Tim Dennehy again joins forces with Garry O'Briain in this his sixth album. It's a beautiful presentation of Tim's original songs and favourite poems. These have been woven from deeply felt emotions, penned from an inner impulse and carefully honed at numerous gatherings of singers, musicians and poets over the past thirty years.
Tim Dennehy was born in Ballinskelligs and later the family moved to nearby Cahersiveen.
Both his parents sang and were inheritors of a huge store of songs and stories in the Irish language.
Tim's mother, Nora Kelly from Cill Rialaig, had developed the custom of constantly singing as she went about her daily chores and this left an indelible mark. Her father Pádraig is one of the oldest voices in the Iveragh peninsula.
Tim spent a number of years working in Dublin and then moved to Co. Clare.
He teaches at Ennis C.B.S. Primary School and for many years was part of a team
of traditional and folk music presenters on Clare FM Radio.
He continues to write poems and songs and is a regular contributor to various workshops
and singing weekends throughout the country and abroad.
He lives with his wife Máirín in Miltown-Malbay, Co. Clare and they have two sons, Tadhg and Seán.
For more details on Tim go to his own web site www.sceilig.com
Old Boots and Flying Sandals:
Be Still as you are Beautiful:
- Leaba Shíoda
- Old Boots & Flying Sandals
- A Winter's Tear
- Farewell to Pripyat
- Seeilig Mhichíl
- To Jane
- An Nollaig Theas
- Be Still As You Are Beautiful
- I Know What I'm Missing
- The Parted Years
- The Deep End
- Keep In Touch
- The Ballad of James Meere
- Cry of the Mountain
Old Boots & Flying Sandals is the latest of six albums from renowned traditional singer songwriter Tim Dennehy. This unique album of original compositions and favourite poems set to music, marks another milestone in the evolution of Tim's singing and songwriting career. 'Old Boots and Flying Sandals' from which the album gets its name, is a jaunty trip back to Tim's childhood in South Kerry but overlies more sombre memories and influences that permeate the album.
Love, loss and separation, embedded in the many haunting lyrics, are rekindled through the poetry of Shelley, Fenton, Kavanagh and Kenneally among others. Tim's soulful musical interpretation resonates a deep connection with the past, breathes new life into poems old and new, yet is never out of touch with the vicissitudes of modern life.
Old Boots and Flying Sandals is a repository of song. Some tracks are familiar, some are new while others are rearranged but the album is not without its surprises. The mix of accompanied and unaccompanied songs and poems gives a perfect balance and reflects a versatility and ease with the material from which the listener can draw both solace and hope.
Clare-based guitarist Garry O'Briain who has worked with Tim on previous albums, has contributed once again with varied musical arrangements and accompaniment. Other well-known artists include Nollaigh Ní Cathasaigh (fiddle), Josephine Marsh (accordion), Tommy Keane (flute) with Jesse Smith (fiddle), Liz Johnston (cello) and harmony vocals by Áine Derrane.
Songs in the Irish language find a natural home in Tim's repetoire. Growing up in the Iveragh peninsula immersed in the lore and songs of the Gaeltacht, love of language was inescapable. Striking among his inspired choices for this album is the inclusion of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill's poem 'Leaba Shíoda" beautifully set to music and sensitively sung by Tim. Others include a simple, ancient prayer, An Nollaig Theas and Scarúint, a poetic tribute to Junior Crehan, a father-figure of traditional music in Co. Clare and beyond.
According to Tim, 'this album has created itself. Somehow it felt natural to bring my original songs and favourite poems into one space and make them accessible for those who already enjoy what I do and perhaps in the process reach a new and wider audience'.
Tim is widely acknowledged for his singing performances and song workshops at Arts & Traditional Festivals throughout Ireland, Europe and the United States.
'Old Boots and Flying Sandals' was produced by Garry O'Briain & Tim Dennehy
Press Reviews"The land and lore of his native County Kerry and adopted County Clare predominate in songs that are powerfully rendered and intensely felt". The Irish Times"
"An exceptionally beautiful and moving album. Highly recommended". David Granville
Taplas The Welsh Folk Magazine 22.11.07
VETERAN singer Tim Dennehy has established quite a reputation for himself with his five albums to date. This sixth one is slightly different in that it is a compilation of original songs, many of them his own, and musical settings of poems such as Nuala Ni Dhomnaill's Leaba Shioda.
