Faoiseamh

New compositions commissioned by The Rolling Wave on RTÉ radio, with support from the Irish Traditional Music Archive. 

Faoiseamh Composers

The Rolling Wave radio programme on RTÉ is presented and produced by fiddle player, Aoife Nic Cormaic.  During the initial lockdown of 2020 the programme, in association with ITMA, commissioned 10 composers to write new tunes in a project called Faoiseamh.  Initially the composers recorded the tunes on whatever devices they had in their homes, and these, along with interviews were broadcast in June and July of 2020.  

As restrictions eased the artists were invited once again to make studio-quality recordings of those tunes, and these were re-broadcast on the Rolling Wave on 8 November 2020.  This re-broadcast coincided with the publication of the tunes on the ITMA website as interactive scores.  Each tune also has recordings, some played slowly by the artists to aid the learning process, and PDF downloads of the staff notation.  The full suite of learning resources can be found at the links below, click on an artist's name to go directly to their compositions.

Our thanks to RTÉ, the performers and The Rolling Wave for permission to publish the recordings.

PLAYLIST featuring all ten composers playing their tunes, courtesy RTÉ

INTERACTIVE SCORES of all 16 tunes in the Faoiseamh project

TUNE BOOK with transcriptions of all 16 tunes, available for download

  • An grianstad, slow air ; The halting sun, reel /composed by  Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
  • An páistín Fiach, waltz / composed by Johnny Óg Connolly
  • Into a brighter day, hornpipe / composed by Josephine Marsh
  • Tearmann, air and jog / composed by Eoin Dillon
  • The glint in her eye, jig ; An solas sa dorchadas, jig / composed by Edel Fox
  • The lockdown slip jig ; Coming out of lockdown, reel / composed by  Charlie Lennon
  • An smólach, slow air / composed by Emer Mayock
  • I'll meet you on a day that never ends, waltz ; The Ballinahulla butterfly, polka ; Tranquility in Tureencahill, polka / composed by Bryan O'Leary
  • Mouse and shrew, planxty ; The flute-friendly reel / composed by Liz Carroll
  • Give her the rest she's earned, hornpipe / composed by Tommy Fitzharris




Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

Mairead Pic
An grianstad, slow air [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh] ; The halting sun, reel [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh]

I was in lockdown at home in Carrickfinn , Co Donegal during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

I went for my daily walk by my home, to Tráigh an Bháid and An Trá Bán and so many things went through my mind on these walks, initially afraid of what could happen but gradually through listening to the nature that surrounded me ; the crash of the Atlantic on the shore, the gentle wind brushing my face and the joyous bird song, my spirit lifted and I would return to my home filled with joy and hope.

Through this daily ritual I was inspired to play music and even compose pieces.  

An grianstad and The halting sun happened to come to me on the Summer Solstice, hence the title. The halting sun being my translation of the Gaelic version of the Solstice; An grianstad!
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

An grianstad, slow air [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh] ; The halting sun, reel [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh] / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle ; Manus Lunny, bouzouki, courtesy RTÉ

Video of Mairéad playing the tunes slowly [opens in a new tab]

An grianstad, slow air [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription 

The halting sun, reel [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription 


Johnny Óg Connolly

Johnny Óg Connolly Resized
An páistín Fiach, waltz [comp. Johnny Óg Connolly]
I composed this waltz for a friend's young son.It was originally just in two parts and easy enough for a child to play, hence the simplicity of the melody.I decided to develop this simple waltz into an expanded version reflective of my mood during the pandemic.
Johnny Óg Connolly

An páistín Fiach, waltz [comp. Johnny Óg Connolly] / Johnny Óg Connolly, accordion, courtesy RTÉ

An páistín Fiach, waltz [comp. Johnny Óg Connolly]

Interactive Score
Tune Transcription 

An páistín Fiach, waltz [comp. Johnny Óg Connolly] / Johnny Óg Connolly, accordion [playing slowly]


Josephine Marsh

Josephine Marsh Pic
Into a brighter day, hornpipe [comp. Josephine Marsh] 

‘Into a brighter day’ was written at the beginning of the ‘Lockdown’ 2020.  

The tune for me reflects the range of emotions that I, and I’m sure many people around the world felt during this very unsettling time in our history.
Josephine Marsh

The title came about from reading a verse in a memoriam card I found of the late Tom Carey the concertina player from Leitrim in Cree, Co Clare.  Tom and I played a lot together when I moved to West Clare in 2003, and we went on to become great friends as well as musical companions.  

