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Introduction … about this CD

The recordings on this CD are of songs that Séamus Ennis collected in Iorras Aintheach, Connemara, between the years 1942-1945. I have chosen twelve songs from the collection, which is in Ionad Uí Dhuilearga, University College Dublin. The words of the songs and the names of the singers are written in the manuscripts of the collection. The tunes of the songs are written in other manuscripts, which also contain dance tunes. There are original recordings available for two of the songs, one in Ionad Uí Dhuilearga, and one in the RTÉ archive.

I have never heard anyone sing the majority of these songs, nor even heard tell of them. Some of them are unusual versions of common songs and only exist in written form. What Ennis achieved was extraordinary. As well as the texts, he noted a great deal of detail in the way of ornamentation, pauses, sustained notes etc in the music.

I had heard that there were a lot of songs and other lore in Iorras Aintheach, but even so, I got a shock when I saw the manuscripts! Besides the great number of songs, there was a great diversity of versions between different singers in the region, regarding both the words and the tunes, and it was often difficult to choose between them. As for the tunes of the songs, I tried to sing the first verse (which was often all that was written) as closely as I could to the music written in the manuscript. After that, I would sing the rest of the song in my own way.

I have tried in the recordings to be faithful to the dialect as portrayed in the manuscripts, however, I have edited some of the Irish spelling for this booklet. I hope this CD will awaken more interest in the collection and that more songs and other material will be brought back into the living tradition..

Saileog Ní Cheannabháin

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