Rachel Newton – “One Hour More”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d really like to share with you this beautiful, melancholic piece from Scottish. Harpist and folk singer Rachel Newton. This is her original composition, from her 2016 album Here’s My heart, Come Take it. 

Llio Rhydderch – “Melangell”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this beautiful and delightfully long piece played by Llio Rhydderch, the Welsh triple harp player whose music I really love and have shared on here many times. This is the title track from her album Melangell. Melangell is a Welsh feminine name said to originate from the Welsh words mêl meaning honey, and angell meaning angel. It’s the name of a Welsh early saint who is considered a patron saint of little creatures and whose feast day is on 27 May, her name can be also latinised as Monacella. I’ve actually once shared a song about her sung by Plu

Gwen Màiri – “Y Dydd Drwy’r Ffenest” (The Day Through the Window”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I want to share with you a beautiful piece from Gwen Màiri’s album Mentro (Venture), an amazing album from which I’ve already shared several tracks in the past. In case you don’t know, Gwen Màiri Yorke is a harpist and folk singer of both Scottish and Welsh heritage, who is both a Scottish Gaelic as well as Welsh native speaker. On this album, she is accompanied by Jordan Price Williams on cello, as well as Gwilym Bowen Rhys on several instruments, but in this particular piece we can hear him playing the mandolin. As far as I’m aware, this tune is Gwen’s original composition. 

Sally Fletcher – “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to introduce you to another interesting harpist, who as far as I’m aware belongs more to what I call «relaxing harpist» camp, rather than folk or classical or something like that. Sally is also an organist, pianist and teacher. Still, the tune played by her that I want to share with you today is definitely a contemporary folk one. It is an Irish-American song that was written by James Roys Shannon and first performed by Chauncey Olcott, and later popularised again by Bing Crosby. 

Aine Minogue – “Dark Island”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this pensive and relaxing piece by one of my favourite harpists – Aine Minogue – which she recorded together with other instrumentalists that she collaborates with. For those who are new to Aine’s music, she is an Irish Celtic harpist as well as singer and composer who was born in county Tipperary but currently resides in Boston. 

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Y Ddeilen Dobaco” (The Tobacco Leaf).

   Hey people! 🙂 

    I thought I’d really like to share with you something from Gwilym’s latest  album, the second one in the Detholiad o Hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads) series, because so far I guess I’ve only shared one song from it on here, and it’s a really good album as I’ve already said so deserves some more attention on here. So I chose for today an interesting song from 19th century, in which the lyrical subject ponders on the transience and fragility of our earthly lives while smoking a pipe. It was written by poet Ebenezer Thomas, known under his bardic name of Eben Fardd (Bard Eben), and set to a traditional tune. The translation below comes from Gwilym’s website

  The tobacco leaf comes from afar,
be it good or ill to those who take it,
in the morning it is full of colour,
but in the afternoon it withers
and this shows us all
that we are not going to last here very long,
that we’re only people in clay pipes,
that’s what I think whilst smoking it

The white clay pipe, the colour of pure fine snow
that shines so bright as I see it.
when this falls, it quickly breaks,
and is cast away without a second thought,
and that’s how we are, though so bright at our dawn,
and all the good intentions we might have -
only a small strike will leave us broken on the floor,
I think all the while whilst smoking it.

The pipe, when used, obtains a bad colour,
the ash and the smoke blackens it.
to get it clean again,
one must put it in the fire to re-purify it.
and so are we with our black, cruel sins,
full of uncleanliness, inside and out,
until we are re-purified through spirit and grace,
I rightly think as I smoke it.

The sparks ascend to the heavens
to seek the element that’s there
and likewise the smoke rises,
we can clearly see it climbing.
and this clearly shows us all the while
that were are all but travellers, the wisest in the world -
let’s not place our desires in material things,
I always think whilst smoking it.

The ash and dottle stay on behind,
in a way that is to be remembered -
from the soil we came, loud is our noise,
to the soil we shall return again.
the earth to the earth, we’ll return on our way,
the ash to the ash, and the body like it was before.
our life disappears like smoke in the wind
I carry on thinking whilst smoking it.


Diana Rowan – “The Celtic Sonata: “The Star of Munster/Cremonea/Glenlivet”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you this lovely harp piece called The Celtic Sonata, as it consists of three movements, each of them being a traditional Celtic tune. The first one is a reel called The Star of Munster. The second – Cremonea, also known as Cremonia, which is the anglicised spelling of its Irish title Croí Muimhneach (Munster Heart) – is a tune composed by the blind Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan. The third one is called Glenlivet, and I’ve already shared a different version of it in the past, played by Kim Robertson

   Diana Rowan is a Celtic harpist and pianist from Dublin, but currently lives in the US, although she also travels a lot as she does a lot of concerts and gives lectures. 