Into a brighter day, hornpipe [comp. Josephine Marsh] / Josephine Marsh, accordion ; Andrew Kinsella, bouzouki, courtesy RTÉ

Note: This tune was written in G minor, and this is the key of the learning resources below.  The track recorded for broadcast on RTÉ was played in a different key so that Josephine could record it with her son, Andrew.

Into a brighter day, hornpipe [comp. Josephine Marsh]
Video of Josephine playing the tune slowly 
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

Into a brighter day, hornpipe [comp. Josephine Marsh] / Josephine Marsh, accordion [played in G minor], courtesy RTÉ


Eoin Dillon

Eoin Dillon
Tearmann, air and jig [comp. Eoin Dillon]

I had being thinking of the life during the covid pandemic. No gigs, no going out to town. Plenty of walks in the park and waking some mornings, asking what will I do today. When I was asked to write a tune for the Faoiseamh project, twas good. Something positive to mark this time and a challenge to myself. I had thought of writing an ugly tune . When I hummed it's irritating melody and rhythm, I left it on the road I was walking.

The first two slower parts I had in my blue book for a while, so as not to forget them. I didn't forget them and thought this was a good opportunity to put them to use.  After playing the second slow part it suggested following with another more enthusiastic piece, hence the jig.  The last part came as I wanted something to finish and also so RTÉ would think I put in the extra effort.  

The name Tearmann came as it sometimes felt like being on retreat during the pandemic.
Eoin Dillon

Tearmann, air and jig [comp. Eoin Dillon] / Eoin Dillon, uilleann pipes ; Anna Mary Donaghy, fiddle, courtesy RTÉ

Tearmann, air and jig [comp. Eoin Dillon]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

Tearmann, jig [comp. Eoin Dillon] / Eoin Dillon, uilleann pipes [playing slowly]


Edel Fox

Edel Fox Pic
The glint in her eye, jig [comp. Edel Fox] ; An solas sa dorchadas, jig [comp. Edel Fox]

The glint in her eye, jig [comp. Edel Fox] ; An solas sa dorchadas, jig [comp. Edel Fox] / Edel Fox concertina ; Caoimhín Ó Fearghail, greek bouzouki, courtesy RTÉ

'The Glint in her Eye' is a tune for my eldest daughter Aedín who has a beguiling charm and uses the expression in her eyes to great effect!
Edel Fox

The glint in her eye, jig [comp. Edel Fox]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

The glint in her eye, jig [comp. Edel Fox] / Edel Fox concertina [playing slowly]

"An Solas sa Dorchadas" is a tribute to my youngest daughter Fiadh who was born in late 2019, during a time that I was going through treatment for cancer - she really was my light during a very dark time and this is my ode to her.
Edel Fox

An solas sa dorchadas, jig [comp. Edel Fox]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

An solas sa dorchadas, jig [comp. Edel Fox] / Edel Fox concertina [playing slowly]


Charlie Lennon

Charlie Lennon 14231 Jpg
The lockdown slip jig [comp. Charlie Lennon] ; Coming out of lockdown, reel [comp. Charlie Lennon]

I find that the 9/8 time, the slip jig, is a lovely way of creating. There’s a lovely beat to it. It welcomes you in and helps you come up with notes. I wanted to get a mood that was not down that way but lowered, and expressive of something that was happening around us.  

The reel then is to give us joy and to bring life into ourselves, to wake up and go and get out there and dance and meet and celebrate because we haven’t done that yet as a nation.

So the slip jig was where we were and where we’re partly yet and the reel is something to come where we can let go and actually be ourselves.
Charlie Lennon

The lockdown slip jig [comp. Charlie Lennon] ; Coming out of lockdown, reel [comp. Charlie Lennon] / Charlie Lennon, fiddle, courtesy RTÉ

The lockdown slip jig [comp. Charlie Lennon]
Interactive Score
Tune transcription
Charlie Lennon's arrangement of the tune

Coming out of lockdown, reel [comp. Charlie Lennon]
Interactive Score
Tune transcription
Charlie Lennon's arrangement of the tune

RTÉ Rolling Wave Podcast, an extended interview with Charlie Lennon that was recorded Summer 2020 for the initial Faoiseamh broadcast.


