Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt

Streaming Tradition

Listening Post 216. Ireland and Scotland may be separated by the North Channel but they are also linked by a stream of inter-Celtic partnerships, leagues, festivals and initiatives. Allt, a collaborative album by two Celtic music power couples, is a grand example of this movement, a collection of new tunes put to old and new poetry in Irish and Scottish Gaelic—minority languages in their own lands that might have become more endangered if their speakers and especially artists didn’t offer constant mutual encouragement. The creators of this splendid recording are: From Inverness, Julie Fowlis, one of the great voices of Scottish song, and her Irish-born husband Éamon Doorley, master of bouzouki and fiddle; and from County Louth, Irish fiddle and classical violin virtuoso Zoë Conway and husband John Mc Intyre, a renowned traditional guitarist. Primary talents aside, this is a renaissance album on which everyone reaches higher, all composing, all singing, all bestowing added value on songs of cheer and woe, sometimes intertwined—as in Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa (I Will Find Solace), with the reassuring phrase “among my people” that may stand for family or community (video 1). Mourning connects the Celtic realms in Piuthrag Nam Piuth’r (Sister, My Sister), bearing cruel tidings from Ireland to Scotland (video 2). The pace quickens delightfully in the medley Na Hù Bhithinn/Hò Rò Na Priobaidean (I Would Be…/The Trifling Things), about a girl who runs off with a soldier and some frivolous gifts that may have larger meaning based on their provenance (video 3). Joy almost aches in the a cappella An tEarrach Thiar (Spring in the West, video 4), bulging with the season’s sounds, sights and sensations. Spring is also an apt symbol for the new season of Scottish Gaelic and Irish, with the artists of Allt and kindred projects nourishing the currents of linguistic tides. (Machair Records)

Allt (in Scottish Gaelic, “stream”)
Julie Fowlis : Vocals, whistles
Éamon Doorley: Bouzouki, vocals, fiddle
Zoë Conway: Fiddle, whistle, vocals
John Mc Intyre: Guitar, piano, vocals

Note: For the review of Julie Fowlis’ most recent solo album, Alterum, see Listening Post 147, April 24, 2018.
https://worldlisteningpost.com/2018/04/24/julie-fowlis-alterum/

 

Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa/I Will Find Solace
(Máirtín Ó Direáin, Julie Fowlis)

(from the lyrics in Irish and Scottish Gaelic)
I will find solace/
A short while
Amongst my people
/On a sea island
Walking the stone beach/Morning and evening
From Monday to Saturday/In the west at home

I will find solace/
A short while
Amongst my people/From heart sorrow
From mind worry/From joyless loneliness
From hurtful talk/In the west at home

 

Piuthrag Nam Piuth’r/Sister, My Sister
(Julie Fowlis)

(from the Scottish Gaelic lyrics)
Sister, my sister, are you asleep
Ill-i-rinn is hò-rò/
Ill-i-rinn is hò-rò
Our brother who was in Ireland
Hi-ibh-òho-hi/Na-hi ùraibh ò-ro-hi.

Our brother who was in Ireland/He was yesterday laid on the boards
He was yesterday laid on the boards/I was there but no one knew

I was there but no one knew/A while on the ground and a while by horse away from me
A while on the ground and a while by horse away from me/
A while again wrapped in the shroud.

 

Na Hù Bhithinn, Hè Bhithinn/Na Hù Hè I Would Be
(Julie Fowlis)

(from the Scottish Gaelic lyrics)
Na hù, hè I would be/
Hù I would be desirous:
The place where I’d be is what I would choose/
The place where I’d be willing.

Wee Anne, daughter of Murdo/She was thought to be misguided
She took off and left/
With a young soldier boy

Hò Rò, Na Priobaidean/Hò Rò The Trifling Things
(Julie Fowlis)

(from the Scottish Gaelic lyrics)
Hò rò the trifling things/
Those and ribbons
Hò rò the trifling things/
That the red-haired boy gave me.

The trifling things, the trifling things/Those and ribbons
The trifling things, the trifling things/That the red-haired boy gave me.

 

An tEarrach Thiar/Spring in the West
(Máirtín Ó Direáin, Zoë Conway)

(from the Irish lyrics)
A man scraping clay
/
From the tread of a spade
In the peace and calm/
Of a warm day
Sweet the sound/
Of springtime in the west

A man slinging/
A creel from his back
And the red mayweed/Glistening
In a ray of sunlight/
On a white stony beach
A shimmering vision/
Of springtime in the west

Women standing/
Their coats tucked up
The ebb-tide pools/
Like mirrors beneath them
A dreamy sight/Springtime in the west

The hollow beat/
Of oar strokes
A currach full of fish/Coming in to shore
On a slow, gold sea/When day is done
Springtime in the west

 


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