“MacDara Ó Raghallaigh’s fiddle playing is often described as ‘brilliant’, ‘amazing’, ‘top-class’. These accolades indeed fit well as MacDara has earned a reputation as one of Ireland’s outstanding fiddle players. His playing style is highly individual, personal and deeply rooted in the pure tradition. What strikes you is the personality and flair in the music and the driving rhythm and pulse that is delivered by a powerful fluid bowhand.
MacDara interprets and fashions each tune to his own liking, building in variation and ornamentation with a great sense of feeling to draw the most out of the tune. The result is an ear-catching performance full of energy, inventiveness and expression, delivered at a solid steady pace with great underlying rhythm and lift.
MacDara is the youngest of the musical Ó Raghallaigh family from Rathmolyon, Co.Meath and he was reared on music. Their home on the family farm was one filled with traditional music and song, and Irish was the everyday spoken tongue. His father Pádraig from Cill Chiaráin, Connamara, plays accordeon while his mother Máire, a fine singer, had been a member of Seán Óg Ó Tuama’s ‘Cantairí na Life’. As a child MacDara listened to the music of his older siblings before he got the chance to start on the fiddle himself – his late brother Félim on fiddle and flute, Nóra and Áine on fiddles, and Micheál on concertina. From an early age he took to the fiddle like a fish to water and developed his music skills playing at junior céilís, sessions and house dances in Co Meath.
MacDara achieved many All Ireland honours in solo, duet, trio, and céilí band competitions through all the age groups at the Fleadhanna Cheoil, including the All Ireland Senior Fiddle at Clonmel in 1992. He is also a winner of Oireachtas and Fiddler of Dooney fiddle competitions. He was a member of the Naomh Pádraig Céilí Band from its formation in the junior age groups right through to their becoming three in a row All Ireland Senior Céilí Band Champions in 2004/05/06. Nowadays he plays in local Meath sessions and shares his talent teaching young fiddlers around the Trim area.
This first anticipated and overdue recording of MacDara comes from two nights of playing before a live audience on 14th and 15th of January, 2011 in Newtown, Co Kildare, not far from his Meath home. It is just a sample of the enormous repertoire of tunes he possesses, and it will bring his music to a wider audience. The unaccompanied sound of the fiddle makes for clear listening and it will be of particular interest not just to followers of the music but to students of the fiddle everywhere. I was going to list my favourite tracks but decided I’d leave it to you – there’s a richness and inspiration in all of them!
Bain sult as.”