This Just In: Altan’s New CD, Donegal, a Winner

Edited by John O’Brien 

For the past 35 years, Altan has  been bringing the music of their native County Donegal to the world stage. Irish-language songs and dynamic twin-fiddling, the hallmarks of Altan’s sound, framework the band’s newest album, aptly titled Donegal.

The album’s 10 tracks pay homage to Donegal’s rich musical heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. The authenticity and allure of the music transports listeners to a bygone time in rural Ireland while simultaneously forging a connection between the past and modern times.

Bandleader, lead vocalist and fiddler Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh lends her angelic voice to “Liostáil mé le Sáirsint” and “The Barley and the Rye” and contributing “Port Árainn Mhór/Port Kitty Rua Mooney,” an outstanding set of jigs, to the project.

Altan’s newest member, Clare Friel, shares vocal duties with Ní Mhaonaigh, most notably on the track “Faoiseamh a Geheobhadsa” and adds her fiery twin fiddle playing to great effect.

Accordionist Martin Tourish brings his formidable chops and compositional sense to the medley “The House of Baoithín” which pays homage to the mid 6th century Saint Baoithín.

Dáithí Sproule (guitar), Mark Kelly (guitar, harmony vocals) and Ciarán Curran (bouzouki, mandolin) round out the band, which is augmented by special guests Jim Higgins (percussion), Steve Cooney (bass) and Graham Henderson (keyboards) on select tracks.

Donegal captures the essence of the region, which has inspired Altan since the band’s inception and further cements Altan’s legacy as one of the great cultural treasures of Ireland.

Altan was formed in County Donegal in 1987 by lead vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and her late husband Frankie Kennedy.  Over the course of their career, Altan has sold over a million records.

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