Derry singing circle set to welcome Cathal McConnell

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The next session of the popular Derry singing circle will be held on Thursday, October 3 in Tinneys Bar, Patrick Street starting at 9pm.

The special guest will be Cathal McConnell, who needs no introduction to followers of traditional singing and music.

Born in Bellanaleck, Fermanagh he comes from a family of singers and flute-players. His singing is in the traditional Fermanagh style, which he learned from his childhood. His father Sandy, a well known traditional singer and musician, recorded for the BBC in the 1950s. His early musical collaborators in Ireland were fiddler Tommy Gunn and Robin Morton.

Cathal is best known as the mainstay of traditional band The Boys of the Lough, of which he was a founder member. After meeting at a folk festival in Falkirk, Scotland, the group The Boys of the Lough was formed and their first recording was released in 1973. Originally consisting of McConnell on flute, Aly Bain (fiddle), Dick Gaughan (vocals and guitar) and Robin Morton (bodhran and vocals). Although there have now been multiple line-up changes, the group remains active and has 21 studio albums to its name. McConnell is the only remaining founder member.

Outside the Boys of the Lough, Cathal has released two collections of songs and tunes, performed in duos with Robin Morton, Scots fiddler Duncan Wood, Irish fiddler Gerry O’Connor, and as ‘The Cathal McConnell Trio’ with Kathryn Nicoll (fiddle) and Karen Marshalsay (harp). In recent years fiddle player Gerry O’Connor has compiled a collection from Cathal’s song repertoire which has been published as I Have Travelled This Country. This collection of 123 songs includes over 6 hours recording of unaccompanied song; some will be familiar to the listener and many recorded by Cathal for the first time.This is an important resource for the student and lover of traditional song.

Cathal is an All-Ireland champion in both flute and whistle, winning both Senior titles at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann held in Gorey, County Wexford in 1962. Following a longstanding involvement with the annual Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, the School paid tribute to McConnell with an evening of speeches, music and song dedicated to him at the 2009 event. In 2010 Cathal was awarded the Gradam an Amhrání/Traditional Singer of the Year award at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards ceremony.

We expect a big turnout for this session so please come early to ensure a seat. Everyone is welcome both singers and listeners.