I’m going to get this out there straight away - I love Christmas! A barrel load of festive tunes is never going to fail to float my boat, but in this day and age of endless Christmas records is there anything out there that’s still fresh and interesting? Well, in the case of Irish language duo Roisin Elsafty and Ronan Browne, teamed up with Tony Maher, the answer is a resounding yes!
Supported by longstanding publishers of Irish language media, Cló Iar-Chonnacht, they’ve put together a gargantuan 20 tracks mixing traditional festive tunes from Ireland along with a glut of old favourites, lovingly translated into their native language. Some you’ll recognise, some you’ll hear for the first time, but for the most part you’ll enjoy every minute.
If you’re wanting something to rock out to during your festive celebrations then you may be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a record to share with your family whilst snuggled up with a hot chocolate and the fairy lights on then look no further. Cloigíní (Jingle Bells) and Rudolf na Sróine Deirge (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer) in particular have a beautiful, lullaby quality to them that all children will love to nod along to.
For the more discerning of us that like a carol or two there’s medleys featuring Hark The Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen amongst others. Don’t expect any Kings College-esque belting out of the lyrics though - these again are realised with splendid calm and delicate beauty that will delight those sat around the Christmas Dinner table.
The whistles and flutes of Ronan Browne are ably assisted by the piano of Tony Maher throughout and Roisin Elsafty’s vocal is as good as anyone from the Emerald Isle. Perfect for Christmas music.
Of the tunes you might not be familiar with Dia do Bheatha a Naí Anocht is a stunning piece of music; a tender melody that is arguably the high point of a wonderful collection of songs. Gather round, fill up a glass and celebrate Christmas as never before.
Nollaig Shona to one and all.Rob Fearnley
Out now through Clo lar-Chonnacht
1. An Chead Noel
2. An Drumadóirín
3. Ar Bhreith Naíonáin
5. Ding Dong Merrily On High
6. Oíche Nollag
7. O Holy Night (Instrumental)
8. Litir Chuig Santaí
9. Go Teolaí sa Máinséar
10. Medley (Instrumental)
11. Cuireadh do Mhuire
12. Adeste Fideles (Instrumental)
13. An Ghlóir
14. Tá Aistear Fada Romhainn
15. Walking In The Air
16. Rudolf na Sróine Deirge
17. Dia do Bheatha a Naí Anocht
18. Tá Sé Beirthe Naomh-Aon Dé
19. Oíche Chiúin
20. Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil