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Donal Clancy: Songs of A Roving Blade
With Special Guests:

Mary Rafferty: Accordion (track 6, whistle track 11)

Benny McCarthy: Accordion (Tracks 1 & 3)

Donnchadh Gough: Percussion

Dave Power: Uilleann Pipes

Martin Murray: Mandolin, Banjo, Fiddle

Sean O'Fearghail: Fiddles (track 4)

Karan Casey: Backing vocals (tracks 1 & 3)

Pat Sheridan: Backing vocals (5 & 6)

"Dónal Clancy has bravely taken up the mantle of his illustrious forbears, particularly of his father, Liam Clancy, and performs with the same emotion, intensity, care, subtle nuance and effortless mastery. He builds a warm, sympathetic rapport with his audience, explaining, just as Liam used to do, the story behind, the origin, and his own personal connection and affectionate link with each song he performs. He has the same easy way with the audience that Liam had, a grace and charm in his introductions, wonderful diction and above all, the greatest praise for a singer in my belief, his feeling for the songs is nothing short of spine-tingling". - Joe Power (Na Conneries Singing Club, Dungarvan)

Also available from Copperplate and featuring Donal: Danu: Buan

Audio

The Brooms of the Cowdenknowes:

The Limerick Rake:

I Once Loved a Lass:

Track Listing

  1. Mrs McGrath

  2. Roisin The Bow.

  3. The Brooms of the Cowdenknowes.

  4. The Limerick Rake.

  5. Sally Brown.

  6. Heave Away My Johnny

  7. Eileen Aruin.

  8. Nancy Whisky.

  9. An Cruiscin Lan.

  10. I Once Loved A Lass.

  11. The Sean Bhean Bhocht.

  12. Roddy McCorley.

Dónal Clancy is an acclaimed guitarist, singer and performer. His father and uncles of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were the first group to bring Irish folk song to a worldwide audience in the 1960's and Dónal grew up in a household and community steeped in music. He spent his early childhood in Canada and the US before his family settled back in An Rinn, Co.Waterford in 1983.

His father gave him his first guitar at the age of eight and he was playing professionally by his early teens. After returning from a residency at Delaney's Irish Pub in Hong Kong in the mid-nineties, he co-founded the group Danú but left soon after to join a trio with his father, Liam, and cousin, Robbie O'Connell. Their debut tour in 1996 took them across the US, from the Santa Anita Race Track in Los Angeles to Lincoln Center in NY City. They continued to tour together for a couple of more years and recorded two albums before they disbanded in the late nineties.

In 1998, Dónal moved to New York where he became the go-to guitarist for many of the top Irish music acts. He contributed to albums and tours with Riverdance fiddler, Eileen Ivers, and was guest guitarist with The Chieftains on their Tears of Stone Tour in Japan and the US in 1999. From 2000 - 2002 he was a member of the Irish-American super-group Solas and in 2003 he re-joined the group Danú who would go on to become one of the most successful Irish bands today. He also contributed to the soundtrack of Ric Burns award winning documentary film New York and in 2006 released his debut solo guitar album Close To Home which The Boston Globe dubbed "a sweet masterpiece of melodic grace and riveting groove".

In 2009, Dónal returned to live in Ireland with his wife, Mary and their three children. After the death of his father (the last remaining member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem) he began to focus his attention on the family repertoire of songs that he grew up with, while keeping the Clancy tradition alive with his solo performances.

More details available at www.donalclancy.com

Press Reviews

The Living Tradition 102
The Clancy family of County Tipperary has been a huge influence on the Irish tradition for many years and this CD is one Donal, son of Liam, can be justly proud of. Hearing this for the first time, you'd know this voice is from one of the Clancy clan. Donal has a distinct and leisurely singing style, one which should be a lesson to any singer, Irish or otherwise, and this CD is a collection of fairly well-known songs, beautifully sung and tastefully accompanied by some classy players.

