Updated 10 July 2021
Danny Mackay joins Aidan Crossey to help create another of our collaborative playlists of Irish traditional music.
I first met Mr Mackay at the back end of the 1990s when I started taking my tentative steps into playing sessions and since then his path and mine have crossed regularly and often at sessions in and around South East London where we both live. Danny plays whistle, flute and box in public – and a rake of other instruments “in the house”. Unlike some session-fiends, Danny is an avid listener as well as a player and these selections showcase his fine ear for good music.
Now, on with the music!
M is for VANESSA MILLAR. Danny says: Vanessa Millar plays The High Level Bridge Hornpipe, to give it its proper name. Commonly known as The High Level. Written by James Hill around 1840 to celebrate the opening of the aforementioned bridge over the River Tyne in Newcastle. Vanessa Millar – The High Level Bridge Hornpipe
M is for DAVID MUNNELLY. Aidan says: I follow up Danny’s selection by Vanessa Millar with another box track. Whereas Vanessa is the epitome of restraint, coolness and precision, this track by David Munnelly is the polar opposite – sheer exuberance and devil-take-the-hindmost! David Munnelly – The Cuckoo’s Nest/The Silver Spire
M is for MACDARA Ó RAGHALLAIGH. Danny says: The first 2 tunes were composed by Vincent Broderick and the last 2 by Josie McDermott. Niall Kenny says: “frankly if you don’t own this album you need to re-assess your life as it is clearly incomplete.” ….’nuff said. MacDara Ó Raghallaigh (launching his wonderful live album “Ego Trip” – The Milky Way/The Ring Around The Moon/Peg McGrath’s/The Mill Of Kylemore
M is for MARTIN DONOHOE AND MICHAEL GAFFNEY. Aidan says: Cavan box player, Martin Donohoe is not only a very prolific (and highly listenable!) musician in his own right, but one of the most generous of people active in the Irish Traditional Music arena at promoting other musicians. His album Tasty Touches featured a cast of – not quite thousands, but dozens – of other fine musicians. On this selection from the second CD of the Tasty Touches collection, he is joined by flute player Michael Gaffney for a set of polkas. The first is billed on the album as “My Love Is But A Lassie Yet”. However I know another polka by that name and I know that particular tune as “Farewell To Whiskey”. But I’ll defer on this occasion to Martin and Michael. After all, a rose by any other name and all that! Martin Donohoe and Michael Gaffney – My Love Is But A Lassie Yet/The Dark Girl Dressed In Blue
M is for ÓRLAITH MCAULIFFE. Danny says: Here’s a tune from London’s own Órlaith McAuliffe. Colonel Fraser’s is a 5-part reel, most likely originally a tune for uilleann pipes, a piece for showcasing a player’s virtuosity. I quote Dave Eger at The Session.org: “From the Fiddler’s Companion: Flute player Seamus Tansey relates that Colonel Fraser was an English landlord in Leinster, a man of good temperament who was kind to his tenantry and to travelling pipers. He bought one piper a set of new pipes and had this tune composed for him in gratitude. Tansey said the piper was inspired by the sight of the Colonel galloping on his horse to the hunt, “It’s like the ‘Fox Chase’, but different.” Órlaith McAuliffe – Colonel Fraser’s
M is for MARTIN NOLAN. Aidan says: I was very much taken by Martin Nolan’s piping on his album “Bright Silver, Dark Wood”. These are two widely-played reels but with Nolan’s piping and some layered accompaniment, they take on a new sheen. Bright silner, indeed. Martin Nolan – The Cameronian/The Cup Of Tea
M is for CONOR MORIARTY. One of 4 box players in the button accordion collective “Cordeen”, Conor Moriarty was crowned all-Ireland champion in 2009 for melodeon and 2010 for button accordion. Hailing from Kilcummin, Co. Kerry, he learned and plays in the Sliabh Luachra style. In 2010 he graduated with a masters in Irish traditional musical performance from the University of Limerick and in 2012 released a solo album “All in a Day’s Play”. The three Finbarr Dwyer reels feature on that album. I have only the title for the 2nd reel, Beare Island; the 1st and 3rd reels are just credited as Finbarr Dwyer’s. Conor Moriarty – Finbarr Dwyer’s/Beare Island/Finbarr Dwyer’s
M is for MATT MOLLOY, TOMMY PEOPLES AND PAUL BRADY. Aidan says: One of the most celebrated albums of Irish Traditional Music was the collaboration between former Bothy Bandmates Matt Molloy and Tommy Peoples with Paul Brady on guitar. Here’s a simply superb set of jigs. Matt Molloy, Tommy Peoples and Paul Brady – The Newport Lass/The Rambling Pitchfork
M is for THE GOOD MIXER. Danny says: The Good Mixer on a Saturday night in the 80’s was a haven, nay, a mecca, for almost all London-area trad-heads. Marcus Hernon et al were the resident “session” – well, it was really a band, more or less. The pub was always busy then, usually standing room only by 9pm. Aidan adds: I lived in Camden Town for most of the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s and in fact The Good Mixer stood on the corner of one of the streets I lived in (Arlington Road) and Inverness Street. By the time I’d moved to Camden and got my bearings properly, “The Mixer” was transitioning from being a distinctly no-frills Irish boozer into a hangout for the indie kids who frequented Camden. This video is quite long, at almost an hour and the sound quality is not the best. But for those who can see and hear beyond the technical limitations of the sound quality, this is an almighty stream of grand music and a piece of social history to boot! Marcus Hernon and others – live at The Good Mixer, Camden Town, London, c. 1985
M is for PAUL MCGRATTAN. Aidan says: If you’re still with us after that marathon from Camden Town, I’ll round off this playlist with a superb and blisteringly brisk set of reels from Paul McGrattan. This track is taken from his album, Keelwest, named after the village of Keel in Achill Island – one of my favourite places. And therefore as well as containing some powerful music, this album has always had another significance for me. Paul McGrattan – Colonel Rodgers’/The Roscommon Reel
Many thanks to Danny for some superb suggestions – and in particular, that rare and fascinating footage from The Good Mixer “back in the day”. Much appreciated, my friend, and here’s looking forward to a few tunes perhaps at some stage in the not too distant future.
Listen to the full “M” playlist, part 3 here.
All playlists on my channel here.
Return to the “A to Z” home page here.