Link to Living Tradition Homepage





JIM MacARDLE, EILIS QUINN & MICK DUNNE - Madam, I'd Like To Be Tossin' Your Hay

JIM MacARDLE, EILIS QUINN & MICK DUNNE - Madam, I'd Like To Be Tossin' Your Hay
Louth Louth Music  LLM024

A collection of music and song from around Drogheda in County Louth is a relatively rare beast. Not that there isn't music in this area between Dublin's Home Counties and the former badlands along the border with Northern Ireland. South Louth has always been home to plenty of musicians - notably the late Joe Ryan from Clare - but its own music has been hard to find. Garry Walsh recently recorded two albums of Louth music on flute, but that's about it. Here we have the devil's alphabet of accordion, banjo and concertina, plus vocals from Jim MacArdle, with seventeen tracks from the repertoire of Mary Ann Carolan and other Louth musicians. The title sets the tone for the five songs here, mostly music-hall or Percy French style: Young Bob Ridley from the minstrel shows of the early 1900s, a song of a similar vintage which I know as I'll Weep And I'll Wander, and a version of P Stands For Paddy which actually makes more sense than most. There's a local song in praise of Clogherhead and environs, and the comic ditty In Sweet Tyrone, both set to well-known tunes. All are clearly and firmly sung, with fitting accompaniment from the trio and a few guests.

The tunes here are a mix of standard session fare and local favourites. The CD title comes from a lively jig, paired with Bobby Casey's. The well-known Templehouse Reel is similarly juxtaposed with The Drogheda Lasses, presumably a local tune but learnt from Leitrim fiddler John Gray. The button box and concertina keep to a gentle pace for The Tin Town Reels, a couple of rare tunes named in gentle scorn of Laytown's holiday shacks. There's a pair of similarly stately compositions from Jim, and a big set of five classic reels which maintain the relaxed tempo. Polkas and quadrilles recall popular song melodies, while a couple of old reels are recycled as flings. Blistering pace is not to be found on this recording. There's also little attempt at polish in the ensemble playing. If this album was a chair, you'd be in for some very uncomfortable splinters. The impression on some tracks is of an impromptu session, the musicians fitting in where they can, the tunes not always entirely familiar. A clear exception is the final air, A Tune for Joe, written by Jim for Joe Ryan and touchingly played here on strings and reeds. As a taste of Louth music, or a small local session, this release works well. However, it's a far cry from the polished packages most of us are used to so I'd advise you to try before you buy.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.