Leitrim's Hidden Treasure

McNamara Family

Leitrim's hidden treasure is an intensely carefully documented and cultivated collection of musical research and playing. It is largely the result of the passionate obsession of one family in South Leitrim in Ireland.

Leitrim lies immediately to the north and east of Sligo, and it is an area recently and currently overlooked in popular Irish traditional circles, both in terms of collecting, and of the playing of the music.

This CD is a family's attempt to set the record straight, as it were, and focuses partially on a virtually archival approach to a collection of musical manuscripts dating from the late 1800's recently rediscovered, and the remainder on tunes transmitted through generations of local musicians.

The tunes are carefully documented, both for their direct providence, and for their parallel evolutions in tunes more familiar from the Sligo and Clare repertoire.

The family is that of the McNamara from the area of Aughavas. A father, four sons, and a daughter.

Well, enough said on the academic and background side.

Musically, this is an intense and rich recording. Rich in care, rich in leisurely precise timing within the music, and rich in understated precise technique.

The sets vary from one of the fiddle, unaccompanied but for the soft drone of a chanter, working in a painstaking variance of tuning through the set. The first tune is played in an older, non western but precise tuning, the next is in a more East Clare tuning to the final in a modern tuning best associated with elecronic tuners. Other tune sets range up to the full family and a friend or two, the family being two flutes, two pipers, a fiddle and a concertina. Some sets bring tunes that seem remarkably modern in their compostion and playing to fit like a glove on the hand of tunes that predate Playford. There is not a note out of place.

Yes, there is a guitar periodically. It is refreshing that such painstaking care as is evident in the playing and the research is not maniacal in limiting the music to instruments authentic to the period. This is not recreated period music played on period instruments. There is no clearer evidence of a living tradition steeped in love and dependance on music so many of us love.

The work of the recording results in a beautiful document savoured slowly through the years to come, built as it is on the tradition of the years that have come to be past.

Great tunes, too.

Review by Thom Pratt October 1998.

Leitrim's Hidden Treasure, Drumlin Records, 1998, LHTCD 1

Real Audio samples and ordering information are available at the web site , which also contains information about the various tracks.

Mailing address:
  McNamara Family
  County Leitrim

The Tunes:

1. Reels: The Holly Bush / Leitrim's Greig's Pipes / 
   The Cornhill / The Old Dudeen (5.03)
2. Slip Jigs: The Barony Jig / The Leitrim Quickstep / Moll Roe (3.00)
3. Hornpipes: Old Man Quinn / The Shaskeen (3.28)
4. Reels: Miss Dunbarr / Green Fields of America / The Reels of Tully / 
   The Musical Priest (4.07)
5. Air / Jig / Piece: Síle Ní Ghadhra  (7.09) 
6. Jigs: Tandragee / The Mouse in the Cupboard / Larry the Beer Drinker (3.59)
7. Air/Hornpipe/Reel: The Bold Soldier Boy / Logier's/ 
   Miss Gunning's Rant (7.21)
8. Reels: Michael Creamer's / The Humours of Tooma(2.30)
9. Hornpipe: Morgan's (5.46)
10. Reels: The Tramp's Reel / Cut the Sod (2.16)
11. Jigs: The Unfortunate Rake / The Humours of Ballingarry (4.20)
12. Hornpipes: The Low level / Flood's (3.29)
13. Reels: Greig's Pipes / The London Lasses / 
    The Nine Points of Knavery (3.47)
14. Jigs: The Humours of Glin / Grier's #249 (2.55)
15. Hornpipes: Grier's #16 / Chief O'Neill's visit(3.56)
16. Reels: O'Connell's Reel/ The Mountain Lark / The Cloone Reel / 
    Bernie McKiernan's Dream (3.58)
17. Reels: Miss Simple's Reel / The Humours of Bolton Street /
    Bring her to the Shelter /Miss Gunning's (4.19)

The Musicians

  Michael McNamara: Flute
  Brian McNamara: Uilleann Pipes
  Ray McNamara: Uilleann Pipes & Tin Whistle
  Ciaran McNamara: Flute
  Enda McNamara: Fiddle
  Deirdre McNamara: Concertina

Guest Musicians                                   
  Frank Kelly: Piano
  Mick Giblin: Guitar
  Barry Carroll: Hammer Dulcimer

Copyright © 1998 Wil Macaulay

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