The songs may be well known, many drawn from the early folk revival of which Donal's father Liam was such an important part, but the delivery is full of the same respect his dad had for the tradition. Modern 'folk' supergroups are mainly a mystery to me and while many readers will be aware that Donal has been part of both Solas and Danu, as a 'folk' ignoramus I was very impressed by Donal's style. Mind you, having heard Kathleen McPeake sing Eileen Aroon so beautifully with her harp, I approached track 7 with caution, but what a great job he does on this classic of the Irish tradition!

There are a couple of shanties, but not sung like shanties, if you know what I mean, and An Cruiskin Lan is done with great conviction, with David Power sympathetic and rhythmic on the uilleann pipes. Even such old favourites as Roddy McCorley and Nancy Whiskey are given new life, although maybe this Scots song should require dropping the 'e' in whiskey? Ah no, that's being pedantic, this is a lovely CD and a credit to all concerned. Jim Bainbridge

R2 May/June 14 Reviews ****
The Clancy family is one of the most illustrious dynasties in Irish music and Donal has long since left his own indelible trace on the Irish tradition as part of two of the most in?uential folk bands of the present generation — Danu and Solas.

Following the death, in 2009, of his father Liam, the 'last man standing' of The Clancy Brothers, Donal developed a deepening interest in his father's repertoire and while cousin Finbarr's band The High Kings has inherited the somewhat stagey presentation popularised by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, Donal seems to take his cues from a more private version of his father.

The twelve songs that go to make up the record are all songs his father and uncles would have sang. For a man who spent much of his childhood and a fair part of his adult life in North America, he sings in as clear a Waterford accent as anyone could hope to hear, uncannily like his father at times, and he sings with obvious gusto and an intimacy with his material. On the face of it the world mightn't need another Irish ballad record but these versions certainly warrant a listen. Greg McAteer

The Living Tradition
The Clancy family of County Tipperary has been a huge influence on the Irish tradition for many years and this CD is one Donal, son of Liam, can be justly proud of. Hearing this for the first time, you'd know this voice is from one of the Clancy clan. Donal has a distinct and leisurely singing style, one which should be a lesson to any singer, Irish or otherwise, and this CD is a collection of fairly well-known songs, beautifully sung and tastefully accompanied by some classy players.

The songs may be well known, many drawn from the early folk revival of which Donal's father Liam was such an important part, but the delivery is full of the same respect his dad had for the tradition. Modern 'folk' supergroups are mainly a mystery to me and while many readers will be aware that Donal has been part of both Solas and Danu, as a 'folk' ignoramus I was very impressed by Donal's style. Mind you, having heard Kathleen McPeake sing Eileen Aroon so beautifully with her harp, I approached track 7 with caution, but what a great job he does on this classic of the Irish tradition!

There are a couple of shanties, but not sung like shanties, if you know what I mean, and An Cruiskin Lan is done with great conviction, with David Power sympathetic and rhythmic on the uilleann pipes. Even such old favourites as Roddy McCorley and Nancy Whiskey are given new life, although maybe this Scots song should require dropping the 'e' in whiskey? Ah no, that's being pedantic, this is a lovely CD and a credit to all concerned. Jim Bainbridge

www.fatea.co.uk 04.14
Donal Clancy is an artist with the weight of legacy sitting on his shoulders. The son of Liam Clancy of The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem fame, a band often credited with taking Irish music to a mass market, Donal was a founder member of Irish American supergroup, Solas as well a regular and current member of Danu where he gained a reputation as a guitarist that had the likes of The Chieftains knocking at his door.

Listening to "Songs Of A Roving Blade" I found myself thinking of this as a Celtic equivalent of Rosanne Cash's "The List" and a look at the sleeve notes only reinforced that feeling with references not only to his illustrious relatives, but also to other acts that he's been associated with. Indeed the album is dedicated to the great family figures from which he seems to have inherited his talent from.

As such it's very difficult to fault the track selection which covers a range of Irish music from a good number of years, taking in personal, political and working songs all delivered with Liam's distinct brogue.