Celtic Woman – “Wild Mountain Thyme”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you a song by the amazing supergroup Celtic Woman, which is an all-female folk band created and led by David Downes. I really like their music, and listened to them particularly much as a teenager when I was still rather new to the world of Celtic and folk music in general. This song comes from their latest album from last year called Postcards From Ireland, and the soloist here is Chloe Agnew, who is I believe one of the more recognisable and liked members of this group of all time, as she has been with Celtic Woman on and off since her teenage years. You can learn more about the song reading my earlier post where I shared a version of it sung by Órla Fallon, who, as it happens, was also part of Celtic Woman in the past. 

Paul Dooley – “Port an Deorai/An Phis Fluich”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you a medley of two traditional Irish tunes, both of which are slip jigs, played by Paul Dooley. Paul Dooley is a harpist and harp builder from county Clare, and he plays the harp like it used to be played historically, with the nice-sounding metal strings that make it sound less ethereal than what we are used to with the more modern Celtic harps and what most people associate with a harp, and they are plucked with long fingernails rather than fingers. 

   The first of those two slip jigs is called Port an Deorai, which seems to be more popularly known as The Exile’s, although like a lot of Celtic folk tunes it has been played and recorded under lots and lots of different names. Deora does mean exile (as in an exiled person) in Irish, and port means tune or jig so I guess it does literally mean something like The Exile’s Tune. But the second tune has even more titles under which it’s known, and its main title is quite odd. When I googled it, it says everywhere that while in English it is usually known as The Wife of Choice or O’Farrel’s Welcome to Limerick, the Irish name is said to be rather naughty and mean the Wet C**t. Indeed, the word fliuch (of which fluich is perhaps some regional variation or something) does mean wet according to my dictionary. But then it says that phis means pea, not c**t, and c**t is pit in Irish. Perhaps there are several words for that though, and maybe phis is a more colloquial, sort of idiomatic one? Whether it’s wet c**t or wet pea, it makes for a peculiar and eye-catching song title. 

Jackie Oates – “Dream Angus”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Last night I couldn’t fall asleep till like 3 AM or so, and one of the songs that played on my Spotify was this one. I’ve always really liked it, because I generally really like Jackie Oates’ music – she’s been one of the first English folk singers that I started listening to when introducing myself to English folk and not just Irish and Scottish – and because I love lullabies and anything to do with dreams and folklore, but also because this song and especially its chorus reminds me so much of Emily of New Moon, and specifically her first novel A Seller of Dreams. I can’t think of this song without thinking of Emily and her novel, and I can’t think of Emily and her novel without hearing this tune in my brain. But yesterday, as I couldn’t sleep and heard this song, I thought how I’d really, seriously appreciate it if Angus was actually a thing. As you may know, practically the whole summer was really difficult for me sleep- and anxiety-wise, with loads of crappy sleep paralysis and scary dreams and stuff like that. So I thought how comforting it would be if you could just buy yourself a dream or two or five for the night ahead, so that you’d know in advance what dreams you’d be having and could fall asleep happily and peacefully. 

   I mentioned to you guys recently how my Mum is possibly getting herself an Apple Watch, and recently when WatchOS 9 came out I looked up its features for her as she was curious. I told her that there is some improvement to how you can track your sleep and she was like: “Oh, cool, it’ll be nice to look back at my dreams”. Obviously she was joking, but I thought that wow, I’d like it if one day we’d be able to do that, if Apple Watch had such a feature it would actually convince me to get it as well. 😀 I’m a very vivid dreamer, but sometimes when you have a lovely dream, the only thing you really remember upon waking is some sort of pleasant emotion, and it would have been nice to just open some app and have a look at what it was exactly what you dreamt about and always have it with you. Or if you wake up with heebiejeebies and don’t know what they’re about, you could also look back and see what the scary thing you dreamt of was and if it feels equally scary while you’re awake or perhaps just totally ridiculous and not worth fretting over. And even if they were scary in the waking world as well, I think that in many situations, looking back through your dream while being able to think rationally and clearly and being more in control of it could be a good way to desensitise yourself to it and make it feel less scary anyway, so it could even be a good therapeutic method perhaps. And so last night when I was listening to Dream Angus, I was suddenly all like: “What if one day we could have a virtual version of Angus?” Like, if you’d have a possibility to look back on your dreams, why not be able to buy dreams somehow, through App Store, Google Play or something? 😀 You’d have like a HUGE collections of dreams to choose from or could even design your very own dreams. I wonder though how these dreams would actually end up in our brains, any ideas, anyone? 

   As for Jackie Oates, I’ve already shared one song by her in the past – The Worthy Wood Carol on Christmas Eve one year – but I don’t think I’d introduced her properly then. Jackie is a singer and fiddle player who was born in Congleton in Cheshire, raised in Staffordshire, and now as far as I’m aware lives in Wallingford in Oxfordshire. This song comes from her 2013 album Lullabies, which s probably my favourite album by her. “Dream Angus” is a traditional Scottish tune, based on the myth of Angus or Aengus, Celtic god of love, dreams and poetic inspiration. Angus was son of Dagda and Boan who could shapeshift, and, just like in this song, he gave lovely, calm dreams to people. He is the equivalent of Mabon from Welsh mythology. In this song we can hear Jackie playing the viola, and she is accompanied by Belinda O’Hooley from O’Hooley and Tidow on piano and by a string section from Iceland. 

