Commonalities and heritage explored in brand-new music residency

Musicians and poets from across the UK and Ireland create work inspired by ancient diversity

Oran Bagraidh
Lorcán Mac Mathúna

Ten of the UK and Ireland’s finest traditional poets and musical artists including vocalists using five languages, medieval instruments: crwth and northern triplepipes as well as fiddle, harp, accordian and electronics will join together in a music residency to re-invigorate and create new music inspired by past peoples and languages of Britain.

Award winning Scots/ Gaelic singer Josie Duncan, lauded Irish song archaelogist Lorcan Mac Mathuna, former Welsh poet laureate and singer Gwyneth Glyn, celebrated Irish Sean-Nós singer Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde, Belfast fiddler Conor Caldwell, ancient instrument virtuoso Barnaby Brown, poet, singer and performance artist MacGillivray, widely published poet Rody Gorman and medieval Welsh duo Bragod will join together in a house in Galloway in South West Scotland for one week to explore their respective histories and languages through poetry and music.

Inspired by the mysterious Galloway Gaelic song ‘Oran Bagraidh’, artists will compose in the space between imagination and history. Taking the theme of multiple identities, within ancient Galloway and indeed themselves, they will explore commonalities and differences between languages, regional histories and musical sensibilities, dipping into traditional, experimental and electronic.

Waves of peoples have passed through the islands of Britain and Ireland throughout time. Many of these Welsh, Irish, Gaelic, Norse, Scots and English speakers traversed and settled in South West Scotland – a major geographic, linguistic and cultural crossroads throughout history and still a significant land and sea border area today.

‘Oran Bagraidh’ (‘Song Of Defiance’) is the only surviving example of Galloway Gaelic, widely spoken across the region from the 5th to 18th century, always alongside other British languages also spoken in the area.

The recorded work will be released in February 2019, produced by Ben Seal. It will be followed by a tour in UK and Ireland.

The Oran Bagraidh residency is produced by Katch Holmes for Knockengorroch as part of the organisation’s Off Site programme. The project is funded by Creative Scotland, Arts Council Ireland and PRSF Foundation and supported by Barscobe Heritage Trust.

Website: https://www.knockengorroch.org.uk/off-site/

The Battle Of Clontarf

Deep End Of The Ford
Deep End Of The Ford

On April 23, the 1000th anniversary of one of the most important dates in Norse-Irish history will pass. On this day in 1014 the largest pitched battle in Irish history to that date occured just outside the walls of Dublin; the Irish stronghold of the Vikings.

How that encounter was depicted went down in history and mythology.

The following is a live recording of ‘Battle of Clontarf’, written especially to commemorate this encounter and performed by Deep End Of The Ford earlier this year in Dublin.

For more about Deep End Of The Ford and their stunning album An Táin visit http://www.lorcanmacmathuna.com/antain/

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LORCÁN MAC MATHÚNA – Northern Lights – Darkness And Light – Own Label LMMO11001

Lorcán Mac Mathúna is best known in Ireland as a Sean-Nós singer. He’s also a man of great imagination and Darkness And Light (Dubh Agus Geal to give it its Irish title) is the first result of his Northern Lights project, exploring the links between the music of Ireland and Scandinavia.

If you think that’s odd, Lorcán explains that a thousand years ago Dublin was a major Viking ship building port and the cultural cross-fertilization was evident as late as the 16th century. If you still doubt consider ‘Sven In The Rosegarden’ and ‘I’m Sick To My Heart’ which bear strong similarities to British ballads. All the songs on this album are traditional, sung in Irish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. Lorcán is joined by Raphael De Cock, James Mahon, Connor Lyons and Joey Doyle in a band heavy with drones, whistles and flutes. There are two sets of pipes, hardingfele and Jews Harp producing a haunting, almost mediaeval sound when coupled with the vocals of Lorcán and Raphael.

‘Over The Waves’ mixes two songs, ‘Hermond Don Idde’ and ‘Craigie Hill’, with alternate verses in Danish and English leading into two rather jolly tunes. ‘The Frozen North’ again alternates verses, this time in Norwegian and Irish, telling a story which has parallels with ‘The Ship In Distress’ and is the most haunting performance on the album.

Although Dubh Agus Geal may appear at first to be a rather scholarly and esoteric work it is also extremely listenable. Not only do the players mix songs they also mix dance tunes with hardanger fiddle, pipes and lilting into something new. There is a great deal to discover in this record and much to enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Links: www.lorcanmacmathuna.com