An Irish Lullaby

This is a gorgeous collection of Irish and English lullabies, many of them shot through with enough banshees, witches and mountainy hags to put manners on the feistiest of juniors.

This is a gorgeous collection of Irish and English lullabies, many of them shot through with enough banshees, witches and mountainy hags to put manners on the feistiest of juniors. Ní Uallacháin's palette is wide, her vocal cords generous and inviting. Amid mythic characters such as The Children of Lir and Diarmaid and Gráinne, there lurk raggle taggle gypsies, neolithic goddesses and the odd aul lad with a rake of children chomping at his heels.

Apart from filling the void in Irish lullaby collections, An Irish Lullaby stretches and bends the boundaries of that genre so fluidly that its thoughtful arrangements, its elaborate orchestrations are a second skin to the simple and beautiful lyrics. Garry O Briain's mandocello, Helen Davies' harp and Nollaig Casey and Maire Breathnach's violas are balm to the spirit, certain de-stressors for parent and chisler alike.

'Suantraí Sí' is a superb ode to childhood innocence, penned by Paidrigín's brother, Ruaidhrí, while 'The Willow Tree' is Ní Uallacháin's own offering to her children, inspired by a visit to Poulnabrone dolmen.

'Eithne's Lullaby' is a particularly affecting piece; draped in a minimalist garb of Davies' harp and Breathnach's keyboards, fiddle and viola, Ní Uallacháin's contemplative delivery is both lullaby and lament for the author, her sister who died tragically last year. This is as fine a tribute as she could've paid Eithne, a testament to the merits of simplicity, of sentiments expressed with enviable transparency and lucidity.

An Irish Lullaby is a thing of beauty. It insinuates itself right under the skin with all the agility of a toddler long versed in the art of bewitching, and manages to gather a much wider audience within its gabháil en route. Music for children and wanna be's… and anyone with an ear for sublime melodies and soothing chant-songs to boot.

 

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