of Leonard’s piping. The Uilleann pipes, in expert hands, can do things that neither the Scottish pipes nor the Northumbrian small pipes can do and here we have something of a masterclass. Most of the tunes are traditional but hidden away are the names of Joe Liddy and Tommy Peoples. Leonard and Declan swap lead roles and sometimes take a solo or near-solo. I would have liked to hear Shane have a bigger share of the spotlight but the guitar isn’t a major player in Irish traditional music. I thought that it might happen with ‘The Garavogue/Graf Spey/The Hare’s Paw’ but the fiddle rushes in before he really got under way. The same happens with Declan’s lovely composition, ‘The Carousel’, but this time it’s Leonard’s whistle that jumps in.
The only piece that I’m sort of familiar with is ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ played here as a set dance but there are some really jolly tunes here, notably a couple of barndances, ‘Kitty Shand’s/Bill O’Malley’s’, and the jigs, ‘Father Quinn’s Favourite/The Humours Of Rahey/The Shoemaker’s Fancy’, but the whole set is a splendid affair.
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An un-named set – live: