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Traditional Irish Tin Whistle Music from County Clare

The Irish Post 14.10.05

"On this beautifully spaced recording the humble tin whistle in the hands of this master musician becomes a wonderful instrument", Joe Mullarkey

Musical Traditions:

"with absolutely no accompaniment, it's as close as you'll get to the pure drop. An essential addition to any collection". Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker

Bríd O'Donoghue has long been recognised as one of Ireland's finest whistle players, though she herself is very modest about her musical ability and has never sought the limelight. Paddy Canny, a wonderful fiddle player from East Clare considers Bríd the finest traditional whistle player he has heard. The music on the CD was selected for it's associations with the people Bríd learned from, in that sense it's a very personal recording, here she plays the tunes learned when growing up. It is often said Irish traditional music is the music of people and places. If ever there was a CD that reflected that, this is the one.

The Copperplate:

Mount Phoebus Hunt:

Miss McDonald's:

  1. Reels: The Green Groves of Erin / The Copperplate
  2. Jigs: Castlebar Races / Paddy Clancy's / Tony Molloy's
  3. Hornpipes: Scully Casey's / Dunphy's Hornpipe
  4. Reels: Over the Moor to Maggie / The Steam Packet
  5. Slow Air: Caoineadh an Spailpín
  6. Slip Jigs: O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick / Na Ceannabháin Bhána
  7. Reels: The Humours of Lissadel / The Reel of Mullinavat
  8. Jigs: Banish Misfortune / The Planting Stick
  9. Slow Air & Set Dance: The Bold Trainer O / Mount Phoebus Hunt
  10. Reels: Miss McDonald's / The Cornstack
  11. Jigs: The Humours of Ballyloughlin / Brother Gildas
  12. Reels: McDermott's / O'Dwyer's
  13. Slow Air: Amhrán na Leabhar
  14. Slip Jigs: Give us a Drink of Water / Hardiman the Fiddler / The Kid on the Mountain
  15. Reels: Ambrose Maloney's / The Concert Reel

Press Reviews

Folk World 32 ON LINE FOLK MAGAZINE

The Tin Whistle, for many kids the first step into music, for some a life-long passion. They don't get tired to improve on this little, unremarkable instrument. But whoever it is that says unremarkable never really listened to the whistle in the hands of an expert player.

Miltown Malbay in County Clare is Willie Clancy country. Bríd O'Donohue grew up with the music of this influential uilleann piper. Also the likes of Junior Crehan (-> FW#21, FW#30), Bobby Casey and Paddy Canny were still around her. This tin whistle solo recording presents a fine whistle player but well hidden in the west of Ireland, though Bríd is said to be central to most of the musical activities in the Miltown Malbay area. So there is more than a slight chance to catch her in full breath when visiting the place. By the way, the booklet includes notes about the tunes and some photographs celebrating the rich heritage of Clare. Walkin' T:-)M

www.LiveIreland.com & The Chicago Irish American Newspaper

This woman is one of the truly great tin whistle players in the world. From Clare, she is a wonder. This album is for the purists among us. All whistle. All solo. Lovely. The album has been out for a while. Never mind. If you are a student of the instrument, this would be a "must have".

Best to get it through Alan O'Leary at Copperplate Music out of London. Copperplate is the gold standard for the type of company that cares about the music, and getting it into your hands. A terrific and reliable distributor. Bill Margeson. Rating: Four Harps

The Irish Echo/ CEOL Column By Earle Hitchner

Best Irish Traditional Albums of 2005

Shortly after coming to the Irish Echo in 1991, I decided to compile an annual top 20 list of Irish traditional recordings that would stubbornly resist the trend to place albums in several, often arbitrary categories. I felt then, as I do now, that such category-crammed lists were thinly veiled attempts to pacify as many musicians, publicists, and record labels as possible by spreading acclaim like cheap margarine.

Critics, if they really are critics, should have the courage of their convictions and rank the recordings, no matter how difficult the process and unwieldy the challenge. To me, it's a matter of put up or shut up, and each year I choose to put up for "Ceol" readers.

