Music series

The Return of Traditional Music series tells the stories of some of Ireland’s greatest artists

THE return of TG4’s flagship series Sé mo Laoch delves into the lives of some of Ireland’s finest musicians and singers.

Now in its 11th series, the popular Irish-language program is back with five episodes due to air on Sundays at 9:30 p.m. from November 15 and will be available to viewers around the world on TG4 Player after their initial airing.

Each of the five hour-long documentaries celebrates the musicality and creativity of some of Ireland’s best known and most respected artists.

Musician Máire Ní Chathasaigh appears in the new series

A spokesperson for TG4, which commissioned the Aniar TV-produced series, explains it as a showcase of “the immense diversity of traditional Irish music and musicians, from ‘Jimmy Hendrix of the bagpipes’ Paddy Keenan to the sisters of Cork Nollaig Casey & Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Fermanagh singer Gabriel McArdle and Clare siblings Geraldine & Éamonn Cotter, not to mention the King of ‘Kerryoke’ himself Séamus Begley”.

They add, “Each program is as unique as it is intimate and tells the story of these founding musicians in their own words.”

The series begins with an insight into the life and career of Paddy Keenan, one of Ireland’s best known Uilleann Pipers.

Born into a well-known family of traveling musicians, Keenan’s playing was central to The Bothy Band’s sound.

“Paddy rarely does interviews and has a magnetism that draws musicians and fans alike to him and his music,” the spokesperson explains.

‘Jimmy Hendrix of the Pipes’ Paddy Keenan

The first episode also features contributions from Paddy Glackin, Matt Molloy, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Peter Browne, Séimí O’Dowd, Éamonn De Barra and John McSherry.

Kerry box player and singer Séamus Begley is featured in the second episode.

“Begley’s signature vocals and duet with Australian guitarist Steve Cooney have left an indelible mark on traditional music in Ireland,” says TG4.

“He has sung with Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, The Waterboys and Téada and still does a bit of farming at his home on the western end of the Dingle Peninsula,” they add.

Joining him in the second episode are his family, Steve Cooney, Muireann Nic Amhlaíobh, Donagh Hennessy and Óisín Mac Diarmada.

Nollaig Casey is one of Ireland’s greatest fiddlers

Next, a profile on the life and career of sisters Cork Nollaig Casey and Máire Ní Chathasaigh.

Nollaig Casey is one of Ireland’s greatest violinists/fiddlers and she has performed with everyone from Van Morrison to Planxty, Coolfin, Cherish the Ladies, Makem and Clancy, the National Symphony Orchestra and many more.

Her sister Máire Ní Chathasaigh was the first woman to be named Musician of the Year by TG4 and is also known as the first person to play reels and jigs on the harp.

“We take a look at their lives and their music with guests such as Arty McGlynn RIP, Chris Newman, Máire Ní Ghráda, Dónal Lunny & Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh,” confirms TG4.

Episode Four centers on two of the best-known representatives of the Irish musical tradition in County Clare, siblings Geraldine and Éamonn Cotter.

Kerry box player and singer Séamus Begley

Geraldine is a pianist and teacher with a unique approach to music due to her childhood playing with the older masters of music.

Éamonn is a flautist and flute maker and, while playing with the Tulla Céilí Band in his youth, he now makes flutes that are played all over the world.

Guests such as Jack Talty, Kieran Hanrahan, Áine Hensey, Méabh Donnelly and Charlie Harris also feature in this episode.

The songs and vocals of Fermanagh singer Gabriel McArdle are the subject of the latest installment in this series.

Adrian Dunbar, Cathal McConnell, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Gary Hastings, Ciarán Curran, Fintan McManus, Gerry O’Connor and Martin Quinn join him in the episode.

Sé mo Laoch is broadcast on TG4 on Sundays from November 15 at 9:30 p.m. Watch the series on TG4 reader.