I have to say out the outset that this is rather lovely. Two years ago Niall Hanna received a Young Musician’s Platform Award from the Arts Council which gave him the opportunity to collect and record some traditional songs, mostly from Ulster. He threw in a couple of original compositions and Autumn Winds is the result. Of course, he had a singular advantage in that his grandfather, Geordie Hanna, was a notable singer and two of the songs come from his repertoire.
The album opens with an original song, ‘The Autumn Winds’, a typically lilting piece of Irish music which could be traditional and that says a lot for it. It’s about memory and loss. I must have noticed this before but Autumn Winds brought it home: how many Irish songs are named for a place, whatever the subject matter. Niall follows suit with his second original piece, ‘Sweet Lough Neagh’. After the title track comes ‘Lough Erne Shore’, originally collected by Paddy Tunney. Despite very few points of similarity it reminds of ‘Belle Isle’ as constructed by Bob Dylan who set the song on the banks of Loch Eiron. Given the number of Irish songs that travelled to the Americas I’m sure there’s a link.
‘The Granemore Hare’ is fairly well known but ‘The Mountains Of Pomeroy’ turns out to be a version of ‘Reynardine’. Niall says that the melody is commonly played as a barndance march but the lyrics were written by one George Sigerson. ‘The Stately Woods Of Truagh’ is the first song from Niall’s grandfather and tells of a soldier saying goodbye to his true love before riding off to fight in the Battle of Benburb. It has a happy ending as he survives and comes home to marry her. ‘The Rambling Irishman’ breaks the titling rule and is a song of emigration as is ‘Erin’s Lovely Home’, another song from Geordie Hanna. There is a set of reels and finally we have a real favourite of mine, ‘Banks Of The Bann’.
The album was produced and arranged by Niall and Dónal O’Connor who plays keyboards. Also in support are Ciaran Hanna on concertina and whistles, Rachel McGarrity on fiddle and percussionist Dermot Moynagh of Lonesome George. The arrangements can be delicate based on Niall’s multi-tracked guitars or as lively as ‘The Rambling Irishman’ demands.
Ioscaid is group of young lads from counties Down, Armagh, and Derry who came together in late 2009 as a band to enter the Siansa Gael Linn competition.
Brothers Dermot and Fintan Mulholland entered Siansa the previous year in a group with Niall McCrickard and Declan Magee called Coimriú who came third that year. The following year, the 4 lads joined with Niall Murphy & Ciaran Hanna and entered Siansa under the name of ‘Ioscaid’. After the various rounds of the competition, the group were selected as one of the 8 finalists to compete in the National Concert Hall in the Grand Final of the competition. In April 2010 they made history by winning the competition and bring the trophy to Ulster!
In October 2011 they hit the UK scene after entering and winning the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards which earned them a slot at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2012 which is where our folking “Ow R U” stalwart interviewer, Paul Johnson caught up with em backstage for a chat…
AS WINTER SETS IN BIG TIME – WE TAKE A WARM LOOK BACK TO WHEN IOSCAID – THE BBC YOUNG FOLK AWARD WINNERS SET, MESMORIZED THE CROPREDY 2012 CROWED BACK IN THAT WONDERFUL AUGUST SUMMER SUNSHINE THAT NOW SEEMS SO LONG AGO!
But they needed a lesson on the Matty Groves story first…
As well as having the best Cropredy weather for years, in 2012 and winning countless medals at the Olympics – as we basked in the glorious sunshine smiling with a pint Wadworth’s Horizon beer in a sunny Cropredy contented way – I had the pleasure of catching up with BBC young folk award winners Ioscaid (pronounced ‘Iss – Kidge’) for a chat about their success so far, but not before noticing several posters around the Cropredy site displaying Fairports Olympics results as follows
Lord Darnold – Fencing – Gold
Servant – Swimming – Gold
Maty Groves – Fencing – Did not finish!
Hiring Fair Maid – Breast Stroke Gold
So seeing that the three members of Ioscaid I was about to interview reading these posters looking totally puzzled they asked me what these were all about!!!
The interview could not start until I had recited all lyrics of Matty Groves with full explanations to these lovely young lads bless em !!!! Now they know, and I can take credit for a tiny piece of these lads musical education!! Paul Johnson
Click on the player below to listen to the interview….