Every one of these standout albums from 2005, unflinchingly ranked 1 to 10, belongs in your listening library.

(19) "Tobar an Duchais," by Brid O'Donohue (self-issued, BOD001):

It takes a little daring to record an entire album of tin whistle playing with no accompaniment, but Miltown Malbay resident Brid O'Donohue has made a wise decision. Her playing displays an unrushed tempo and creates an inviting, personalized ethos best-served by strict soloing. The CD title reflects her pedagogical impulse: it means "The Well of Learning." Any student of the Irish tin whistle would be smart to draw from this deep well of music by West Clare's O'Donohue.

[Published on January 25, 2006, in the IRISH ECHO newspaper, New York City. Copyright (c) Earle Hitchner. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of author.]

TAPLAS The Welsh Folk Magazine Adolygiadau o Reviews

STEEPED in the Clare tradition, Brid O'Donohue is a long time tutor at the Willie Clancy summer school and in other contexts, and a familiar of the Clancy/Crehan/Casey generation and milieu, from which she learnt much of her repertory. Her playing is clean, flowing and mellow. Her tempi are steady and her phrasing and rhythm are superb; there is little tonguing and only subtle variation on repeats, whilst her ornamentation is full but not flashy or excessive, though she eschews the cran.

The album is entirely of solo whistle and I am not sure, despite the exemplary playing and my own special interest, that I really enjoy listening to it at a sitting. Three or four tracks at a time are enough.

The insert notes are meticulous and scholarly, detailing tune sources. This is a fine resource for a learner, both technically and stylistically and gives model interpretations of many well-known tunes, unsurprisingly given her pedigree as a teacher.

This album is of general interest to any avid collector of Irish music and are very recommendable to the whistle specialist or learner.

Jem Hammond

The Living Tradition Jan/Feb 06

Give an expert player a melody instrument and let them go, and you end up with something like this. Whistle and flutes have a propensity to be able to carry an album by themselves, driving tunes along with jollity, or sadness, but always with panache.

It helps, of course, when they are in the hands of an expert,and Brid O'Donoghue is certainly that; an unsung relative of Willie Clancy and many other traditional musicians. There's jigs, like 'Banish Misfortune, reels, like The Green Groves of Erin', hornpipes , slip jigs - 'Hardiman the Fiddler and The Kid on the Mountain' and some plaintive airs.

Fifteen tracks, but many more tunes as she slides and jumps through her arrangements.

It is no mean feat to carry off an album with no supporting musicians, just a series of tin whistles in different keys but Brid does it with ease and power.

This set includes a sixteen page bilingual booklet explaining the origins of the tunes and containing some nice photographs of Brid and family. The record company reckon it's understated. As music it is as understated as punk, and deserves to be played as loud. Play it loud in your car and drown out those whose driving musical tastes are less intelligent. Bob Harragan

Irish Music Magazine 11.05

When I visited him in Armagh City many years ago, Sean O'Boyle, the song collector and music scholar told me about the old man who described himself as a singer of "the raw bar", which, as I recall, Sean explained as meaning that he sang just plain and simple, and unaccompanied.

And that just about describes what we get in this new CD from the renowned Clare tin whistle player, Bnd O'Donohoe, 15 tracks of dance tunes and a few slow airs of tin whistle playing with no accompaniment lasting just over three-quarters of an hour.

In the copious notes that accompany the CD, Muiris O'Rochain, Director of the Willie Clancy Summer School, says that Paddy Canny, the great Clare fiddle player, considers Brid as the finest whistle player he has ever heard.

The CD notes are replete with information on the tunes and there are many photographs of the family album sort that add greatly to the appeal of this production. Any musician who wants useful details on tunes like The Green Groves Erin, The Copperplate, Over the Moor to Maggie, The Steam Packet, etc., etc., will find that Brid's personal notes and references to written sources, provide a treasure trove of information in the accompanying booklet.

