The double-CD Lán Mara [Full Tide] features 19 traditional songs in Irish and English. It includes 8 songs from Treasa's native Inis Mór, many of which have never before been commercially released.
It has been 30 years since Treasa last released a solo album, her 1989 cassette An Clochar Bán. In that time, she has reaffirmed her reputation as one of the finest exponents of the traditional song of Ireland.
Throughout her career of over 45 years, she has performed nationally and internationally. She has also remained dedicated to teaching sean-nós singing to schoolchildren in all three Aran Islands, commuting by ferry and by air in all weathers to help ensure the future of local music traditions. Her new album marks the achievement of a life's work in song and celebrates her lasting legacy to Aran and to traditional singing.
The majority of the songs on Lán Mara were specially recorded in the oldest church in Inis Mór, Séipéal Eochla, by Jack Talty. While sean-nós song is typically performed unaccompanied, 6 tracks feature musical accompaniment by Saileog Ní Cheannabháin, Diarmaid Ó hAlmhain, Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin, Neil O'Loghlen, Locko Cullen, and Deirdre Ní Chonghaile.
Famed for her clarity of diction and committed performances, Treasa Ní Mhiolláin has made songs like An Spailpín Fánach and Cúirt Bhaile Nua her own. Celebrating an utterly unique and distinctive artistic talent, this album will be welcomed far and wide.
Speaking about the project, producer Deirdre Ní Chonghaile said: "It has been a huge honour and a great pleasure to collaborate with Treasa on this album. I'm grateful to all of the artists who contributed their understanding, creativity and professionalism to it, to the community in Árainn who supported us throughout, and to the project funders including the Arts Council, Foras na Gaeilge, Galway County Arts Office and Ealaín na Gaeltachta."
Cló Iar-Chonnacht can be relied on to do a good job producing recordings of sean-nós singers, and this time they've excelled themselves. I first heard Treasa about 30 years ago and was bowled over by the quality of her singing and her songs, and nothing's changed. This double CD is, unbelievably, only her second solo recording, but its 19 tracks span her 45-year career and give a fine representation of her repertoire.
Her voice has a youthful energy and a clarity in pronunciation that enables even a southern saxon to follow the story (and all the words appear in an excellent booklet, complete with a bit of background in both languages). Variety is provided by the addition of musical accompaniment on some tracks, by duetting on two more (both feeling very natural), and by a couple of songs in English. These last ones demonstrate how versatile a singer we have here; both the macaronic 'Siúil a Rún' and 'Lord Gregory' are fine examples.
Nearly all the songs in Irish are from her native Aran Islands, the subjects ranging from historical drownings and the humorous vagaries of an early 20th century road building scheme to an air crash in more recent times, and give an insight into the breadth of this island culture - you come away from this recording feeling you've had an overview of one aspect of culture, one that Treasa's done a great deal to nurture and preserve through a lifetime of dedication. No wonder she's so highly regarded by the entire Gaelic community; this recording can only enhance an already impressive reputation.
(Review by John Waltham, The Living Tradition Magazine)
Treasa Ní Mhiolláin learned the singing trade at the local hearth on Inis Mór, the biggest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, where and when swapping songs still was a daily activity.
Having quite a talent, she became the first Aran singer to perform regularly abroad. Thus she supported De Danann and Clannad in Germany in the mid 1970s, immortalised on "The 3rd Irish Folk Festival in Concert" LP. Three decades after releasing the cassette tape "An Clochar Bán" in 1989, she returns with the double-CD "Lán Mara" (Full Tide), featuring 19 traditional sean-nós songs in Irish and English which had been recorded at Séipéal Eochla, the oldest church at Inis Mór.
At least half a dozen songs of her selection are only to be found on her native island and have never been released before. There are local songs, e.g. about a drowning disaster way back in 1852 ("Aill na nGlasóg") or a plane crash in 1989 ("Bailéad an Phíolóta"); "An Craipí Bocht" is an Irish translation of the well-known 1798 rebel ballad "The Croppy Boy." More popular fare include the love song "Tiocfaidh an Samhradh," ditties such as "Dónall Og" and "An Spaílpin Fánach," the keening song "Caoineadh na dTri Muire" and the macaronic "Siúil a Rún." Among the English-language songs is the the Child ballad "Lord Gregory;" there is indeed an Irish connection though not in the west, the mentioned town of Cappoquin is located in the south eastern Irish County Waterford. Two-thirds of the album are unaccompanied, as is characteristic for sean-nós, and Treasa holds her ground with a clear-cut enunciation and a lilting intonation.