Nadia Birkenstock ft. Steve Hubback – “Brian Boru’s March”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you a traditional tune played by the German harpist Nadia Birkenstock whose music I’ve already shared several times on here. This time, she is accompanied by Welsh drummer and percussionist Steve Hubback. In the past I’ve also shared a version of this song performed by Alan Stivel and in that post you can learn more about its origins and who Brian Boru was, more recently I also shared a version by Clannad

Aine Minogue – “Arran Boat Song”.

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this traditional air from the Scottish Highlands, in the beautiful harp arrangement by Aine Minogue. I’ve shared a few pieces by her already and mentioned how I really love her music and how it has helped me through some difficult times. Aine is originally from Ireland but lives in New England and is also a singer. 

Nansi Richards – “Rhydd Ddu” (Black Ford).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   A short folk tune from Nansi Richards – Welsh triple harp and Celtic harpist – today. The name of this piece refers to one of the footpaths on Snowdon which is called Rhydd Ddu. 

Tant – “Byth Eto” (Never Again).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   The song I have for you today comes from a very interesting Welsh all-girls folk group. They mix traditional Welsh folk influences and quite minimalistic, acoustic sound with more modern, pop sensibilities. The results of such mixes in folk music can be of all kinds, but theirs are very good and a little quirky in my opinion. The members of this band live in different bits of North Wales, and they are Angharad, Elliw, Modlen, Non and Siwan, and apart from singing, Angharad and Non are also harpists, Elliw and Modlen are guitarists, and Siwan plays cajun. Some of the songs are written by one of the girls, others are covers, but another person who has written several of their songs is Siwan’s dad – Rhun ap Iorwerth – who is also Deputy Leader of Plaid Cymru – Welsh left-wing nationalist party. – And from what I understand from this song, it does have to do with the independence and freedom of Wales. 

 

Gwenan Gibbard – “Gwcw Fach” (Little Cuckoo).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have for you a little traditional Welsh tune, performed by the singer and harpist Gwenan Gibbard, whose music I’ve shared a lot on here. I found a translation of it, written by Dafydd Iwan. 

   Little cuckoo, aren’t you foolish,
Singing amongst the spiky gorse,
Go to the parish of fair Dolgellau,
You will find there green bushes.
Little cuckoo, fly immediately
To the banks of the Wnion river
On the wing, wait awhile
By the home of my beloved.
Little cuckoo, if you see there
Someone weeping salty tears
Sing to him the song of spring
A song of hope to comfort him.

Clannad – “Gathering Mushrooms”.

   Hi all you people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you another song from Clannad’s album Crann Ull, just like the Irish Gaelic one I shared a couple days ago. This one also features Enya, but this time as supporting vocalist. 

   Fun fact, it’s thanks to this song that I learned that there is/was such a thing as mushroom ketchup. When I first heard it and the bit “I am gathering mushrooms to make my mommy ketchup” it made me laugh ‘cause, like, what’s one thing to do with the other? I even thought I must have misheard/misunderstood something. It actually interested me enough that I decided to find out and I was really surprised, because, well, at least here, mushroom ketchup is certainly not a thing. 

Phamie Gow ft. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – “Sunrise Over Holyrood”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have for you a piece of Scottish music, from the multi-instrumentalist and composer Phamie Gow whose music I’ve shared several times before on here, accompanied by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The Holyrood in the title refers to the area of Edinburgh with this name. 

Clannad – “Ar a Ghabháil ‘n a ‘Chuain Damh” (I Walked Down by the Sea).

   Hey people! 🙂 

    Today I have for you a traditional Irish song performed by Clannad, from the earlier years of their career. In the Wikipedia article about this song it’s translated as As I Went Down to the Harbour, but I decided to go with the title translation provided in the lyrics of the Clannad song for the title of this post. It is very possible that the Wurlitzer is played by Enya, who was still with the band when they were recording Crann Ull – the album from which this song comes – as keyboardist and backing vocalist, although it’s not explicitly stated anywhere that it’s her. The lyrics below come from Celtic Lyrics Corner

   I walked down by the sea
Right wearily
My heart, it was tormented
From a northern sky the small clouds did fly
And sorely I lamented
 
 
I’m sorry now I swear
That I didn’t care
To heed my mother’s caution
She spoke to me fair saying don’t venture there
Don’t go the road to Ballyhaunis
 
 
Yet dearly did I love
My fair-haired girl
In the garden that morning early
Your lips as tender as the foam on the ocean’s rim
And cheeks like red haw-berries
 
 
I put my arm around your waist
But my mind knew no ease
Though the small birds sang so gaily
I wished we were going under white sails blowing
Be it fair or stormy weather
 
 
My own heart’s dear
If you’d come away
To that land of ships from Ireland
There’s no heartache nor there’s no pain
That wouldn’t find a cure for certain
 
 
You are the one I’ve always loved
So save me now from dying
For without God’s grace I’ll never survive
On this street in Ballyhaunis