Accompaniment is provided mainly by producer Garry O'Briain on guitar, mandocello and keyboards, with contributions from Josephine Marsh (accordion), Nollaigh Ni Chathasaigh (violin and viola), Jesse Smith (viola), Liz Johnstone (cello) and Tommy Keane (whistle and flute).
A number of the songs are about family members: his late brother Pat (Memorial), his late mother (The Parted Years), and his two sons Sean and Tadhg (The Deep End), forming an interesting tryptich.
Particularly impressive are Tim's composition Sceilig Mhicil, about the distinctive rock off the coast of his native Kerry, and Cry of the Mountain, his song about the Burren in County Clare, where he now lives. His tribute to the late Junior Crehan Scaruint is solemnly intoned to the accompaniment of a slow air played by Tommy Keane on the flute, bringing the CD to an impressive close. KATE FLETCHER
The Living Tradition
I'll spare you the precis of the usual promotional bumph, as readers of TLT don't need telling who Tim Dennehy is. Suffice to say two things: that this is Tim's sixth album, and more importantly, that those of us who feel that Mickey MacConnell's The Tinkerman's Daughter is a true masterpiece, should realise the huge debt owed to Tim who first adapted Sigerson Clifford's The Tinker's Daughter to music and whose song proved to be the inspiration for Mickey's version.
This is an album that exudes artistic integrity. There are positively no gimmicks, and no concessions to the less-than-earnest listener. You need to concentrate on the lyric if you want to catch the story: and many of these stories are well-worth-the-catching. No concessions also to those of us who do not hail from the Gaeltacht: this son of Co. Kerry (now based in Co. Clare) delivers four tracks in the Irish language. However, there are English translations for duffers like me who don't have a grasp of the lingo. That said, it is folk like me
he is clearly aiming the album at: he needs to make sales outside the Hibernian diaspora. And I have to say (in support of his Irish-language choices) that never has the Gaelic language sounded more mellifluous. And with the English lyric alongside, I was able to follow all four without a hiccough!
Although SEPIA is the colour that runs through most of the tracks - Dennehy is very strong on nostalgia - don't get it into your head that this album is a hymn of praise to an Ireland and a type of Irishman long gone. (Strike that last sentence, because well, obviously it IS, in part. But only in part.) It also covers a surprising range of subject. One of the better tracks is Farewell to Pripyat, a moving song from Tim's pen on the fate of village nearest the Chernobyl plant. There have been several songs on the plight of the people affected by the radioactivity, but this is the first I can recall that describes what happened to the Ukrainian village when it was deserted by its fleeing inhabitants. And golly, his images are razor-sharp.
And talking of his range: then there is a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley set (perhaps not altogether convincingly) by Tim's producer and talented multi-instrumentalist, Garry O'Briain. And then there is another poem by James Fenton. Now, Fenton (Professor of Poetry at Oxford) is a poet that I - like Tim - have long admired. However, I Know What I Am Missing never struck me as that much of a poem. However, Tim believed in it sufficiently as to put music to it, and guess what?
The melody turns an indifferent poem into a fine song lyric! The tune serves as a magic catalyst for the words. And some sublime harmony singing from Aine Derrane added to Liz Johnston's cello, Garry O'Briain's guitar and Jesse Smith's viola, turns it into the outstanding track on this handsomely Digipacked CD. In my book, "to listen" is always an active verb and not a passive one. Thus, whilst perhaps this CD is not for the casual listener, it will more than repay someone who is prepared to make the effort. Dai Woosnam
Tim's sixth release continues the high standard set by the previous five, while marking another milestone in the evolution of his singing and songwriting career by the ever more creative combining of memories of his South Kerry childhood with altogether more sombre recollections and influences. The strong sense of artistic and musical unity with Tim's previous work is emphasised by the redeployment of the Clare-based guitarist Garry O'Briain as producer: as before, Garry's beautiful arrangements fully complement Tim's sensitive singing and the abundant lyricism of the texts (Tim performs some of his own favourite poems, set to his own music, as well as providing plenty of his own song-compositions here). Some are sung in English, some in the Irish language - but this is a virtue not a barrier: the charm and impact of pieces such as An Nollaig Theas cannot be denied.
