Seoda Ceoil Recordings Re-issued by Gael Linn
Originally published in 1968 and 69 on LP and tape by Gael Linn, in association with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the Seoda Ceoil ‘showcase’-like albums 1 and 2 have been re-issued as a two-CD package.
Conceived as part of a larger series ‘of our best traditional musicians and singers’ presenting ‘music of their own native places’, it now represents a small sample of the seminal collecting work and passing on of tunes and songs achieved by various individuals and institutions down the years. Breandán Breathnach and Séamus MacMathúna are credited with selecting the music for Seoda Ceoil 1 and a music committee from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for Seoda Ceoil 2. The tracks were recorded in Peter Hunt’s Studio and production for the first LP was by Seán Ó Mórdha.
Available now for the first time in many years, and digitally remastered, twenty-five of the twenty-nine items captured by Breathnach and MacMathúna on number 1 ‘had not been previously recorded’.
Seoda Ceoil 1 has a focus on ‘three artistes from the West Coast’, Willie Clancy (Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare; uilleann pipes), Seán Ó Conaire (Rosmuc, Co. Galway; sean-nós singing) and John Kelly (Rehy, Co. Clare; fiddle/concertina). The sleevenotes mention that Rehy (or ‘Réidthe’) was part of the Clare Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking area, when Kelly was growing up; one of the tunes he plays is named after another Rehy fiddle-player, Mike Callaghan.
Clancy plays a set of flat pipes lent to him by Dan O’Dowd for the recording. The notes mention that he was ‘one of the few pipers who fully mastered the art of “closed” fingering on the chanter… He produces the most charming variations unexpectedly, and obviously quite spontaneously…’. Ó Conaire, known for his broad repertoire, and who also played the accordion and harmonica, sings ‘An Cumann Gearr’ and ‘Ceann gan Árainn’.
Listen below to Kelly play ‘The Tinker’s Wife’ / ‘The Flogging Reel’ set on concertina.
Seoda Ceoil 2 has an East coast leaning, featuring Séamus Ennis (Jamestown, Co. Dublin; uilleann pipes), J.J. Gannon (Strokestown, Co. Westmeath; accordion) and Seán Keane (Dublin; fiddle), but also Seosamh Ó hÉanaí (Carna, Co. Galway; sean-nós singing).
Ennis is described as having ‘no equal when it comes to good traditional piping… The son of a great piper, Seámus himself was quick to admit that he owed his mastery of all the tricks and techniques of the art to his father.’ Keane is described as ‘a product of the post-Fleadh era’ and ‘of the outstanding musicians of the period’, and that he ‘allies considerable technical ability to a sophisticated and artistic conception of sean-nós fiddling.’
Gannon’s playing is ‘crisp and staccato and his selection includes some rare single jigs’. Ó hÉanaí is described as ‘at his best in these recordings You may play them over and over, discovering delightful passages of beauty each time.’
Listen below to Ó hÉanaí singing ‘A Chailín Bhig na Luachra’ (‘Young Girl of the Rushes’).
The accompanying notes are written by Séamus Mac Mathúna (Seoda Ceoil 1 and 2) and Seán Mac Réamoinn (Seoda Ceoil 1). The CD is released as part of Gael Linn’s 60th anniversary celebrations.