Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Ty Bach - Tir Na Og/Sciobol

Ty Bach - Tir Na Og/Sciobol (Ceirnini Outlet OUT 062. 1975)

Thanks to Colm Mac Séalaigh for the update on Ty Bach

The background to the forming of this group was two week long visits by a group of Irish-language enthusiasts to the Eisteddfod (Welsh language festival) in 1973 and 1974. Gearóid Ó Murchú, Colm Mac Séalaigh and Ken Mac Diarmada were already playing and learning traditional songs in Irish accompanied by acoustic guitar and mandolin. They were so impressed by what the Welsh were doing with regard to writing new material in Welsh in a modern style, that they decided to form a group and try to imitate the Welsh approach. The Welsh influence was so strong that they decided to call the new band Tŷ Bach from the Welsh for ‘little house’ or ‘bathroom’.

Having put a repertoire of songs together, on the advice of friend and poet/songwriter Gabriel Rosenstock the band contacted Billy McBurney of Outlet Records in Belfast. The result was the recording of Tŷ Bach’s one and only album called Téanam Ort (‘Let’s Go’). The songs on the album are a mixed bag of traditional songs, tunes borrowed from Welsh with new lyrics in Irish and newly written songs by Gabriel Rosenstock and Eugene Maloney and Aodh Ó Domhnaill.

Soon after the release of Téanam Ort, Ken Mac Diarmada left the band to join up with Aodh Ó Domhnaill’s group called Na hUaisle who had a regular slot on Irish language television programmes.

Ó Murchú and Mac Séalaigh continued on as a two-piece and played as Tŷ Bach at Irish language events organised for young audiences, and at the same time trying their hand at writing new material in Irish, and trying out amplification of their instruments, something that was very rare in Irish language music in the nineteen seventies. On one occasion they were told midway through their set to ‘turn it down’ even though the young audience loved it!

Tŷ Bach played an eclectic set which included songs set to Welsh and Breton tunes (Mairéidín, Téanam Ort, Déanaimis Arís é), traditional Irish songs (‘Bhí Fear Laistiar in Allihees’, ‘an tSeanbhean Bhocht’ among them), newly written songs by Aodh Ó Domhnaill (‘1984’, ‘E.E.C.’, ‘Briotánach, Breatnach, Éireannach’) and Gabriel Rosenstock-Eugene Maloney (‘Scioból’, ‘Spéirling’, ‘Dul amú ort’, ‘Fíon Fionn na Gréige’), ‘An Damhan Alla’ a song by Conamara group ‘Na Cloigne Folmha’ (The Empty Heads), as well as a few compositions by Ó Murchú and Mac Séalaigh themselves (‘Róisín’, ‘An Grá atá Fíor’).

In 1974 Mac Séalaigh wrote the lyrics to which Ó Murchú added the final chorus of what was to become Tŷ Bach’s, and later Na Fírein’s, best known song Tír na nÓg. In 1975, Tír na nÓg, which took its tune from the Welsh hit Nia Ben Aur also based on the Ossianic tale of Oisín and Niamh in the “Land of Youth”, was released with Scioból (Rosenstock/Maloney) as a single on the Outlet label. It was to become a favourite among teenagers learning Irish in school and in Irish Summer colleges.

Although Tŷ Bach did not receive the same recognition as many of their contemporaries, probably due to performing exclusively in Irish and to a certain naivety in their music, Mac Séalaigh and Ó Murchú continued in their efforts to produce a contemporary sound using Irish lyrics for some years. Eventually, the opportunity to perform and write rock songs came with an invitation from Séamus Ó Maitiú to participate in a Celtic Rock Festival to be held in Rath Chairn in County Meath in 1984. In order to strengthen and deepen their sound, Mac Séalaigh invited his cousin Eoin Smith and his fellow rockers Mick Brady and Franny McBride, to back Tŷ Bach for the festival. The result was the formation of a new rock band, Na Fíréin, Ireland’s and the Irish language’s one and only band to write, perform and release records in the rock genre in Irish for any significant period. Between 1984 and 1996, and intermittently since then, Na Fíréin have gigged all over Ireland and released two albums and two single records.

Tŷ Bach
1974 ‘Téanam Ort’ fadcheirnín Ty Bach Outlet Records
1975 Tír na nÓg / Scioból. Tŷ Bach. Ceirnín singil. Ceirníní Outlet

Na Fíréin
1986 ‘Sin mar a Bhíonn’ LP and cassette (Gael Linn)
1986 ‘Deireadh na Seachtaine’ / ‘Dúnta i nGrá’. Single (Gael Linn)
1986 ‘Sin mar a Bhíonn’ / Tóg Mé’. Single (Gael Linn)
1990 ‘Beagáinín níos Fearr’. Albam on cassette (Gealt)
1991 ‘Na Fíréin’. CD of 20 best songs (Gael Linn)

Tír na nÓg


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Welsh folk rock from the 70s!