Celtic Folkweave

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Celtic Folkweave
Studio album by
Mick Hanly and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill
Released 1974
Recorded 1974
Genre Traditional Irish folk music
Length 38:20
Label Polydor
Producer Dónal Lunny

Celtic Folkweave is a studio album by Mick Hanly and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, released in 1974 by Polydor Records. Considered a seminal album[1] in the traditional Irish music genre, the musicians involved in the recording would go on to found some of the most innovative[2] and important groups to perform traditional Irish music. Recorded in Ireland in 1974, Celtic Folkweave consists of Irish, Scottish, and English ballads, sung in Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and English. The album is a clear precursor for Ó Domhnaill's subsequent work with The Bothy Band and Nightnoise.[3] The album includes the first extant recording of Ó Domhnaill's trademark "Fionnghuala", here titled "An Bothán A Bha'ig Fionnghuala". Other tracks are drawn from the repertoire of Rannafast (Donegal) songs collected and sung by Ó Domhnaill's aunt Nellí Ní Dhomhnaill. "The Hag at the Churn", "An Bothán A Bhaigh Fionnghuala", "The Banks of Claudy", and "The Heathery Hills of Yarrow" would all later be recorded by The Bothy Band, with Ó Domhnaill's sister Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill on vocals. "Bríd Óg Ní Mháille" was later recorded by Nightnoise. From 1973 to 1974, Hanly and Ó Domhnaill toured under the name Monroe,[4] although that name does not appear on the album cover.[5]


During the 1970s, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill was involved in some of the "most innovative projects and groups in Celtic music."[2] After his first group, Skara Brae, disbanded in 1972, Ó Domhnaill travelled to Scotland where he collected Gaelic songs on the Islands of Lewis and Skye as part of his work with the School of Scottish studies. When he returned to Ireland, he collected and recorded songs in Donegal, many of which he found through his Aunt Neilli Ni Domhnaill, who possessed a large collection of local songs.[1]

In 1973, while playing the club circuit in Ireland and still a student at University College Dublin, Ó Domhnaill met Mick Hanly, a Limerick-born singer, guitarist, and dulcimer player, and soon the two formed a duo called Monroe. Playing a mixture of Irish, English, and Scottish ballads, many sung in Irish (Gaeilge) and Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), Monroe's music centered around acoustic guitars, dulcimer, and voices—"Hanly's brusque tones complimenting Mícheál's lower-key vocals."[1][6] As Monroe, Hanly and Ó Domhnaill toured Brittany often, meeting with other local and visiting Irish musicians. During this time, Brittany was enjoying a major folk revival, with artists like Alan Stivell, Tri Yann, and Sonnerien Du just emerging onto the scene.[1] In 1974, Hanly and Ó Domhnaill recorded a single, "The Hills of Greenmore", and toured with the group Planxty as their supporting act. After enlisting the help of some of the members of Planxty—Liam O'Flynn, Dónal Lunny, and Matt Molloy—Hanly and Ó Domhnaill signed a deal with Polydor Records and recorded the album, Celtic Folkweave.[1]


The album was produced by Dónal Lunny, one of the pioneers of the Irish folk music revival in the 1970s. A key member of three of traditional music's most influential groups—Planxty, The Bothy Band, and Moving Hearts—Lunny would remain at the forefront of the traditional Irish music movement for the next thirty-five years.[7][8] The album was recorded at Eamon Andrews studios in Dublin. Hanly and Ó Domhnaill were supported in the studio by Liam O'Flynn on uileann pipes and whistle, Dónal Lunny on bodhrán, Matt Molloy on flute, Tommy Peoples on fiddle, Declan McNeils on bass, and Mícheál's sister Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill on harpsichord.[5]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

The album sleeve artwork was designed by Des O'Meara & Partners Ltd. and shows three connected spiral patterns (triskelion) against a black background with "Celtic Folkweave" in white stylized lettering highlighted with gold outline (some copies have red outline). The term "folkweave" refers to a type of fabric with a loose weave.[9] The back cover contains two photos of Mick Hanly and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, an annoted song listing, and the album credits.


The album contains eleven songs of Irish, Scottish, and English ballads, sung in Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and English. There are two pieces of puirt à beul, or mouth music, sung in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, five songs sung in Irish and English, two Breton tunes, one Irish dance tune, and a contemporary song in English.[3] The album opens with "Bíodh Orm Anocht", a strange song containing nonsense rhymes sung in a mixture of Donegal and Scottish Gaelic. "The Bold Princess Royal" is a song about a ship that is attacked by pirates while on a voyage from London to Newfoundland, and manages to outrun them. "The Banks of Claudy" is a song Ó Dhomhnaill received from Nellí Ní Dhomhnaill, about a woman who resigns herself to a lonesome existence after her sailor leaves, pining after him during his absence. When he returns, he disguises himself and courts her to see if she is still faithful to him. She resists his overtures, and he finally reveals his true identity. "Éirigh's Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh" is a common tune from Rannafast, County Donegal, for which there are various sets of lyrics. The title is Irish Gaelic for "Get Up and Get Dressed". The first side of the album concludes with "A Bothán A Bha'ig Fionnghuala", an example of Scottish puirt à beul. During their live performances, this was one of their most popular songs. The song features pipes and two bodhráns.[10]

