Compositions by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

269543 Mairead
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh / Colm Hogan

In 2020 Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh was commissioned by the director of An Grianán Theatre, Patricia McBride, to write some music for Letterkenny Trad Week 2021.  Ré an tSolais, a suite comprising 6 different pieces of music, was composed as part of that commission. The suite was premiered virtually on 24th January 2021 from the Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Poster for Ré an tSolais
Ré an tSolais poster / Éadaoin O'Donnell

Ré an tSolais meaning The Time of Light or The Era of Light.

All my compositions for this suite were inspired by hope, and looking towards the glimmer of light in the future when we can all be together after the intensity and loneliness of the COVID 19 lockdown of 2020-2021.
Tagann an t- ionspráid don ceol nua seo ón loinnear úr dóchais atá romhainn amach sa todchaí indiadh dianghlasú agus dorchadas géarchéim na paindéime 2020/2021.

Ré an tSolais / composed by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

  1. Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], air
  2. Port ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig
  3. Ceo na maidne [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig
  4. An grianán [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], hornpipe
  5. Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], song
  6. Ríl an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], reel

Listen: Ré an tSolais, the full suite performed by the composer.

Learn: Interactive scores of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh compositions, with the tunes played slowly by the composer.

Watch: Video playlist of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh performing each piece. The performance is shown from three angles to aid in the learning process.  The dance tunes are played both slowly and at normal speed.

Read: Transcriptions of compositions, composed by and transcribed by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.  Transcriptions are available in both staff notation and ABC formats.


Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], air

I felt strange after touring and coming home to lockdown, it was bittersweet.  I was initially frightened but soon enjoyed the time with my daughter, exploring the seashore around home and being with family.

Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], air / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Learn the tune:

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], air / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Port ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig 

I like playing in this key, A minor.  It sits well on the fiddle and it reminds me of my father, Francie Mooney.  He loved jigs in particular. 

Port ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Learn the tune:

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

Port ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig [played slowly first and then played at normal speed] / Mairéád Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Port ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig [played slowly] / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle


Ceo na maidne [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig

The mist (ceo) is always part of the landscape in North-West Donegal, especially in the early morning when the sun is trying to break through and disperses the soft light on the landscape.

Ceo na maidne [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Learn the tune:

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

Ceo na maidne [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig [played slowly first and then played at normal speed] / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Ceo na maidne [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], jig [played slowly] / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle


An grianán [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], hornpipe

A double play on the word grianán meaning sundial. It is the name of the  theatre where this tune was first performed!  I also wanted to use this title as it was the home address of my late husband, Frankie Kennedy, in West Belfast.

An grianán [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], hornpipe / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Learn the tune:

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

An grianán [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], hornpipe / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], song

The song was inspired when my sister, Anna Ní Mhaonaigh, was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of the lockdown. It evokes hope for her healing. 
Chum mé an t-amhrán do mo dheirfiúir, Anna Ní Mhaonaigh, mar gur chuala muid i rith mí na Nollaig go raibh ailse uirthi agus bhí mé ag iarraidh uchtach agus biseach a thabhairt díthe.  Is seort paidir nó guí chuici é. 

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], song / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, singing in Irish

Learn the song:

Ré an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], song / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh


Ríl an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], reel

I was going to finish the ‘suite’ with the song but then I thought that a reel would lift the spirits at the end... so that’s where the reel came in.
Chum mé Ríl an tSolais le ardú meanma a thabhairt don éisteoir ag deireadh na píosaí ceoil i Ré an tSolais.

Ríl an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], reel / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Learn the tune:

ITMA videos are hosted on YouTube, a platform which requires the acceptance of marketing cookies before the video can be launched. Please update your cookie preferences to watch this video. You can change your cookie preferences at any time from the link at the top of the page.

Ríl an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], reel / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle

Ríl an tsolais [comp. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh], reel [played slowly] / Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddle


About Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh / Colm Hogan
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh / Colm Hogan
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh / Colm Hogan

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh / Colm Hogan

© 

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh was born and raised in the heartland of the Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht in Donegal. She is a native speaker and learnt her songs and tunes from her family and neighbours.

Mairéad is internationally known as one of the most important fiddle players that play in the unique Donegal style. This takes her to the world stage with her band Altan, who play the music of Donegal with pride, throughout the world.  Mairéad learnt her songs and tunes from her father Francie Mooney, one of the most important fiddle teachers in that part of the country. Mairéad is also a founder member of 'Cairdeas na bhFidleirí', that began over twenty-five years ago to promote, develop and keep alive the richness of the county. Mairéad harvested inspiration at first from her family and neighbours. Many musicians and singers visited her home when she was growing up, which influenced her as a young girl.

Mairéad qualified as a primary school teacher in 1979 and began teaching in Malahide, in County Dublin. In 1987, Mairéad and her husband, Frankie Kennedy decided to become full-time musicians and they founded Altan. The band went from strength to strength over the years, playing the music of Tír Chonaill around the world, from New York to Tokyo and back again. The band stayed true to the music and songs that they learned from their family back at home in Donegal in their neighbours kitchens and at sessions.

Aside from playing with Altan, Mairéad is also renowned for her work on other projects. She can be seen presenting music programmes on both radio and television, like 'The Long Note', and 'The Pure Drop', and lately, 'The Full Set'. Mairéad is on recordings along with Enya, The Chieftains, Dolly Parton, The String Sisters and many others. She hopes to take time out to compose new music in the future.

Mairéad was awarded ‘Donegal Person of the Year’ by the Donegal Association in Dublin in 2008 for her promotion of Donegal fiddle music and song. She was also awarded the prestigious TG4’s Gradam Ceoil ‘Musician of the Year’ in 2017 at a gala event in the Cork
Opera House.


Presented by Treasa Harkin, April 2021, with thanks to Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Aoife Ní Bhriain.