Liam Ó Maonlaí’s Rian musicians form a band

The musicians from the hugely successful theatre-dance-music production, Rian (with Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Fabulous Beast) have decided, after three years of touring and jamming and hanging out together, to go one step further and form a “group”. They have recorded the tracks for their first album together live in St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Galway, and it will be out quite soon. (If it reaches the heights of music in the Rian theatre performances or is anywhere near as good as Ó Maonlaí’s 2005 Rian album, it’ll be a winner for me.)
Ré, meaning ‘era’ or ‘moon’, is the name they’ve chosen and the musicians are Liam Ó Maonlaí playing piano, bodhrán and singing, Peter O Toole on guitar, bouzouki and singing, Eithne Ní Chatháin on fiddle, shruti box and singing, Cormac Begley on bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertinas, and Maitiú Ó Casaide on whistle and uilleann pipes.
Ó Maonlaí writes:
Michael Keegan-Dolan and I dreamt of a piece of theatre that would honour our cultural heritage. In that dreaming, we aligned our creative impulses with those of Seán Ó Riada’s. Eight contemporary dancers – Ino, Saju, Anna , Louise T, Saku, Louise M, Mani and Keir – and four musicians – Cormac, Maitiú, Eithne and Martin [Brunsden] – joined us. We sat in a room together looking at what we had and it looked good. We got into hours and hours of playing and dancing. We made a show, Rian, and it ran in Dublin and in London, first with Martin. After, Peter came and brought his otherworldly sensitivity to the group. We took it to New York, Sydney, Rome, Lyon, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. 
In Wellington, the band talked about the idea of making a record. Five stories find their way into a disc – a set of songs and tunes gathered from our collective memory. Cormac, Maitiú and Eithne are scholars. They never stop tempering their craft; learning and sharing new and old tunes and songs. We took ourselves to St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and invested our energy and stories into the recording. 
Rian at Heaven’s Gate set of the Visual Centre, Carlow, June 2012

Rian at Heaven’s Gate set of the Visual Centre, Carlow, June 2012

In this life there is pain; our brothers and sisters are living through unimaginable pain. We share that pain. Our music came also, from great pain and confusion. We would like to dedicate this record to those people who are crying out for our help and compassion. Ceol agus gaol.
Some of the tunes and songs heard at the live concerts earlier this summer and therefore possibly featuring on the CD include ‘The Glen of Aherlow’, ‘Port na Deoraí’, ‘Lough Erne Shore’, ‘As I roved out’, ‘Beauty Deas an Oileáin’, Peter’s ‘Watching for the Daybreak’, Liam’s ‘Amhráin na Féidireachta’ and Eithne’s ‘Guí’.
Meanwhile, between dates in Sweden, Germany and France, an Irish Rian Unplugged tour is coming up between 15 and 27 September in towns including Navan (17th, Soltice), Ennis (20th, Glór), Letterkenny (24th, An Grianán), Ballina (25th, Arts Centre).
Liam Ó Maonlaí (singer, piano and bodhrán)
Liam O Maonlaí was born in Dublin. His mother from Galway, his father from Cork. His mother showed him what it means to play piano and his father taught him to sing and transmitted to him a grounding in culture and a love of people. His twenties brought him to the world stage with the rock ‘n’ roll band the Hothouse Flowers, with whom he enjoyed seven years recording and performing around the world. Through his travels he has connected with artists from the aboriginal cultures of the land. ‘The possibilities in music are endless. It is time to dig deep’.
Peter O Toole (singer, guitar and bouzouki)
Peter O Toole grew up in Dublin and began playing music from a young age, firstly blowing the harmonica and recorder and then discovered the joy of stringed instruments. He played bass guitar with Hothouse Flowers as well as acoustic guitar, mandolin and bouzouki. He has had the pleasure of playing and recording alongside some amazing musicians. Peter also writes, produces and teaches music and plans to record some solo music in the near future.
Eithne Ní Chatháin (singer, fiddle player, shruti box)
Kildare born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist; Eithne is steeped and deeply rooted in traditional music & song from an early age. She embraces her rich heritage whilst simultaneously branching out to explore her unique voice and sound. Performing under the alias Inni-K, she is known for her fresh style of indie-folk; weaving together voice, piano and ukelele together with percussionist Brian Walsh, and band. Her discography to date includes traditional song and fiddle album ‘Eithne’; and her Inni-K debut album is due for release in early
Cormac Begley (bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertinas)
Cormac is a concertina player who hails from a well-known musical family on the Dingle Peninsula. Musicians such as his father, Brendan, Tom ‘an Lord’ Ó Conchubhair, Marie McHugh and East Clare musicians have had strong influences on his music. He has recently completed a PhD in Psychology at NUI, Galway, where he researched the pressures experienced by adolescent males growing up in Ireland. He is the founder of the award winning ‘Tunes in the Church’ live concert series in Galway. To date, he has featured on two highly acclaimed recordings – the first with fellow concertina player, Jack Talty (‘Na Fir Bolg’) and the second, featuring his sister, Clíodhna (viola) and Páraic Mac Donnchadha (banjo) – ‘Tunes in the Church’.
Maitiú Ó Casaide (whistle, uilleann pipes)
Maitiú is an uilleann piper from Ranelagh, Dublin. He is one of the younger generation of the musical Ó Casaide family and his father Feargus, and uncles formed the band, ‘Na Casaidigh’. He learnt the whistle at Scoil Bhríde primary school and the pipes at ‘Na Píobairí Uilleann’ (NPU), and was further influenced by his days in secondary school in Coláiste Eoin – an Irish speaking stronghold of traditional music in South Dublin. He features on ‘The Rolling Wave’, a compilation album released by NPU of young upcoming pipers and is a member of the Irish folk band ‘The Bonny Men’ who have recorded two albums to date – ‘The Bonny Men’ and ‘ Moyne Road’.

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