There’s no doubt Covid has hit musicians hard. Despite being starved of their admiring audiences Donegal traditional musician Paul Harrigan has been using his time for an astonishing creative project.

Multi-instrumentalist, Paul Harrigan is never anything other than musically busy. His output in terms of teaching, performing, documenting, arranging, composing, recording and more would be to most mortals utterly exhausting.

Somehow he managed to fit into that schedule a commission of seven compositions of extended pieces for uilleann pipes and two fiddles in the Donegal idiom.

The commission set out to provide a soundscape to accompany the Seven Waves art installation exhibit of Scottish artists Erlend Brown and Dave Jackson.

The latter is a large scale marriage of literary and visual art based on the work of renowned Scottish poet, George Mackay Brown’s ‘Tryst on Egilsay’.

This derives from the St. Magnus lore of the Orkney Islands. Mackay Brown’s writings recounts the saga of the murder of St. Magnus in seven parts.

The art installation cried out for a suitable soundscape to accompany the exhibition and in a remarkable collaboration with Cairdeas na bhFidileri a composition commission was offered to Paul Harrigan.

The result is a stellar work of seven movements, each directly reflecting the sequence of events in the St. Magnus saga and strongly influenced by the writings of Mackay Brown.

Each of the movements have their own particular feel and can heard to be echoing the words of poet whose poems are beautifully provided in the detailed notes accompanying the CD.

Paul’s playing of both pipes and fiddle demonstrate his masterful command of both instruments. His sister, Roisin’s fiddle playing on tracks 2 and 7 do likewise.

The overall work totalling fifty minutes is stunning in addressing and capturing its objective. ‘The Seven Waves’ CD exceeds being ‘an important work’. It is more than that. In my opinion it stands comfortably along with any of great works of composition where the Irish traditional music idiom has engaged wider artistic forms of the past fifty years.

This recording confirms Paul Harrigan as not only a prolific performer of excellence but also as a composer and arranger of exceptional abilities

Caoimhín MacAoidh

Deirdre & Ella McGrory

Deirdre and Ella McGrory are sisters from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal. Coming from a musical family, the girls have been involved in Irish Traditional Music from a young age. Deirdre sings and plays the whistle. Ella plays the fiddle and piano.

Both Deirdre and Ella are students of the Irish World Academy of University of Limerick, from which Deirdre has recently graduated. They have been involved in musical groups for years and have extensive performance experience throughout Ireland and GB.

‘Loinnir’ is the first studio recording from the sister duo and is a collection of songs that they love. This record has a mixture of traditional and folk songs and a blend of contemporary accompaniment. ‘Loinnir’ encapsulates their favourite aspects of music from their childhood.

The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny is proudly funded by Donegal County Council and Arts Council Ireland.