Pictured at a recent performance in Holy Trinity Church as part of the Rolling Sun Festival were, from left, Declan Askin, Brian Lennon, Alan Drumm, Conall Ó Domhnaill, Freda Hatton, Mike Cannon, Steve Bryant and Leonard Kelly. Photo: Conor McKeown

Mayo group Coda launching new CD - O’Carolan in Song

RENOWNED harper Laoise Kelly will be launching Coda's new CD - O’Carolan in Song - in Matt Molloy’s Yard Bar, Westport, on Thursday, November 23, at 8 p.m.

Drawing on vocal talent from Mayo, Coda comprises of seven singers who combine strong backgrounds in Irish traditional, folk and contemporary music, with an a capella singing ability and style developed from various musical backgrounds.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Conall Ó Domhnaill talked about how this latest album came about: “In the spring of 2021, Laoise Kelly, representing Féile Chruite Acla, approached us with an idea for a project. Many people are familiar with the wonderful tunes of O’Carolan, but, until Laoise informed us, we were not aware that most of those famous tunes had lyrics.

“That was how O’Carolan earned his living - writing songs and tunes in praise of his benefactors.

“Laoise presented us with two copies of The Complete Carolan Songs and Airs by Caitríona Rowsome and asked if we would try out the songs within. The idea was to pick two or three of them and sing them online for the Achill Harp Festival, which would be a virtual event that year, due to Covid restrictions.

“We spent the next few months trawling through the books and whittling down the songs until we ended up with nine songs which feature on this album.

“Trying to get a handle on the songs was difficult at the start, as we couldn’t meet up and so had to send recordings around via WhatsApp. Eventually, restrictions were eased and we were able to meet again as Coda.

“Freda Hatton, a wonderful harper living in Westport, came on board and we all got cracking on the arrangements. Laoise also organised the legendary Steve Cooney to come and meet with us on two occasions and help refine our instrumental arrangements. So, we practised all summer long and when it came to doing the recording it was very difficult to get a venue in Achill as The Banshees of Inisherin was being filmed at the time. Finally, we got a venue - The Valley House - which proved to be a lovely setting. We recorded the nine songs there, and this live performance was broadcast online as part of Féile Chruite Acla in October 2021.

“We had spent so much time and effort and received such good feedback that we decided to go ahead and make a CD of the concert. The CD is called O’Carolan in Song.”

It is fitting that Laoise Kelly will launch this new CD as the idea came from her in the first instance.

The launch will be an informal gathering in Matt Molloy’s Yard Bar. It will be a free event, but seating will be limited, so it’s advised to arrive early. Doors will open at 8 p.m.

For those who can’t make it, Coda and Freda Hatton will be performing a full concert on February 23 next in Westport Town Hall Theatre.