Nollaig Casey, Chris Newman, Arty McGlynn & Máire Ní Chathasaigh

Live Reviews of Nollaig & Arty


Below you'll find a selection of reviews of Nollaig and Arty's concerts that have been published in The Irish Times (festival), The Subiaco Post, The Ulster Herald, The Irish Times (concert), The Scotsman, The Belfast Telegraph and The Glasgow Herald.

"The highlight of the Festival was the exquisite and dignified playing of Nollaig Ní Chathasaigh... Strong and elegant on stage, her instrument appears almost to be an extension of her own body..."

(Western Australia)
"Nollaig Casey played wondrous fiddle before singing unaccompanied with such feeling it brought tears to the eyes..."

"I would happily sit all night in a cold theatre to listen to Nollaig Casey..."

"In the world of Irish traditional music, the guitar may sometimes appear to have usurped the role of the bodhran as the instrument of choice of those whose zeal exceeds their ability. Arty McGlynn plays the guitar but there the similarity with other guitarists ends. Whether performing solo, as a duo or as part of a larger group, he brings a unique rhythmic and harmonic approach to the guitar, having developed a style that has continually pushed at the accepted boundaries of whichever type of music he happens to be performing.

In the course of an extremely engrossing concert at An Creagan centre, a capacity crowd which had braved the foggy winter night, heard Arty and violinist Nollaig Casey play a program which went far beyond the limits of most traditional fare.

Nollaig is not in any sense the junior partner in this duo. I resisted saying second fiddle. She is steeped in Irish music and also has the advantage of being classically trained, which is clearly audible in the impressive technique and tone she brings to her music. Several pieces such as the piper's slow air 'Moran's Return' were unearthed by her from manuscripts dating from 1844 and in the absence of her research, might otherwise have remained unheard. In an even older piece 'The Clergy's Lamentation' she demonstrated how to accentuate the beauty of the melody by using only the very lightest vibrato, where less sensitive performers would show considerably less restraint or taste. One of her own compositions 'Lios na Banriona', with its carefully controlled pace and ornamentation, seems to hark back to an era when Irish music was not so far removed from its Italian and French counterparts.

Never one to move willingly into the spotlight, Arty shadowed the violin throughout the performance, playing melodies in unison, adding elegant harpsichord-like harmony or driving the music forward with a dropped D tuning rhythm. When he imposes complex cross-rhythms over a fast moving reel, the music is transformed and one begins to see how he can understand and emulate the complicated metre and rhythmic patterns of the Bulgarian and Galician music which were high points of the set.

It is this sense on rhythm and harmony that has been his essential contribution to the development of traditional music since the late 1970's. Apart from some well intentioned attempts at adapting American and English modal tunings to the solo performance of a few jigs and reels, up to then no other guitarist could be said to have made any real musical impression on the monolithic and extremely conservative traditional music world. Arty's good humoured account of how he was eventually invited into the inner sanctum need not obscure the fact the he basically invented a role for the guitar and continues to dominate his field. He also proved a useful translator, explaining to a mystified Nollaig that the title of the Cork slow air 'Cape Clear' meant 'No Parking' in rural Tyrone.

The audience was transfixed throughout this concert and two encores were required before the night ended. A performance of this calibre proves that Irish music in the hands of such gifted musicians can develop and absorb international influences without any threat to its own identity."

- Paul Maguire in THE ULSTER HERALD

"Casey produces a great range of sounds with her bow, from the silky sweet to the rough hewn, and her playing of slow airs suggests that - though the lyrics may be unsung - they must be in her mind as she plays, she does actually sing too. To say McGlynn provided accompaniment would be a crime of over-simplification. His fleet unison lines gave the jigs and reels huge momentum and his chordal patterns, full of bass lines come in an apparently infinite variety."


"Guitarist Arty McGlynn shared an interesting personal memory with the packed audience at the Festival's Harp Club. for it was at the Harp Folk Club, as it was then known, that in 1978, as a comparatively unknown showband musician, he appeared as a guest of folk singer David Hammond.

He stunned the crowd that night with the brillance of his guitar playing of traditional tunes and went on to become one of today's major figures on the Irish muisc scene.

As he says 'It was a night which changed my life'.

So it was as a main attraction that he now returned to the Harp Club with his wife, the fiddle player Nollaig Casey, to take us through a selection of tunes from their Causeway album.

Their consummate musicianship, with McGlynn's articulate chords and single string runs accentuating his wife's graceful fiddle work in fast dance tunes and stately airs, was acknowledged rapturously by the audience.

There's no substitute for class."


"It was clear from the opening bars of their set just why Casey and McGlynn attract so much interest. Casey's lyrical, singing fiddle, glanced and glided over and around McGlynn's richly imaginative harmonies, all expressed with an understanding which at times seemed almost the product of a single mind."

- Kenny Mathieson in THE SCOTSMAN

"Nollaig's performance was stunning for its sheer musical artistry, seducing some into quiet amazement and inducing others to insist on encore after encore..."


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