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Cló Iar-Chonnacht CICD191

Gearóidín’s one of the sweetest-toned singers in the tradition of the Donegal Gaeltacht and her charming delivery is well showcased on this CD, on which she delivers a dozen traditional Irish songs, pure and simple. Seven of these are sung a cappella, while the remainder are blessed with a sympathetically straightforward (if sometimes a touch stagey) keyboard accompaniment courtesy of Lisa Philbin. Nevertheless, it’s one’s enjoyment of the particular characteristics of Gearóidín’s voice that should by rights be the determining factor here, for it’s a persuasive instrument of expression, delightfully lively and light-textured, which suits her chosen material well. The selection was made following Gearóidín’s visits to schools in Donegal, where she received constant requests for recordings of the songs she sang there, many of which are not readily found nowadays. Several of these, like A Stór A Stór A Ghrá, are suitable for schoolchildren to sing too.

Highlights among the a cappella items include the lilting Siobhán Ní Dhuibhir; Cruacha Glas Na hÉireann, which Gearóidín learnt from her mother (Treasa Ní Chonaill); Cill Aodáin, a little-known school song in praise of Cill Liadáin in Co Mayo; and the catchy work song Tuirne Mháire; whereas the enchanting Gardaí An Rí and Óro Sé Do Bheatha Abhaile are both enhanced by the understated keyboard accompaniment. Gearóidín states in her liner notes that her decision to use musical accompaniment for some of the songs was taken in order to make them attractive for children (furthermore, two of the five accompanied songs utilise melodies which will doubtless be familiar from childhood: Cad é Sin Don té Sin is a child’s playground song, while Mo Mhadhadh Beag approximates a variant of Green Grow The Rashes-O).

Gearóidín turns in an unpretentious, appealing set of performances here and careful listening will reveal subtleties and delights that any first impression of relative insubstantiality will quickly dispel. My only quibble is that the otherwise well-endowed booklet doesn’t stretch to providing English translations (or at very least, brief précis) of the actual texts.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.