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OISÍN MAC DIARMADA "Ar an Bhfidil" Ceol Records CEOCD002

This is really good fiddle playing by a 24 year old who's got more talent than many older fiddlers. Moving from Clare to Sligo as a lad must have done something for him because he has a mixture of both styles as well as his own personality stamped on his playing. He wrote his own concise but thorough sleeve notes giving due credit to the players he got the tunes from and they show the wide range of the players who influenced him, Coleman, James Morrison, John McKenna, and Ennis (of course).

He seems to be able to change style as easily as changing key, from the old Clare style of the first track, to the 1920s James Morrison/Michael Coleman tracks on The Tap Room/The Kerryman's Daughter, via John McKenna, Josie McDermott, Denis Murphy and Ed Reavy. Yet throughout, he puts his own style of playing on every tune. In some ways, his ability to do this is reminiscent of Frankie Gavin in one of his mischievous moods.

There's a good mix of tunes, mostly well known but with rarities like a Séamus Ennis version of The Lark in the Morning that's not often played now. Reels predominate, of course, but there are single and double jigs, hornpipes, and Leitrim style polkas too. A big surprise is The Strayaway Child, composed by Maggie Barry (who's become known as Margaret lately), that Michael Gorman used to play. But the big one for me is The Morning Thrush, composed by Séamus Ennis's father James. I've never heard anyone else but Ennis play this, and Mac Diarmada makes a great fist of it. It's a great pipe tune that deserves more playing.

My old friend Paddy Ryan wrote the introduction to the CD and says at the end that he can highly recommend it. I sometimes disagreed with Paddy in the past, but not this time. This is great music, well played by a fine young fiddler. I look forward to his next release.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.