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Lorcan Mac Mathuna - Visionaries 1916
A few months ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Terry Moylan’s book, The Indignant Muse, and Lorcán has evidently been drinking from a similar well. The result is a truly remarkable recording; subtitled Songs And Music Of Connolly, Pearse, Ceannt And Plunkett, it concentrates on the songs and poems of these four cornerstones of the Easter Rising, interpreting them through the medium of songs and music in a way that accentuates their historic character while imbuing them with a voice that speaks directly to us today.

If that sounds a little pretentious, it’s not meant to: this is an immensely difficult CD to do justice to within the confines of two or three hundred words. The mood ranges from the atmospheric idealism and love poetry of Joseph Plunkett through James Connolly’s literal demand for the earth of Ireland, Éamonn Ceannt’s piping legacy and Pearse’s brooding, inspirational rallying calls, to a beautiful Lament For Thomas McDonagh.

Lorcán has chosen an excellent crew of musicians to create this tour de force: his regular collaborator Daire Bracken (fiddle and guitar) is joined by the excellent Martin Tourish (accordion), ĺde Nic Mhathúna (vocals) and Éamonn Galldubh on pipes, sax, flute and bodhrán. In addition, Elaine O Dea reads a love letter from Plunkett – a very affecting piece that can be taken on more than one level.

The 1916 commemorations have produced a good deal of excellent artistic output of all sorts, but there can be very few that stand comparison with this recording. It covers the spectrum of emotions unleashed by those idealistic men (and women) in their own words, and in a way that is immediately accessible. If you only listen to one recording of material on the Easter Rising, this is the one you should hear.

John Waltham

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