Despite the confidence that comes through in the vocal, until recently Donal was happy to let his guitar do the talking for him, it was his desire to honour the family legacy that saw him stepping up to the position behind the microphone and a damned fine job he's done of it.

The twelve tracks on "Songs OF A Roving Blade" allow Donal Clancy to step out of the relative shadows and into the limelight and it has to be said that he shines in it. This is Irish music from the top division, entertaining and pertinent. You could do a lot worse than check this out if you want to get an understanding of Irish music and why it moves so many people. Neil King

www.folk words.com 04.14

Dónal Clancy 'Songs of a Roving Blade' timeless songs from an enduring tradition

My grandpa had a saying to cover anything that was so good it always lived up to and usually exceeded your expectations. 'Tim,' he would say, 'breeding will out.' And although he was mostly talking about horses, here's another example of the truth in that old man's words - 'Songs of a Roving Blade' from Dónal Clancy. If you want to touch the traditional soul of Ireland and bathe your ears in the heritage that lives in its song and stories you need go no further.

The lyrical legacy left to Dónal by his father and uncles is clear to hear and it's partly this family songbook that lives and breathes through this album. Like many a thoroughbred Irish singer, when Dónal sings you're whisked away to other times and places. You hear echoes of those eternal voices that still remain long after their owners have passed beyond this world. An enduring tradition that remains as fresh and vital now as it was generations ago. And with custodians like Dónal its future looks safe and secure.

The timeless songs on offer include an old family version of 'Mrs McGrath' , 'Rosin The Bow' , the longing of 'The Broom of the Cowdenknowes' , splendid takes on the working songs of the sea 'Sally Brown' and 'Heave Away My Johnny' and of course, songs of rebellion with 'The Sean Bhan Bhoct' and 'Roddy McCorley' recounting tales of rebellion against British rule of 1798.

Recognised for his time with Solas and Danu, this solo album is Dónal reflecting with a deep regard on family and culture to deliver songs that are integral to his birth right. You can find Dónal's website here: donalclancy.com

Alongside Dónal on selected tracks on 'Songs of a Roving Blade' are Martin Murray (mandolin, banjo, fiddle) Benny McCarthy (accordion) Donnchadh Gough (bodhrán) Seán Ó Fearghail (fiddle) David Power (uilleann pipes) Mary Rafferty (accordion) Pat Sheridan and Karan Casey (backing vocals). Reviewer: Tim Carroll

Irish Music Magazine January 2014 Edition
This for me is the goose—bump album of 2014. Mind you I had thrill of hearing a pre—release download just before Christmas, and what a welcome present it was.

Why the goose bumps? Liam Clancy is the answer. Back in the winter of 1995/96 I spent four months singing with Liam on the recording of a couple of his Helvic label albums. Dónal was on both of them, but as the recording process is fragmentary we never actually got it together as a band until we appeared on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne.

Songs of a Roving Blade album was recorded in the very same setting of the family studio in An Rinn, this album being dedicated to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and rightly so. Dónal explains in the album notes that after his father died, there was a silence in the house but the ghosts of the songs were with him. Although until then he'd been happier to play the guitar, the songs had to be sung.

Sing them he does on this album. Fans of the Clancy's will recognise almost every one of them, from Rosin The Bow, The Broom of the Cowdenknowes, Crúíscín Lán, Heave Away My Johnny, The Sean Bhan Bhoct and more. Mrs McGrath is an old family version, with a melody and chorus that were both new to me.

The goose bumps hit when Dónal sings. There are genetics at work here, he has the same vocal qualities as his father, that uncanny ability with timing, the clarity of diction, subtle storytelling, unhurried, unsullied singing. Is it nature or nurture? It has to be both of course.

So is this a tribute album? Yes and No. Dónal has been around the block enough times now to have his own career, with a long stint in Danú and collaborations with a huge number of players singers, he doesn't have to rest on the family credentials. But, this is different, these are the family jewels, and why wouldn't he want the world to share them again?

