Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
Mairéad performing with Altan at Mardis de Plouescat in 2013
|Born||26 July 1959|
Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Irish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾʲed̪ nʲiː ˈwiːn̪i]) (born 26 July 1959) is an Irish fiddler and the lead vocalist for the Irish folk music band Altan, which she co-founded with her late husband Frankie Kennedy in 1987. Today, Mairéad is recognised as a leading exponent in the Donegal fiddle style, and she is often considered as one of the foremost singers in the Irish language, her native tongue. She was part of the Irish supergroup T with the Maggies who performed in January 2009 at Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin their first ever two concerts under that name and who released in October 2010 their debut (and to date only) album. After nearly 22 years with Altan, Mairéad released in February 2009 her debut solo album Imeall. After 29 years with Altan, Mairéad released in October 2016 her alternate band Na Mooneys' debut album Na Mooneys.
- 1 Background
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Accolades
- 5 Discography
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- 9 Sources
Ní Mhaonaigh grew up in Gweedore, County Donegal, on the northwest coast of Ireland. Her father, Proinsias Ó Maonaigh, who got married in 1954, taught her to play the fiddle. She received tuition from fiddler Dinny McLaughlin, who was a frequent visitor to the home when she was young. Ciarán Tourish, who would later join Altan, was also a frequent visitor to the family home and also received tuition from McLaughlin.
Ní Mhaonaigh has two siblings:
- Her brother Gearóid Ó Maonaigh was an executive in an office for long years, played guitar for Ragairne (a short-lived band formed by Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy, of which singer Enya was a member), appeared on the album Ceol Aduaidh, and organised the Frankie Kennedy Winter School.
- Her younger sister Anna Ní Mhaonaigh was going from job to job, mostly in film and being PA to various TV projects, has contributed backing vocals to several albums and was a member of the (all female) group Macalla.
The early 1980s: Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh & Frankie Kennedy duo, Ragairne
One evening, during a session in Gweedore (County Donegal), fifteen-year-old fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, daughter of the session's leader Proinsias Ó Maonaigh, met with Belfast-born eighteen-year-old Frankie Kennedy during his summer trip to the Gaeltacht. They were attracted to each other, and Kennedy wrote to her regularly after leaving Donegal.
Kennedy was advised by a friend that he should learn an instrument if he intended to court Ní Mhaonaigh, and so he got a whistle and taught himself to play. Later he learned the flute, a somewhat louder instrument, so that he could hear himself in sessions. His love for Ní Mhaonaigh coupled with perfectionist tendencies turned him into a well-respected flute player.
Kennedy and Ní Mhaonaigh married in 1981.
The new couple continued to play at sessions in Donegal, and this formed the basis for their musical partnership. They made their recording debut on Albert Fry's eponymous record in 1979 and later formed a short-lived group called Ragairne which also included Gearóid Ó Maonaigh, Ní Mhaonaigh's brother, on guitar, Donal O'Hanlon from Newry on guitar, vocals and cittern and was rejoined in 1981 by singer Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, later known as Enya.
Joined by bouzouki player Ciarán Curran and Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, now known as Enya, on synthesizer, Frankie Kennedy and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh released a recording entitled Ceol Aduaidh on Gael-Linn records in 1983.
At the time, Kennedy and Ní Mhaonaigh were earning their living by teaching at St. Oliver Plunkett National School in Malahide, north County Dublin. But live performances in 1984 and 1985, particularly in the United States, convinced them that there was an audience for "no-compromise traditional music played with heart and drive," and they were persuaded to give up teaching.
During this time, the group added guitarist Mark Kelly and released in 1987 a record called Altan, named after a lake in Donegal, although the name Altan wasn't used for the band on that release. Altan was produced by Dónal Lunny, who subsequently appeared as either a producer or guest musician on every Altan album which followed.
Forsaking their jobs as teachers, Ní Mhaonaigh and Kennedy formed the band Altan during the late 1980s. Kennedy's death from cancer in 1994 put the band's future in question, but she decided to continue at Kennedy's explicit request.
As well as her work with Altan, Ní Mhaonaigh over the years has presented traditional music programmes on radio and television, including the radio show, The Long Note and the television series, The Pure Drop.