Emer Mayock

Emer Mayock
An smólach, slow air [comp. Emer Mayock]
The tune was inspired by the enterprising thrush building her nest in our garden last March, hatching the eggs, the birth of her chicks and the care she gave them. She signalled optimism and enthusiasm amid the lockdown.
Emer Mayock

An smólach, slow air [comp. Emer Mayock] / Emer Mayock, flute, courtesy RTÉ

An smólach, slow air [comp. Emer Mayock]
Video of Emer playing An Smólach
Interactive Score
PDF Download


Bryan O'Leary

Bryan Oleary Musician 4
I'll meet you on a day that never ends, waltz [comp. Bryan O'Leary] ; The Ballinahulla butterfly, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary] ; Tranquility in Tureencahill, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary]

I'll meet you on a day that never ends, waltz [comp. Bryan O'Leary] ; The Ballinahulla butterfly, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary] ; Tranquility in Tureencahill, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary] / Bryan O'Leary, accordion ; Brian Mooney, guitar, courtesy RTÉ

I wrote this tune in honour of all the people who have sadly lost their lives throughout this pandemic and the frontline workers for their massive sacrifice and help in saving so many others.
Bryan O'Leary

I'll meet you on a day that never ends, waltz [comp. Bryan O'Leary] 
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

I'll meet you on a day that never ends, waltz [comp. Bryan O'Leary] / Bryan O'Leary, accordion, [playing slowly]

While out for a walk in my local area, I stopped at Ballinahulla bridge. I was just gazing down into the flowing stream when a butterfly caught my attention! It's colours were green, white and orange! The colours of our National tricolour!

A really beautiful butterfly and so I felt obliged to name this tune in its honour.
Bryan O'Leary

The Ballinahulla butterfly, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

The Ballinahulla butterfly, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary] / Bryan O'Leary, accordion [playing slowly]

Tureencahill is my own native townland. It is situated roughly halfway between the villages of Gneeveguilla and Ballydesmond, in the heart of Sliabh Luachra, in the Kingdom of Kerry. 

Throughout lockdown, I began to reconnect with my home surroundings and fully appreciate my townland for all its glory.
Bryan O'Leary

I have found great peace and tranquility here the past 26 years.  There are only two Kingdoms; The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry and I'm lucky enough to live in the best townland in one of those Kingdoms! haha! 

Tranquility in Tureencahill, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

Tranquility in Tureencahill, polka [comp. Bryan O'Leary] / Bryan O'Leary, accordion [playing slowly]


Liz Carroll

Liz Carroll Credit Marianne Mangan B W
Photo by Marianne Mangan
Mouse and shrew, planxty [comp. Liz Carroll] ; The flute-friendly reel [comp. Liz Carroll]

Mouse and shrew, planxty [comp. Liz Carroll] ; The flute-friendly reel [comp. Liz Carroll] / Liz Carroll, fiddle ; Jake Charron, guitar, courtesy RTÉ

The very first thing I thought of, getting to write tunes for this project, was I'd like to write something for children.
Liz Carroll

I wrote a fairly serious dirge in the early days of the pandemic, so I felt like I got that off my chest and wanted to think positive.  This is the tune that came out!  My husband's father used to make up stories for my husband and his siblings when they were young, all starring a mouse and a shrew.  When our own children were little, my husband also made up stories for them which followed the exploits of Mouse and Shrew.

Mouse and shrew, planxty [comp. Liz Carroll]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

Mouse and shrew, planxty [comp. Liz Carroll] / Liz Carroll, fiddle [playing slowly]

This is a tune for all those flute players who complain that my tunes are not flute-friendly. In an effort to win their approval- here's a tune that is in D and doesn't go below the fiddle D.
Liz Carroll

The flute-friendly reel [comp. Liz Carroll]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

The flute-friendly reel [comp. Liz Carroll] / Liz Carroll, fiddle [playing slowly]


Tommy Fitzharris

Tommy Fitzharris
Give her the rest she's earned, hornpipe [comp. Tommy Fitzharris]

Give her the rest she's earned, hornpipe [comp. Tommy Fitzharris] / Tommy Fitzharris, concertina ; Colm Ó Caoimh, guitar, courtesy RTÉ

This hornpipe was composed during the national lockdown of our country as a result of Covid-19. The tune title came to me as I reflected on the impact this pandemic was having on the music of Ireland and it's musicians. 

The title personifies our unique traditional Irish music as gaining some respite from the global music touring circuit where it has become a vocation for so many.
Tommy Fitzharris

Give her the rest she's earned, hornpipe [comp. Tommy Fitzharris] / Tommy Fitzharris, flute

Give her the rest she's earned, hornpipe [comp. Tommy Fitzharris]
Interactive Score
Tune Transcription

"Tommy originally wrote this on flute, but when it came to bringing him into studio to record RTÉ weren't allowed bring in any flute players so he switched to concertina"

Aoife Nic Cormaic


Faoiseamh is the Irish word for relief or respite.

The final project was called 'Faoiseamh' because it describes the solace which music has given to so many people over the past few months

Aoife Nic Cormaic

Presented by Treasa Harkin, November 2020, with thanks to Aoife Nic Cormaic, RTÉ the Rolling Wave, Aoife Ní Bhriain and all the composers.