This is an album of songs sung in the traditional sean-nós style by the award-winning sean-nós singer from Gweedore in the Donegal Gaeltacht, Noeleen Ní Cholla. There are thirteen tracks in all each with accompaniment by Manus Lunny. The album includes songs from the Irish tradition, the Scottish tradition and it contains a selection of songs in Irish, in Scots Gaelic and in English all beautifully sung by Noeleen.
Noeleen Ní Cholla has been singing traditional songs since she was seven years old growing up in the Donegal Gaeltacht and has competed in singing competitions all her life. Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) is steeped in sean-nós (old-style) singing and in traditional Irish music. Noeleen inherited her love for music from her family, the older generation around her, her teachers and sean-nós singers in the locaility.
Manus Lunny produced the album which is released on the Cló Iar-Chonnacht label. There are thirteen songs chosen by Noeleen on this album and she sings each one with heart and emotion. Noeleen's accomplished style shines through each song and she makes them her own. Manus Lunny also accompanies Noeleen on the tracks on a variety of instruments. The power of the voice is woven through careful and considered accompaniment.
As with most of Cló Iar-Chonnacht's traditional Irish music albums this album of sean-nós songs by Noeleen Ní Cholla includes a professionally produced booklet which includes the words of each track as well as personal notes by Noeleen explaining the stories behind the songs and why she chose each song. The lyrics are included in their original form and language and the notes on each song feature in Irish and in English.
Noeleen has won many awards in Ireland and overseas for her singing. She won first place in the International Traditional Singing Competition at the Pan-Celtic Festival in Carlow in April 2012. She has won several prizes in competitions abroad, at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen in Wales in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She also represented Ireland at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient in Brittany in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Songs from the Donegal and Scots Gaelic tradition belong to a riche store: many preoccupied with the vagaries of love lost, squandered or unrequited.
Noeleen Ní cholla is a sean nós singer from Gweedore who wears her vocal talents lightly.
Her decorative flourishes are subtle and sympathetic to her eclectic song choices, although her treatment of the big Donegal love song, Dónall Óg is too expansive, resulting in a diluting of the heartache at the core of this grand tale of love unrequited.
Manus Lunny’s production is suitably spacious in style. Unusually, Ní Cholla contributes one song of her own composition, Lá Aoibheann Cois Trá, a melodically genteel tale with some lovely whistle playing from Martin Crossin.
Ní Cholla’s debut is shot through with a quiet confidence that reflects a lifetime rich in both singing and listening.
Albam úr le Connallach an cheoil
Ceol úr ar an sean-nós ag amhránaí óg
Pól Ó Muirí, The Irish Times, 15 Aibreán 2015
Seoladh an chéad albam leis an amhránaí ar an sean-nós Noeleen Ní Cholla – An Mhaighdean Mhara (Cló Iar-Chonnacht) – ag an Fhéile Phan-Ceilteach i nDoire Dé hAoine. Amhránaí óg ildánach as Gaoth Dobhair í Ní Cholla atá ag coinneáil an dé i dtraidisiún na hamhránaíochta don chéad ghlúin eile.
Is cainteoir dúchais í agus tá an Ghaidhlig ar a toil aici fost mar gur chaith sí tamall ina cónaí ar na hoileáin i nGaidhealtahd na hAlban. Amhráin i nGaeilge, i nGaidhlig na hAlban agus i mBéarla atá le cloisteáil ar an albam seo dá bharr sin.
Chas Ní Cholla roinnt amhrán i gcuideachta an ghrúpa An Crann Óg, amhránaithe óga a bhí ina n-aoicheoltóirí ar an albam léi, Dé hAoine.
Ní hamháin go raibh na hÉireannaigh i láthair leis an cheol a sheoladh chun bealaigh ach bhí muintir na hAlban ann fosta. Beirt eile atá ar an albam agus a cheol léi ná an t-amhránaí ar an sean-nós Albanach, Tearlach MacColla, agus fear an bhosca cheoil, Calum Mac Colla.
Donegal is well-known the world over for its traditional singers and musicians. It’s no surprise therefore that another fabulous compilation of music is due for release very soon from this part of Ireland. This time it is the turn of Noeleen Ní Cholla who is a native Irish speaker from the Gaoth Dobhair area of the county. Gaoth Dobhair is steeped in sean-nós singing traditional music, acting and dance. Noeleen Ní Cholla has certainly inherited this tradition from the older generation that is around her. Her forthcoming album showcases all that is traditional Irish music and sean-nós at their very best.
The title of the new CD, An Mhaighdean Mhara (the mermaid), is based on a song of the same name, that Ní Cholla learnt as a young child. It is the story of a Mermaid who falls in love with a man from the mainland of Gaoth Dobhair, or, in some stories from Tory Island. “I have always loved teh magic around this story and song. They say that The Mermaids descendants still reside in Gaoth Dobhair or Tory Island,’” said Noeleen. They’re certainly kept alive with the release of this album.
The album, consisting of 13 tracks, is a combination of sean-nós and traditional music. Noeleen is accompanied by her good friends Tearlach MacColla and Tormod MacFhionghuin on the Scottish Gaelic songs. She says “they add to the Scottish Gaelic authenticity of the songs:. Calum Mac Colla’s accordion accompaniment adds to the “tone and style of E Ho Ro Mo Nighean Donn,”. Also accompanying on the album are An Crann óg, who as Noeleen says, “provides a beautiful harmony and duet to Lú Aoibhinn Cois Trá.”
Ní Cholla is clearly singing her style of music on this compilation. “I wanted to sing the different styles of songs that I have liked; Irish Gaeilge sean-nóß; Scottish Gaelic sean-nós, my newly composed song and English Ballads. I feelt that the music on the new CD is relaxing; it has a lot of relaxing tones/sounds. There is a mixture of sean-nós singing in Irish and Scots Gaelic with some soprano/classical styles in the Scottish Gaelic songs. The style is traditional overall with soft acoustic guitar featuring in a few songs and piano in one of the sean-nós songs, Bean an Fhir Ruaidh, by Manus Lunny. The flutes and uilleann pipes by Martin Corssin add to the mellow tones and the Irish traditional style.”
Lá Aoibhinn Cois Trá is Ní Cholla’s own composition. “I felt inspired to write this song having met a travelling storyteller, singer and musician, called Samuel Allo who was walking from Britany around Ireland, Scotland and Wales, gathering songs and stories in the Celtic languages to tell school children in schools in Brittany. I recorded a few songs and the stories of the songs for him and he stayed with me and my family for a night on his journey.”
Noeleen also told me, “I was also inspired by local singers such as Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Máire Ní Bhraonáin who were taking our local Irish songs to a wider audience.” Now it’s Noeleen’s turn to take her singing to this audience!
Although Ní Cholla has collaborated on numerous other albums, this is her first in her own right. How does that feel I asked her: “The whole experience of making my first solo CD has been very exciting. I have enjoyed other collaborations recording with other people or on compilation CDs but this definitely has been more exciting for me. To work on a CD from beginning to end, from the birth of the idea until the end product is in my hands is a very fulfilling and exciting experience. Manus Lunny’s wonderful production work, engineering , mixing, accompaniment, harmony singing and great patience have added excellently to that.”