Muiris also points out that that Brid had the good fortune to be born into a rich musical community. "Many of her near neighbours and immediate family were all brilliant musicians and those include her uncle J. C. Talty, Bobby Casey, Thady Casey, Junior Crehan, John Fennell, Joe Cuneen, Michael Falsey, and Paddy Galvin." He adds that she was regular visitor to the Willie Clancy household being related through marriage to Willie.

Brid has won several awards for her whistle playing, including the Gradam (a gold medal) in the Slogadh championship and presented to her by none other than Seamus Ennis, as the finest traditional whistle player in any age group at the All-Ireland Slogadh. Most of the many fine traditional musicians in the area have been taught by Brid, Muiris tells us, and she has taught at the Willie Clancy School almost from the outset over thirty years ago. "This unique solo recording will make Brid deservedly known to a larger audience," Muiris says, "and give further testimony of the rich musical heritage of West Clare." Aidan O'Hara

The Irish Post 14.10.05

Brid O'Donoghue has long been recognised as one of Ireland's finest whistle players, having had the good fortune to be born into a very rich musical community.

Many of her near-neighbours and immediate family were all brilliant musicians including her uncle J.C. Talty, Bobby Casey, Thady Casey, Junior Crehan, John Fennell, Joe Cuneen, Michael Falsey and Paddy Galvin. She was a regular visitor to the Willie Clancy household and he recognised her musical ability and gave her much of her early tuition and encouragement.

This unique solo recording will make Brid deservedly known to a larger audience and give further testimony of the rich musical heritage of her native West Clare. It will be of interest to lovers of music everywhere and is a worthy tribute to a very brilliant and gifted musician.

It is a tribute to all involved and gives a portrait of a unique musician playing the music of her own rich heritage.

The music on this 15-track album was selected for its associations with the people Brid learned from, making it a very personal recording. It is often said Irish traditional music is the music of people and places. If ever there was an album that reflected that, this is the one.

On this beautifully spaced recording the humble tin whistle in the hands of this master musician becomes a wonderful instrument, which can produce music of the highest calibre. Uncluttered and unencumbered by any accompaniment, the artistry of the musician and the beauty of the music are allowed free rein and will have pride of place in many traditional fans music collection. Joe Mullarkey

New brilliant solo whistle CD by Bríd O Donohue * * * * * 28 Jun 2005

This is the sort of CD I cherish, pure traditional, unaccompanied whistleplaying by one of the finest whistle players in Ireland. Right from the opening track, a lovely lively version of the Green Groves of Erin followed by the Copperplate to final offering of reels : Ambrose Moloney's and The Concert reel this is a recording of pure joy.

Bríd draws from the well of her heritage (the Tobar an Dúchais of the title) to play West Clare whistle music at it very best. Here we hear echos of the ever lively dance music and the air playing of Willie Clancy (a relation who gave Brid many tips at a young age) and the exquisite whistle and fluteplaying of Brid's uncle JC Talty and many other greats from the West Clare tradition.

Included are Jigs Reels, hornpipes, a number of great airs, slip jigs and the great set dance Mount Phoebus Hunt (and Bloomfield's favourites: The Humours of Lissadel and the Reel of Mullinavat are included). Whistles played are D (Sindt), a Generation Eflat, C, an O'Briain improved e flat and a B Susato (all pictured on the cover by the way).

The music on the CD was selected for it's associations with the people Brid learned from, in that sense it's a very personal recording, here she plays the tunes learned when growing up. It is often said Irish traditional music is the music of people and places. If ever there was a CD that reflected that, this is the one.

From a very early age Brid has been one of the primary whistleteachers at the Willie Clancy Summerschool passing on the music she was given. Throughout the year she runs music classes for local children. SHe has a great way of handing on the tunes and she manages to pass on her wonderful rich ornamentation and sheer joy of playing to all her pupils. One of the great joys at the christmas concert she usually stages for her pupils was the band of 13-16 year olds. The band had all the lift of the old ceilibands and a wonderful strong flute section that reminded me of the sound of the Ballinakil. It was a real testament to her ability to hand on her music.