2005–present: String Sisters
Ní Mhaonaigh is a member of the fiddle ensemble String Sisters active as a band since 2005.
2007–present: T with the Maggies
Ní Mhaonaigh along with friends Moya Brennan, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill came together as T with the Maggies in 2007, and released their debut album T with the Maggies in October 2010.
2007–present: Solo work & solo live performances
In 2007/08, Ní Mhaonaigh recorded Imeall, her debut (studio) album in the home studio of her friend and musician/co-producer Manus Lunny in Tír Chonaill, County Donegal, Ireland. On 28 December 2008, at the Frankie Kennedy Winter Music School in Gweedore, Ní Mhaonaigh premiered live some songs from the album in an intimate concert with Lunny. For this occasion, she also released a small number of copies of the album. On 12 February 2009, the album was officially launched in Dublin and released worldwide. Only 3000 physical copies were pressed and made available worldwide from her website. The title is Irish for 'Edge' or 'Threshold' and the album features traditional/folk songs as well as new compositions by Ní Mhaonaigh.
Ní Mhaonaigh previously performed two special concerts in January 2008 at the Temple Bar TradFest with long-time friends Moya Brennan, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill. It was the second time the four musicians ever performed together. It was also the first time Ní Mhaonaigh performed live some songs from her then yet-to-be released solo album Imeall. For the occasion, she was joined by special guests who spent the last few years recording with her.
Since February 2009, Ní Mhaonaigh (fiddle, lead vocals) has toured solo and (mostly) as a trio with Manus Lunny (bouzouki) & James Higgins (percussions). She has also guested a few times with other musicians such as French flutist Sylvain Barou (in June 2013 in Calais, France and in April 2014 in L'Île-d'Yeu, France) and French violinist Didier Lockwood (also in June 2013 in Calais).
Mairéad also contributed a track, Má Théid Tú Chun Aonaigh to the Irish charitable album Ceol Cheann Dubhrann which was released in December 2009 to raise funds for two projects in Ranafast, a Gaeltacht area from which Mairéad has collected songs.
2013–present: Na Mooneys
On 7 January 2016, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh announced on her Facebook page that the new band called Na Mooneys that she had formed (along with her nephew Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and her siblings Anna Ní Mhaonaigh and Gearóid Ó Maonaigh) two years earlier (during the last Frankie Kennedy Winter School[nb 1] where they performed their first ever show) were in the process of recording their debut family album. On their Facebook page (created on 7 January 2016), the band describe themselves as «a family of musicians & singers from the Donegal Gaeltacht» playing Irish traditional music.
On 6 February 2016, the new band Na Mooneys announced that they were just near the end of the recording of their debut album in Manus Lunny's studio, with Anna and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh putting down some vocals for a few songs, before to get ready for the mix.
On 30 June 2016, Na Mooneys announced that they are due to perform on 12 July 2016 at Ionad Cois Locha, Dún Lúiche, Ireland, during the Trad Trathnona ("Trad Afternoon"), County Donegal's Summer of traditional Sessions (to occur each Tuesday in July & August).
On 19 September 2016, Na Mooneys announced the forthcoming release on 6 October 2016 of Na Mooneys, their debut (eponymous) album «of Irish traditional music and song from the Donegal Gaeltacht», revealed its 15-track list and made available a streaming audio version of the first track from it, "Dónal na Gealaí". The album line-up includes Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh on fiddle & song, Gearóid Ó Maonaigh on guitar, Anna Ní Mhaonaigh on whistle & song and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh on fiddle & octave fiddle with special guests Nia Byrne on fiddle & song, Manus Lunny on bouzouki & keyboards and Caitlín Nic Gabhann on concertina, foot percussion & dance.
Ní Mhaonaigh had a daughter named Nia Byrne (Nia Ní Bheirne) (born on 8 October 2003)[nb 2] with fellow Altan musician Dermot Byrne.
Ní Mhaonaigh was named "Donegal Person of the Year" in 2009.
- 2009 Imeall
As Frankie Kennedy & Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
- 1989 Horse with a Heart
- 1990 The Red Crow
- 1991 Harvest Storm
- 1993 Island Angel
- 1996 Blackwater
- 1997 Runaway Sunday
- 2000 Another Sky
- 2002 The Blue Idol
- 2005 Local Ground
- 2010 25th Anniversary Celebration (a compilation of studio re-recordings of previous material (plus one new song) with orchestral arrangements)
- 2012 Gleann Nimhe - The Poison Glen
- 2015 The Widening Gyre
- 2018 The Gap of Dreams
With String Sisters
- 2007 Live (CD/DVD)
With T with the Maggies
With Na Mooneys
- 2016 Na Mooneys
- 2017 "Soilse na Nollag" (4:26) (single released on 17 December 2017) by Na Mooneys and Manus Lunny (a Christmas Song or Carol, composed by Francie Mooney and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (his daughter), made available to help raise funds for the St. Vincent de Paul Society who help people who are disadvantaged all year round, and who's help is especially needed by people at Christmas)
- 1991 Albert Fry (Albert Fry)
- 1991 Fiddle Sticks (various artists)
- 1993 The Holy Ground (Mary Black)
- 1994 Lullaby: A Collection (various artists - Ní Mhaonaigh sings The Cradle Song, wrongly attributed to Karan Casey)
- 2001 Little Sparrow (Dolly Parton)
- 2001 Volume 3: Further in Time (Afro Celt Sound System)
- 2008 Tráthnóna Beag Aréir (Albert Fry)
- 2008 The Original Transatlantic Sessions DVD (various artists)
- "Altan Biography". Musicianguide.com. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "The Full Set – Presenter: Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh". RTÉ News. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012.
- "T With The Maggies". The Irish Times. 11 November 2010.
- McMillen, Robert (28 October 2016), "New album from Altan's Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh a family affair", irishnews.com, retrieved 28 October 2016
- "Altan · Altan's History". Altan. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh Official website". Mairead.ie. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "Folk Superstars to perform for Children". Clannad.org.uk. 18 November 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "Temple Bar to come alive: Mairéad, Moya, Maighréad & Tríona in Concert". Clannad.org.uk. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "Gigs Archive". mairead.ie. May 2016. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- "Moya Brennan on the songs of Rann na Feirste". Clannad.org.uk. 12 December 2009. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "Ag seinm ag an fhéile seo.....ag súil go mór leis an spraoi! (Playing at the festival.....looking forward to the fun!)". Facebook. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- "Na Mooneys sa studio". Facebook. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Na Mooneys ar Facebook anois". Facebook. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Mairéad is in the studio with her siblings Na Mooneys, to start off the New Year!". Facebook. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "About Na Mooneys". Facebook. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Ag críochnú an taifeadadh ar na laetha seo le Manus Lunny". Facebook. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- "Trad Trathnóna Iúil 12 July Na Mooney's". Facebook. June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Ag súil go mór leis an Temple Bar Tradfest 29 ú Éanair 2017 (Looking forward to the Temple Bar Tradfest 29 January 2017)". Facebook. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
- "Na Mooneys – Date: Sun 29th". Temple Bar TradFest. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
- "Dónal na Gealaí". Facebook. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "Dónal na Gealaí (5:01)". bandcamp.com. September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "Na Mooneys! (a (31:08) video taken by Síle Friel at the Glenties concert)". Facebook. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- "Mairéad is Donegal Person of Year (2009)". inishowennews.com. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Long, Siobhan (14 December 2016), The best of traditional music: 2016 TG4 Gradam Ceoil award winners announced – This year's recipients cast a light into traditional music's beating heart, The Irish Times, retrieved 14 December 2016
- "Gradam Ceoil TG4 2017". TG4. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "HugeDomains.com - TwithTheMaggies.com is for sale (Twith The Maggies)". Twiththemaggies.com. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Soilse na Nollag". bandcamp.com. January 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
- "Altan's History". Altan band web site. Archived from the original on 19 December 2005. Retrieved 10 January 2006.
- O'Regan, John. "Angels of the Island". The Living Tradition. Archived from the original on 11 March 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2006.
- Robinson, Michael (Fall 1995). "An Interview with Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh". Fiddler Magazine.
- Vallely, Fintan; Piggott, Charlie (1998). Blooming Meadows: The World of Irish Traditional Musicians. Nutan. Roberts Rinehart Publishers. ISBN 1-86059-067-5.