His guitar playing is of course of the highest quality, delicate finger picking on Sally Brown, a punchy chop on Roddy McCorley. The backing band he has put together for the album is top drawer too. It includes his wife Mary Rafferty on box and whistle, Martin Murray on mandolin, banjo and fiddle, Seán Ó Fearghail adds fiddle on The Limerick Rake. He is joined by Danú band mates Benny McCarthy on box and Donnchadh Gough on bodhrán. David Power guests on uilleann pipes, with Karan Casey on vocals and my old sparring partner from '96 Pat Sheridan on backing vocals on two shanties.

This might be called Songs Of A Roving Blade, but Dónal hasn't strayed that far from his roots and the world has another Clancy to carry the torch for folk songs. I can see Dónal roving this album around the world in 2014, a great vintage already, and it has only just been bottled! - Seán Laffey

Irish Echo Trad Music Column, NYC
The number of really interesting vocal CDs I receive is far less then the number of tune-oriented recordings, so when I get a great one I listen to it with rapt attention. Dónal Clancy's 'Songs of a Roving Blade' is one such album. It's brilliantly executed, contains an excellent selection of songs and will appeal to people who love great singing. It's a real pleasure to listen to.

Born in 1975 and living in both Canada and the U.S. before settling in Co. Waterford in 1983, Clancy comes from the family that spawned the legendary Clancy Brothers group. As a result, he started with a stellar musical pedigree that he's been at pains to build on over the years.

His father Liam began showing Dónal around the guitar when he was just eight; by age 15, he was playing professionally. In 1995, Clancy co-founded the great group Danú, left shortly thereafter to tour with his father and his brilliant cousin, Robbie O'Connell as Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy. Then, in 1998, he came to the US and got involved with music here, working with the likes of Solas, Eileen Ivers and the Chieftains. (He also backed 'The New Broom,' the brilliant 2009 album from Mike Rafferty and Willie Kelly, which everybody should own.) In 2003 he rejoined Danú and in 2006, released his critically acclaimed solo debut 'Close to Home.' Without a doubt, he is one of the most sought after singers and backers in the tradition.

The quality and depth of this background is fully evident on this album, which is bursting with great music. Much of it coming from Clancy's own musical past. Tracks like 'Mrs. McGrath' (which features Karan Casey on backing vocals), 'The Limerick Rake' (with Seán Ó Fearghail on fiddle) and the sparkling 'I Once Loved A Lass' are all lovely songs that Clancy attributes to family members.

Tracks like 'The Broom Of The Cowdenknowes' and 'Nancy Whiskey' are ones that come from his days with Clancy, O'Connell and Clancy. 'The Sean-Bhean Bhocht' comes from those days as well, although the group recorded with a different melody. (The one Clancy uses here was borrowed from Frank Harte's great version.)

'An Crúiscín Lán' — the only fully Irish language song on the album, and includes David Power on uilleann pipes — is rooted in Waterford's Gaeltacht, and one both Clancy and his father learned independent from one another. It's a terrific addition that adds nice variety.

Two other songs that add to the stylistic diversity are of Jamaican interest, 'Sally Brown' and 'Heave Away My Johnny.' The former is a nineteenth century sea shanty found throughout Atlantic ports that collectors like Stan Hugill suggest likely came from Jamaica, which it likely did, although versions have been collected throughout the Caribbean. The latter's origin is not immediately known. It's again a sea song and one very clearly linked to Jamaica, with references to leaving 'Kingston' and 'St. Andrew's dock' which are Parishes in Jamaica that have shared a governing body, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), since 1923.

Ultimately, 'Songs of a Roving Blade' is an album fans of trad music should quickly fall in love with. The songs Clancy chooses are great, but it's the taste with which he handles them — the phrasing in his voice and style in his accompaniment — that separates this vocal album from others out there at the moment. Daniel Neely

Price: £13.99

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