CDs and book of Achill songs, music and poems compiled by John ‘Twin’ McNamara.
Track listings for CD 1:
1. Oileán m’Aislingí
2. The Great O’Malley from Slievemore Hill
3. Nóra Dheas na gCraoch-Fholt ní Bháidhidh
4. The Islands of Ireland
5. Coire Dubh Linn
6. Isle of the Eagle
7. Fáinne Geal an Lae
8. The First and Last Trains to Achill
9. Slán Leat Acaill
Track listings for CD 2:
1. Oileán Acla
2. Séideadh na hAdhairce
3. Cúl na Binn
4. In Exle – Island of my Dreams
5. Muintir an Iarthair
7. An Caiptín Ó Máille
8. Oileáin na hÉireann
9. Teanga Bhinn ár Máthar
From the book:
Fáilte – Welcome by Emer Mayock, Artistic Director, Music of Mayo / Ceol Mhaigh Eo
John ‘Twin’ McNamara is a seminal cultural figure from Achill, a custodian of treasured songs and music of the island, a composer, a musician, a singer, an Irish speaker, an advocate for Gaelig’ Acla and possessing a tireless, unflagging desire to nourish and promote, to educate and encourage. He has dedicated his life to the discover, exploration and sharing of the culture of his beloved Oileán Acla.
It is fitting then that the title of this recording is Oileán m’Aislingí – Island of my Dreams. John’s dream of preserving the precious traditional culture of the island and of the county of Mayo prompted him to take action through many ground-breaking initiatives, among them the revival of Scoil Acla in 1985 which has provided the traditional arts community with an invaluable cultural touchstonea and the publication of Achill Songs and Poetry with Scoil Acla in 1987 which creates an enriching resource for all traditional artists and those who wish to explore the spirit of the island.
On this new collection of recorded songs, John brings us on a journey to the Deserted Village of Slievemore, the lake at the back of Croaghaun mountain and the beauty of all of Ireland’s islands. John’s own writing and the poetry for which he has composed music provide historical sketches of events and customs that have shaped the island. Séideadh na hAdhairce (Blowing of the Horn), songs of Achill emigration and exile, The First and Last Trains to Achill which recollects the Clew Bay drowning disaster and the bothy fire disaster, the beauty and fragility of nature as expressed in the Isle of the Eagle, songs from John’s father and the famed Achill song – Cúl na Binn.
There is so much to enjoy in the singing and the music on this remarkable collection. It contains a lifetime of knowledge, carefully crafted with a love and deep regard for traditional culture, language and the history that has shaped all of us and belongs to all of us.
Deepest gratitude to John for shining a light on the riches around us.
Project Background by Eoin McNamara, Project Co-ordinator
John ‘Twin’ McNamara was born in Dooagh, Achill Island on 7th June 1935.
He has long been an advocate of the rich tradition of Achill songs and recognises the importance of preserving them for future generations. He was the driving force behind the first major collection of Achill songs which resulted in the publication of a song book by Scoil Acla in 1987. This collection was subsequently expanded in 2015 and now contains over one hundred Achill songs and poems.
The recording ‘Oileán m’Aislinaí (Island of my Dreams) is a compilation of eighteen songs, ten in Irish and eight in English. It includes a mix of old Achill songs, John’s own compositions, old Achill poems to which he has composed the music and some of his other favourites. All the songs, apart from ‘Teanga Bhinn ár Máthar’, were recorded between his 84th and 86th birthdays.
John hopes that this recording will inspire people to be proud to sing Achill songs for themselves and for others. It is his wish that this recording will provide an impetus for a more comprehensive collection of Achill songs and their airs to be made available through online platforms, thereby ensuring that they will be preserved for future generations to sing and enjoy.