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PAUL HARRIGAN - Music From The White Stone 

PAUL HARRIGAN - Music From The White Stone 
White Stone Records WSRCD001 

Very much a family affair, this album features Paul on uilleann pipes/accordion/low whistle/bodhrán, his sister Roisin McGrory on fiddle, and for one track they are joined by his wife Una Ní Bhriain on fiddle and his daughter Aobha Ní Aragáin on banjo. They are aided and abetted throughout by the guitar playing of Tim Edey (no introduction needed!) and the harp playing of Joleen McLaughlin (of The Henry Girls).

Paul is a multi-instrumentalist from Inishowen, Co Donegal who, as well as being a performing musician, also runs the Ceol na Coille School of Irish Traditional Music in Letterkenny which includes a week-long summer school providing classes, workshops, recitals, nightly sessions and concerts. Just to prove the multi-instrumentalist point, Paul has the distinction of being All-Ireland champion on both the uilleann pipes and piano accordion. He has taught and inspired a new generation of excellent young musicians in the Donegal area, some of whom have gone on to win All-Ireland medals themselves.

The music on this CD is primarily tasty piping, and, particularly when Paul plays with Roisin, boasts a tightness that only comes with sibling understanding and phrasing. Paul's overlaid accordion provides a balanced backfill to the piping and Tim and Joleen's accompaniment is subdued and subtle and complements the playing very nicely.

The selection of material is broad ranging, many rare tunes taken from the Honoria Galwey Old Irish Croonauns (1910) and from local Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí's collections, with a few of Paul's own compositions which sit seamlessly with the older traditional tunes. Paul has taken many tunes normally associated with the Donegal fiddle tradition and transferred them to the pipes, breathing new life and character into them. Very informative and comprehensive sleeve notes by Caoimhin MacAoidh make an interesting read and give a detailed background to the history and sources of the tunes.

This is a fine selection of tunes, tastefully delivered.

Jim Byrne


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine