New CD breathes life into ancient Irish poetry

Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhr’de

Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhr’de

A GAOTH Dobhair sean nós singer has launched a new CD of his own compositions to ancient and forgotten Gaelic poetry.

Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde unveiled ‘Sona do Cheird’ to the Irish language community at the Oireachtas in Dublin last weekend.


The highly regarded singer will, however, have the Donegal launch in Teach Hiúdaí Beag, Bunbeg, on Saturday at 8pm.

Several years in the making, Doimnic sings the lyrics of long lost Gaelic songs to his own compositions and arrangements.

A new departure, coming four years after his last recording, the album has 13 tracks in total. Nine are taken from the book ‘Dhá chéad de cheolta Uladh’ by song collector Énrí Ó Muirgheasa, which was published in 1934, and one song is by newly composed by Scottish poet, Niall O’Gallagher. To these,

Doimnic has composed and arranged the melodies, but with a unique edge. The accompaniment of pedal steel guitar, clarinet and bass, in addition to Doimnic’s own contribution of piano accordion, pipes and harmonium. Two songs are traditional, again arranged by Doimnic, and he sings two unaccompanied seán nos pieces.

Doimnic is highly-regarded in the traditional singing circle. Winner of the prestigious Corn Uí Riada in 2009, he has since released four highly commended CDs to date: Saol na Suáilce; Siansaí; Guaillimh a’ chéile with Scottish musician and singer Griogair Labhruidh; Smúidghealach and has also published a book and CD for children Ící Pící. He has also toured extensively in Ireland, UK and the USA.
But Sona do Cheird is different.

“This album is the culmination of a search for lyrics of old songs where the melodies have been lost and an attempt to bring them back to life. These words are too precious to stay on the pages of a book,” Doimnic says.

He breathes life into words that have been forgotten, where melodies have been lost through the passing of time. His compositions are constructed in the old modal Gaelic style, something which he studied at college as part of research into Gaelic song. This album demonstrates his talents in composition and arrangement, bound together by his voice. Both compelling and acutely moving, Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde exposes here raw beauty of tone, musicality and feeling in his singing.


“Sona do Cheird can be translated as ‘happiness in your trade’,” he adds.
“I chose this as the title because singing is my trade, my craft. I chose these songs simply because they are good songs. They are well written, and have good rhythm in the poetry. They flow and were easy to compose melodies around. My favourite is Beatha Úr. It’s new but it just fits the tradition – in its structure and mode.”

The promotion of the sean nós tradition is Doimnic’s greatest motivation and this CD places him at the forefront of his native tradition.
The launch starts at 8pm. Doimnic will perform with local musicians Declan MacLaifeartaigh and Sarah Cullen and the CD will be officially launched by Dr Art Hughes, Reader in Irish at Ulster University. The event is free, and all are welcome.

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