At the heart of Irish traditional music is community, and it is not necessarily defined or limited by geography. You don't need to be a native to go native musically.
All it takes are sincerity, respect, and commitment to gain entrée into this tight-knit global community, whether as a performer or as a fan.
_Musical families are often the backbone of multi-generational continuity within that global community, and no musical family today is more impressive in upholding the best principles of the tradition than the Mulcahys of Abbeyfeale, West Limerick.
_Originally from Brosna, North Kerry, button accordionist Mick Mulcahy himself was influenced by his father and an uncle, and Mick, in turn, has passed on that devotion to Irish traditional music to his two talented daughters: Louise, who plays flute, uilleann pipes, and whistle, and Michelle, who plays fiddle, harp, piano, concertina, and accordion. Both sisters are multiple All-Ireland champions.
_A member of the Brosna Céilí Band, who won the All-Ireland senior championship in 1972, Mick Mulcahy released a self-titled solo album for Gael-Linn in 1976 and "Mick Mulcahy agus Cairde," another Gael-Linn recording, in 1990 that featured longtime playing partner Mick O'Connor on banjo.
_In 1999 Louise Mulcahy appeared on "A New Dawn" (Na Píobairí Uilleann), spotlighting the skills of a younger generation of pipers, and in 2004 Michelle Mulcahy played harp on two tracks of "Legacy," a recording made by another prominent Limerick family of musicians, uilleann piper Mickey Dunne with his daughters Bríd on fiddle and Niamh on fiddle and vocal.
_In 2000 Mick, Louise, and Michelle Mulcahy collaborated on "The Mulcahy Family," a Shanachie CD produced by Mick Moloney that finished in the Irish Echo's top 15 traditional albums for that year. Their new CD is "Notes From the Heart," which they produced on their own for Cló Iar-Chonnachta, the Galway-based company that now outshines all other labels worldwide for both quantity and quality of Irish traditional music releases. (Previously in 2005, CIC released "Fortune Favours the Merry" and "Within a Mile of Kilty," both enthusiastically reviewed in "Ceol.")
_The teenaged sisters on "The Mulcahy Family" CD are now adults, and the greater maturity and seasoning of their playing brim with even more brio. Their uilleann pipes-fiddle duets on "Charlie Mulvihill's/Farewell to Ireland" reels, "The Whistler at the Wake/The Humours of Glynn" jigs, and "Pádraig O'Keeffe's 1 & 2/The Humours of Ballydaly" slides, along with their flute-harp duet on "The Bag of Spuds/A View From Across the Valley/The Galway Rambler" reels, are exemplars of tempo, precision, energy, expertise, and invention all rolled together. Their virtuosity matches their versatility.
_Michelle's harp solos on "Mike Rafferty's/Bímis ag Ól/The Lark on the
_Strand" jigs, with delicate bodhrán work from Tommy Hayes, and especially "The Green Mountain/The Hearty Bucks of Oranmore" reels confirm she is one of Ireland's most adroit and creative harpers. And her concertina solo on "Lady Gordon/The Rainy Day/Barr na Cúile" reels reveals a flair reminiscent of Clare's Noel Hill and Meath's Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh.
_Mick Mulcahy is understandably proud of his two daughters' musical skill and gives them ample room on the CD to display it. But he also affirms his position as one of Ireland's best box players with a buoyant solo on "Joe Banne's/The Road to Glounthane" flings, backed with a nimble lightness on bones by Hayes. The majority of the CD showcases the Mulcahys' fluid, lively, close trio playing. It sparkles on "Páidín O'Rafferty/John McHugh's/The Fog in the Bog" and "Billy McCormack's/An Seanduine Dóite/Maguire's Kick" jigs, as well as on "Cooley's/The Virginia/Master Crowley's," "Gathering Sheep/Lad O'Beirne's/Paddy's Gone to France," "The New Found Out/The Drunken Landlady/The Thrush in the Storm," and "The Leitrim Lilter/Patsy Touhy's/The First Month of Spring" reels. Michelle wrote the first reel in "The Road to Cree/John Egan's/Sarah Hobbs," a superb medley that starts with a brisk flute-fiddle duet from the sisters, who are soon joined by their father.
_The accompaniment of Hayes and Providence's Cyril O'Donoghue on bouzouki and guitar adds properly moderated percussion and rhythm to the Mulcahy mix and keeps it in the forefront where it belongs.
_On their album Mick, Louise, and Michelle acknowledge Mike Rafferty, raised in Ballinakill, Galway, and residing in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., whose masterful music inspired them to include three tunes learned from or linked to him: "The Thrush in the Storm," "The Shaskeen Jig," and "Mike Rafferty's."
_Bearing strong testimony to the ongoing power of family in the Irish tradition, "Notes From the Heart" is chock-full of music that rewards the ears, stirs the mind, and lifts the soul.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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