Just three of the songs are performed unaccompanied, and Tim's lilting delivery is unsurpassable. In fact, it's really difficult not to find myself repeating, verbatim, individual observations within my previous glowing and enthusiastic commentary on album number five, Between The Mountains And The Sea - such is the striking consistency and unity in Tim's work. Stirring yet soothing, sensitive yet passionate, these combinations of qualities are found everywhere in Tim's recordings, and Old Boots And Flying Sandals epitomises their expression and appeal. A very high proportion of the songs stand out for their highly memorable poetic sensibility and acute emotional impact, and I'd defy anyone not to respond to Memorial, The Deep End, Keep In Touch, or the chilling Chernobyl imagery of Farewell To Pripyat.
I've struggled to find a caveat with this intensely beautiful CD, but I'd be neglectful in my critical duty if I didn't point out here that anyone who's familiar with Tim's previous releases will need to know that all but five of the sixteen items on this new disc have appeared before on albums by Tim (three on A Winter's Tear, two on A Thimbleful Of Song, three on Farewell To Milton Malbay and four on The Blue Green Door - and that includes Keep In Touch being already included on two different CDs), whereas the closing track, Scarúint, is a recited version of Parting, a poem printed in the booklet of The Blue Green Door. However, although Tim's earlier recorded versions of those songs are just fine as they are, and his "first interpretations" aren't necessarily markedly different per se, the new recordings are far better in terms of possessing a significant degree of additional depth, clarity in texture and extra glimmers of insight, that make them definitely preferable if a choice needs to be made. Having said that, after some careful comparison I'm led to suspect that a handful of the tracks (at least those from albums three and four) have just been remastered rather than completely re-recorded, whereas some of the earlier examples are very definitely blessed with different arrangements. But even bearing those points in mind, I'd still say that if you'd been tempted towards, and finally purchased, any of Tim's previous releases, you'll be well satisfied with Old Boots..., which comes with full lyrics and comprehensive booklet notes, also a short biographical essay setting Tim himself in context, and the disc is housed in a fulsome digipack. David Kidman
The Irish World
Tim Dennehy's sixth album since 1989 sees the revered singer-songwriter partner up again with Clare-based musician and producer Garry O'Briain, for a radiant rendering of original songs as well as his favourite poems set to music. The track Old Boots and Flying Sandals of the album title, harks back to the happy memories of a childhood in the South of Kerry, but its upbeat tone is contrasted in many areas with darker reflections on the past, such as Memorial; "a celebration of our youth" and a poignant dedication to Dennehy's brother Pat, who died of meningitis in 1968; or The Ballad of James Meere, for the emarginated of society. I Know I'm Missing You, about an absent friend, is a little gem. The Irish inclusions in this album, inspired by Dennehy's great love of the language growing up in the Iveragh Peninsuala, include an evocative version of love poem Leaba Shioda, by Nuala Ni Dhomnaill, the beautifully uncomplicated prayer An Nollaig Theas and Scaruint, an ode to fiddler Junior Crehan.
Said Tim of the album: "It has created itself. Somehow it felt natural to bring my original Isongs and favourite poems into one space and make them accessible for those who already enjoy what I do, and perhaps in the process reach a new and wider audience."
Adding to the talents of Garry O'Briain on the album are Nollaigh Ni Cathasaigh on fiddle, Josephine Marsh on accordion, Tommy Keane on flute, Jesse Smith on fiddle, Liz Johnston on cello and harmony vocals by Aine Derrane. Accompaniment is just right, never too much, allowing space for the quiet power of the verse. Detailed footnotes give us a fantastic insight into the origins of each poem and why Dennehy chose them. Old Boots... is a slow-burning pleasure for lovers of song, poetry and of Dennehy's beloved land. Shelley Marsden
Irish Music Magazine
For Tim Dennehy, heretofore traditional ballads, original material and the poetic works of local and national muses always blended in glove-like harmony. Now his first collection of self-written songs puts him in a unique position. A singer bathed in traditional nuances blessed with the poetic eyes of a sage and the craftsmanship of a professional Tim Dennehy has let his written works escape rather than parade his works in public. One such example is 'Farewell to Pripyat' recorded by Christy Moore. Here he has gathered a collection of his poetic settings of words of others and his own musings in one publication. Some of the tracks are previously released including 'A Winter's Tear' and 'The Ballad of James Meere,' although these are all new recordings.