The CD cover has extensive notes and a large number of photographs, from old shots from the family album of whistle and fluteplayers like JC Talty and Michael Falsey and an especially lovely one of Willie Clancy playing the flute, through to images of Brid playing at very tender age, a nice shot by Liam Mcnulty of herself and Mary Bergin playing a duet at the Willie week somewhere during the mid-seventies and from there on right through to the present day (I can't say much about those )

To surmise, this is a classic whistle album that in my mind has a place right next to the Moloney/Potts album and the Feadiga Stan. If you only buy one whistle CD this year, believe me this should be the one.

The CD is due to be launched during the Willie Clancy Summer School and will be available from the first of July. Brid's website will go up shortly at www.bridodonohue.comA little biography.

Bríd was born in Caherush, midway between Quilty and Miltown Malbay. She started playing the tin whistle at the age of six at Annagh National School where her school teacher was Tessie Walsh, sister-in-law of Junior Crehan. Her music was very much influenced by her uncle J.C. Talty and Willie Clancy. She grew up playing with and absorbing from the music of J.C. and Willie. Her love of whistle playing is as a result of this. Willie Clancy gave her much encouragement to continue playing the tin whistle. She remembers how Willie always made the time to to sit down and play with her during her visit to his house. He gave her much instruction on tunes and ornamentation at a very early age.

Bríd starting playing flute at the age of eighteen and enjoys playing the flute at sessions and céilís. She has a great love of the Irish Language and and Irish Culture.

Early accomplishments.

Bríd has been awarded many prizes at national level in Slógadh, Fleadh Cheoil na héireann and Pan Celtic Festival. The highlight of these being when Séamus Ennis awarded her the Gradam as the finest traditional tinwhistle player in any age group at All-Ireland Slógadh in 1978.

The music continues

Bríd has been teaching tin whistle at The Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay almost from the outset. She has enjoyed seeing the school going from strength to strength over the years. She enjoys teaching students from all over the world and considers it "the highlight of her year" to teach at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

The music continues ...at home in the O'Brien Family

Bríd's love of music has been passed on to her five children, they all play tin whistle and piano as well as other instruments. Seán plays flute; Eibhlís, pipes; Deirdre, harp; Liam, concertina, and Sinéad fiddle. They enjoy playing together and perform regularly at concerts, weddings, and other functions & occassions.

Tobar an Dúchais: by Muiris O Rócháin

"Bríd O'Donoghue has long been recognised as one of Ireland's finest whistle players. She herself is very modest about her musical ability and has never sought the limelight. Paddy Canny, a wonderful fiddle player from East Clare considers Bríd the finest traditional whistle player he has heard. She had the good fortune to be born into a very rich musical community. Many of her near neighbours and immediate family were all brilliant musicians and those include her uncle J.C. Talty, Bobby Casey, Thady Casey, Junior Crehan, John Fennell, Joe Cuneen, Michael Falsey and Paddy Galvin. She was a regular visitor to the Willie Clancy household being related through marriage to Willie. Willie recognised her musical ability and gave her much of her earlier tuition and encouragement to continue playing.

Bríd has been central to most of the musical activities in the Miltown Malbay area. She has taught in the Willie Clancy School almost from the outset and runs a very successful traditional music school all through the winter in the Miltown Malbay area. Most of the many fine traditional musicians in the area have been taught by Bríd. In 2004 she presented a series of radio programmes in Irish entitled "Fonn na Seachtaine" and was awarded first prize in a National Radio Competition as a result. She represented Ireland internationally as a musical ambassador in places as diverse as Italy to Cape Breton in Canada.

This unique solo recording will make Bríd deservedly known to a larger audience and give further testimony of the rich musical heritage of her native West Clare. It will be of interest to lovers of music everywhere and is a worthy tribute to a very brilliant and gifted musician. It is a tribute to all involved and gives a portrait of a unique musician playing the music of her own rich heritage", Muiris O Rócháin

A visit to Brid's web site is highly recommended, lots of great photographs of local musicians and friends. www.bridodonohue.com

Price: £13.99

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