Own Label FID002CD

The Donegal duo of Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Aidan O'Donnell has become a fiddle trio with the addition of Damien McGeehan, which is why album number two is called 3. How Irish is that? Unashamed Donegal character is a large part of the charm of this music - eccentric phrasing from the great John Doherty, local nicknames for tunes associated with players such as Hudí Gallagher or Francie Dearg Ó Beirne, and the very idea of three-part impromptu fiddle harmonies as a manifestation of traditional music. In fact, the fiddling here is so sweet and assured that you hardly notice the absence of other instruments, and the Donegal tradition has many ways of varying the sound of the fiddle: octave harmonies, drones, double stopping, percussive bowing, everything short of sfortzando.

There's variety in the tunes here too. Plenty of Donegal reels, of course, but also the germans, highlands and airs adopted from other traditions by Donegal fiddlers. Hector the Hero, written by Scott Skinner to mark the death of Ross-shire soldier Hector MacDonald, was popularised by Tommy Peoples and The Bothy Band among others. Skinner's composition Le Messe is less often heard, and the triple violin version here is a rare treat. A set of four highlands includes some popular Scottish tunes, back to front of course, and the fine Bluestack Highland. There are hornpipes and marches too, jigs and waltzes, and even a new take on the descriptive Fox Hunt. In this version it's a hare they're after, and the three fiddles run her down in fine style, but she takes longer to die than many a Hollywood heroine! Be that as it may, the quality on this recording lasts right to the end with a great set of reels culminating in Dinkie's followed by the stately pairing of McConnell's Barndance and Francie Mooney's German. Grand old music well played: may tell you more, but this CD should be widely distributed.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.