Dennehy's rich tenor voice versed in ballad singing exudes warmth and control that is as endearing as it is commanding. The backings from musicians like Gary O'Briain, Josephine Marsh and Nollaig Casey are suitably restrained sketching yet never overtaking Dennehy's vocal performances. This is an album devoted to the power of words to evoke emotions and their articulation through one of the finest male voices of his generation. A rich harvest of evocative words delivered with poise and authority, 'Old Boots and Flying Sandals' celebrates Tim Dennehy's position as a wordsmith and vocalist of great imagination and declamatory power. John O'Regan
The Irish Democrat 20.8.07
FOR THIS, his sixth album, highly respected Irish traditional singer songwriter Tim Dennehy has extended his partnership with Clare-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Garry O'Briain to create a delightful collection of original self-penned songs, interspersed with some of the musician's favourite poems set to music.
Dennehy's voice is superbly rich and mellow. Whether he singing unaccompanied or backed by O'Briain (guitar, mandocello, keyboards) and high calibree musicians such as Nollaigh Ní Cathasaigh (fiddle), Josephine Marsh (accordian), Tommy Keane (flute), Jesse Smith (fiddle), Liz Johnston (cello) and Áine Derrane (harmony vocals), the result is uniformly rewarding.
However, the album is not without its darker side, and while poetry, love, loss, longing and the memories of childhood and youth in Co. Kerry are the inspiration for many of Dennehy's intensely personal songs, he is not afraid of embracing the wider concerns of humanity.
This is immediately evident on reading the accompanying liner notes, which include quotes from Michael Coady's poem 'There are also Musicians' (Though there are torturers in the world/There are also musicians) and Bertolt Brecht's 'Motto' (In the dark times/Will there also be singing? / Yes there will also be singing/About the dark times).
Dennehy's unaccompanied rendition of 'The Ballad of James Meere' is exceptionally powerful and haunting. One of the undoubted highlights of the album, it is a tribute to the travelling singers and musicians of Co. Kerry in the 1950s and "dedicated to those who live on or outside the margins of society".
Another Dennehy original, 'Farewell to Pripyat', recounts the fate of the abandoned town that was once home to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant workers. Both poignant and moving, the song reminds us of the town's nightmare past and of the fragile nature of the world we live in.
As might be expected of a true son of the west who grew up in the Co. Kerry Gaeltacht, songs in the Irish language are a natural part of Dennehy's repetoire. Old Boots and Flying Sandals includes two Dennehy originals ('Sceilig Mhichíl' and 'Scarúint'), a simple ancient Irish prayer (An Nollaig Theas) and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill's poem Leaba Shíoda (Labasheedy/The Silken Bed), which opens the album in fine style.
For those unfamiliar with the Irish language, an accompanying booklet helpfully includes translations of all the songs and poems written and performed in Irish.
An exceptionally beautiful and moving album. Highly recommended. David Granville
Copperplate comes through again. The most reliable company in the world for Irish music quality is located in London. Under the directorship of Alan O'Leary, like Clo Iar-Chonnachta, Copperplate means quality. If it ain't, O'Leary doesn't handle them. So, here comes Tim Dennehy. "Old Boots and Flying Sandals" is the name of this stunner. On Sceilig Records, Tim Dennehy gives his latest take on the music with his incredible voice. There is nothing harder to review than a vocal album. How do you describe someone's voice? It is either pleasing or not pleasing to each individual listener. But, there are these artists like Dennehy. OK. OK. He masters a song. Great phrasing. Nuance. He takes his time. You know the deal. "Master at work". Yup. That good. It is hard for us to imagine you not loving his voice. Like the legendary Sean Tyrrell, Dennehy is not afraid to be lushly romantic, and to lose himself in a song. It is harder for male artists to do this, for some reason. But, the best do. And, so does Dennehy. This is a gorgeous album from a talented, gifted singer who "gets it". You should get it, too. Rating: Strongly Recommended. Bill Margeson
The Irish Times
Contemplative and unhurried, Tim Dennehy trades in silence as much as he does music and words, wearing his south Kerry inheritance of traditional song lightly. Forensically researched and beautifully produced, this gathering of songs and poems old and new sheds a gracious light on a singer with a keen ear for the subtle touch, the haunting note and the well- chosen word. This fine collection scales glorious heights on To Jane, an adaptation of Shelley's ode to his paramour, Jane Williams. Although at times weighed down by the unrelenting gravity of the repertoire, Old Boots is still a formidable calling card, bolstered by Áine Derrane's judicious harmonies. SIOBHÁN LONG * * *