Deep End of The Ford
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Deep End of The Ford


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After lunch it was up to St. patrick’s cathedral for the world premiere of Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s An Táin. This was a musical interpretation of the Ulster epic tale of An Táin from the book of Leinster, which tells of the Connacht king and queen’s war against Ulster and the young Cú-Chulainn’s attempt to defeat them. Lorcán put this to music and presented it in the spectacular surroundings of the cathedral.

Lorcán is one of the younger generation of Sean Nós singers and he sang the eight-parted story, the supporting musicians – Seán Óg Mac Fhirléinn on bass clarinet, Flaithrí Neff on Uilleann pipes/whistle, Martin Tourish on accordion, and Owen Neff on fiddle – echoed the story with atmospheric sounds that emphasised the moodiness and foreboding or energy and rage as needed. Once the initial sound balance issues were sorted, this settled into a compelling piece that engaged and enthralled with each twist and turn in the story. The supporting slide show of beautifully crafted illustrations gave visual clues for the non-Gaelic speakers, and there was some very clever use of loops recorded live and played back immediately to add depth and complexity to the music. At just shy of an hour this was a substantial piece that deserves to be heard more. - Piping Today

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral provided the spectacular background to the afternoon concert appropriately called ‘Pipes in the Cathedral.’

The highlight of this concert was the World Premier of a commissioned piece from the Cork singer Lorcan MacMathuna entitled ‘Tain Bo Cuailgne’, the ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley’ one of the great epic stories from the Ulster Cycle of heroic tales. Armagh was a most appropriate setting for the inaugural performance of this piece commissioned by Armagh Pipers Club and supported by a traditional Arts Award from An Chomhairle Ealaion/Irish Arts Council.

The words come directly from the Book of Leinster and the piece follows the action of the Tain through eight descriptive pieces sung by Lorcan MacMathuna. The story is one of the great epics of the Scottish and Irish Gaelic Oral tradition handed down through the centuries and finally written down by scribes in the first millennium. The story also survived orally throughout Ireland and Scotland right to the present day. This was a truly magical performance rising to the occasion and captivating the audience. The entire piece is controlled by MacMathuna’s spell binding singing which ranged from low chanting to full throated and powerful vocals that echoed through the Cathedral. The musical accompaniment of uilleann pipes, fiddle, saxophone and piano accordion also included pre-recorded electronic music. This was one of the never to be forgotten moments of the entire festival.
- The Living Tradition


An Táin (2012)



Deep End of The Ford are an experimental improvising compositional collective made of: Lorcán Mac Mathúna (voice); Seán Mac Erlaine (bass clarinet, saxophone, electronics); Martin Tourish (piano accordion); Eoghan Neff (fiddle and looping station); Flaithrí Neff (uilleann pipes, low whistles).

All of the members of Deep End of The Ford are highly accomplished musicians in their own fields who are drawn to exploration of the nature of improvisation in music. They have all undertaken postgraduate research on the topic and four of the members have obtained or are in the final stages of doctoral theses in music.

Deep End of The Ford combines musicians from diverse backgrounds who have found musical communion in an avant-garde approach while creating epic sound-scapes

As Ciarán Carson comments in his recent translation of An Táin “Much of the action in the Táin takes place at fords. …There are deep ends to these fords. In Irish mythology streams and rivers are liminal zones between this world and the Otherworld.” Deep End of The Ford delve the depths and currents of this ancient myth to create evocative music which, like the transcendent exploits of An Táin, exists on the boundaries of musical styles.