The Oban Times
Tiree Songbook launches
An album of songs from the Isle of Tiree was launched this month, just before it clinched the Community Project of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
The Tiree Songbook was originally commissioned by The Tiree Association for A’ Bhuain 2016, Tiree’s Homecoming Week for island descendants worldwide.
The new live and studio album is composed of material performed at both the A’ Bhuain Finale Concert in An Talla, Tiree, in May 2016 and at the Celtic Connections ‘Tiree Songbook’ Concert in the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, in January 2017.
The album celebrates songs from Na Bàird Thirisdeach, the definitive 20th century collection of songs from Tiree, alongside more recent compositions from the island, including songs by Flora and Angus MacPhail and Niall Brownlie.
Additionally, the album also recognises the great piping tradition in Tiree by bringing together some of the island’s wellknown piping families to play some of the famous tunes and brilliant new compositions written by and about islanders.
Included on the album is the late Bernard Smith’s final public performance at Celtic Connections this year, recorded just a few months before he passed away. Alongside the house band, Bernie was joined that night by Angus MacPhail, Daniel Gillespie and Campbell Brown, and this track stands as a fantastic legacy of a very well-known and much-loved man.
The Tiree Association said before the awards ceremony: ‘It’s a real honour that the project has been nominated as we’ve put a lot of hard work into this over the past two years or so.’
The album’s musical creators, Donald-Iain Brown, John Campbell, Mary Ann Kennedy and Ian Smith, wrote jointly: ‘The blue book of Na Bàird Thirisdeach has been part of our lives since we were born. If we didn’t receive it as a Gaelic prize at school, it was certainly on the bookshelves in our homes and from an early age, and still today, it is a point of reference for us leafing through its pages to sing many of the clever and insightful lyrics composed by our forebear poets.
‘It has been uplifting and the greatest privilege for us to take those lyrics and tunes and to create this CD. And to highlight that the bardic craft is still practiced, we have included two songs from three of our 20th and 21st century poets – Flora and Angus MacPhail, and the late Niall Brownlie. There is no way that we can repay the bards of yesterday and today for the wonderful words they have shared with us.
‘Beyond our bardic tradition, Tiree has been synonymous with the playing of the bagpipes and it was our great pleasure to bring together our pipers who are connected by two locations and families – the Cachaileith (Sinclairs) and Corrairigh (Campbells) – our Cachaileith to Corrairigh Pipers.
‘We cannot express how much pride and pleasure it has given us to bring together this CD, something that started with A’ Bhuain (The Homecoming) some 10 years ago. The concert that we had in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow in January 2017 was beyond special and will remain with each of us, for many reasons, for ever.
‘We hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed producing it.’