Irish FIddle - Nov28, 2020
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s name is synonymous with what’s good in the music and culture of her native County Donegal, Ireland. Born in the Gaeltacht area of Gaoth Dobhair, where Gaeilge was her main language, she learned her songs and tunes from her family and neighbours.
Mairéad's father, Francie Mooney was a noted fiddler, song writer and school teacher and was her first main influence. Her mother, Kitty Rua (Red haired) was also raised in a musical house that held frequent house dances. It is no surprise, therefore, that both Mairéad and her siblings; Gearóid and Anna all play music together and lately released a new album, ‘Na Mooneys’;
In the early eighties, Mairéad qualified as a Primary school teacher and taught in Saint Oliver Plunkett’s P.S. in Malahide, Co. Dublin. She and her late husband recorded Ceol Aduaidh (Music from the North) for Irish label Gael Linn in 1983. This timeless recording was the genesis of what would later become Altan.
Mairéad Ní Mhaonigh’s teaching career came to a halt after she and her late husband Frankie Kennedy took a career break in 1987 and formed Altan. The band went on to become one of the most acclaimed Irish traditional bands touring the world. They recorded for Green Linnet in the USA and toured North America extensively.
Altan have travelled all over the world headlining shows from Tokyo, the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood Bowl to the National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, along with fronting Altan, has remained close her roots between touring and returns to the ‘source’ to her native Donegal to play, sing and teach her music to a new generation.
She helped set up Cairdeas na bhFidléirí (The Fellowship / Friendship of Fiddlers) in the early eighties to promote and preserve the fiddle music of Co. Donegal.
Born in Manchester, England, into a very musical family to parents from Co.Galway and Co.Cavan, Colin started playing the fiddle and tinwhistle from an early age and won numerous titles at the Fleadh Cheoil. He began playing with St. Malachy’s Ceili Band when he was 12 years old, and was a founding member of the band Ceile, with whom he recorded the album Mancunian Way. Since then, he has made a name for himself performing and recording with an array of great musicians in Europe and the US, including such groups as Flook, Grada, Karen Casey, John Doyle, Tim O’Brien, The Elders, Julie Fowlis, The Michael McGoldrick Band and is currently playing with the band Lúnasa. Colin has also played and recorded with numerous dance shows such as Spirit of Ireland, Dance of Desire and Magical Rhythms of Ireland. Colin is also a composer whose tunes have been played and recorded by numerous bands and musicians. In 2005, Colin was awarded a Masters Degree in Music from Limerick University. Living in Florida since 2005, when not touring Colin has been teaching at schools and various camps around the US and Europe. Colin’s 2010 solo debut album ‘On The Move’ was named one of the years 10 best albums by The Irish Echo and his second album ‘Make A Note’ released in 2015 was awarded Instrumental Album of the year by liveIreland.
Tara, a multi-instrumentalist from Co. Clare, has achieved All-Ireland titles on fiddle in every age category including the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Title and is an All-Ireland winner on the flute and saxophone. Tara has won 11 solo All Ireland Fleadh titles and 10 group All Ireland Fleadh titles. Tara won the coveted ‘Fiddler of Dooney’ competition and the prestigious ‘Michael Coleman Fiddle Competition’ and the senior Oireachtas fiddle title. She was selected by Donal Lunny for the T.V. series, Lorg Lunny, which culminated in the band Ciorras, and went on to join the Galician piper Carlos Núñez. In 2014, Tara joined The Chieftains for their North American tour. She achieved her Dip. ABRSM in 2007 in classical flute, graduated in 2011 with a BA(Hons) in Music and Arts, and in 2012 a B Mus. Degree.