The second side of the album opens with "The Heathery Hills of Yarrow", another song from Nellí Ní Dhomhnaill of Rannafast, County Donegal. It tells the story of a ploughboy who falls in love with a girl of high station and is slain by her brother and eight other knights. The ploughboy's sister ties his body to her back with her long hair and carries him home for burial. The spirited "Breton Dances" is a typical piece from the Breton Islands. "The Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbaw" is a song about the injustice of a farmer who mistreats one of his hired servants. "Bríd Óg Ní Mháille" is a love song from Rannafast, County Donegal, about unrequited love. "The Glasgow Barber" is a song about a poor Irishman who arrives in Glasgow and decides to get a fashionable haircut. On seeing the result, he thinks he looks like an ass. The final song of the album, "(No Love is Sorrow) Songbird", is a contemporary song written by the British band Pentangle, who recorded it on their 1972 album, Solomon's Seal.[10]


Writing in The Green Man Review, John O'Regan called Celtic Folkweave a "seminal" album, often looked upon as "a predecessor to The Bothy Band."[1] O'Regan praised the mixture of Irish, Scottish, and English ballads:

Celtic Folkweave includes some fine examples of the Mícheál Ó Domhnaill style and approach. Versions of 'The Banks of Claudy' and 'Heathery Hills of Yarrow' and the winsome 'Brid Og Ni Mhaille' show his sonorous voice in good stead. The Scots Gaelic mouth music of 'An Bothan a Bhaig Fhionnghuala' later became 'Fionnghuala' on the second Bothy Band album Old Hag You Have Killed Me issued in 1976. This album has now become an acid folk collector's 'holy grail'.[1]

On the Ceol Álainn web site, dedicated to rare recordings of traditional Irish music, Dragut Reis called Celtic Folkweave an "excellent album" and a precursor to Ó Dhomhnaill's work with The Bothy Band and Nightnoise.[3] Reis found the production "adequate", but not up to the standard of the material he would produce a year later for The Bothy Band.[3]


All of the musicians on Celtic Folkweave would go on to make notable contributions to the Irish and Celtic music genres, with Molloy, Lunny, Ní Dhomhnaill, Ó Domhnaill, and Peoples ending up in The Bothy Band, one of the most influential bands playing Irish traditional music in the 1970s.[7] A number of the album's songs would end up being recorded by The Bothy Band, including "The Hag at the Churn", "An Bothán A Bhaigh Fionnghuala", "The Banks of Claudy", and "The Heathery Hills of Yarrow".[3] Mícheál Ó Domhnaill would also go on to form partnerships with Kevin Burke and Billy Oskay. Mícheál and his sister Tríona would also go on to found the group Nightnoise, which enjoyed International success and inspired a generation of Irish musicians.

Celtic Folkweave was never reissued in either LP or CD format.[5] The master tapes of the recording may have been destroyed in a fire at one of the vinyl pressing plants of Polydor Ireland in 1982.[11][3] Copies of the original vinyl album Celtic Folkweave are considered rare collector's items.[1][12]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bíodh Orm Anocht" Traditional 1:45
2. "The Bold Princess Royal" Traditional 4:28
3. "The Banks of Claudy" Traditional 6:10
4. "Éirigh's Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh" Traditional 2:15
5. "A Bothán A Bha'ig Fionnghuala" Traditional 1:52
6. "The Heathery Hills of Yarrow" Traditional 5:54
7. "Breton Dances" Traditional 3:15
8. "The Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbaw" Traditional 2:51
9. "Bríd Óg Ní Mháille" Traditional 3:10
10. "The Glasgow Barber" Traditional 3:33
11. "(No Love is Sorrow) Songbird" Pentangle 3:04
Total length: 38:20


  • Dónal Lunny – producer
  • Pat Morley – engineer
  • Marcus Connaughton – sleeve notes
  • Des O'Meara & Partners Ltd. – sleeve design[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h O'Regan, John. "Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, 1951-2006". The Green Man Review. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Sawyers, June Skinner (2000). Celtic Music: A Complete Guide. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 304. ISBN 978-0306810077. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Reis, Dragut. "Celtic Folkweave (1974)". Ceol Álainn: Rare Recordings of Traditional Irish Music. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mick Hanly". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Celtic Folkweave". Discogs. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Hitchner, Earle. "A Quiet Man: Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, 1951–2006" in The Irish Echo, 19 July 2006.
  7. ^ a b Vallely, Fintan (1999). The Companion to Irish Traditional Music. New York: New York University Press. p. 217. ISBN 0-8147-8802-5. 
  8. ^ Winick, Steve. "Dónal Lunny". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Folkweave". Word Reference. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Connaughton, Marcus (1974). Celtic Folkweave (Sleeve notes). Mick Hanly and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill. Polydor. 
  11. ^ "The Vinyl Graveyard". The Irish Music Review. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Mathieson, Kenny (2001). Celtic Music: Third Ear, The Essential Listening Companion. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 31. ISBN 0-87930-623-8. 

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