Ceoltóirí Cualann

Since their first album in 1963, the Chieftains have gone on to release over thirty albums. Some of the individuals who became known as the Chieftains were also members in the revolutionary group, Ceoltóirí Cualann, lead by Seán Ó Ríada. Ceoltóiri Cualann was the vehicle that allowed them to develop and hone their skills before the genesis of the Chieftains.

Seán Ó Ríada, a native of County Cork, was born as John Reidy on August 1, 1931. During the 1950's, he took the Irish form of his name, Seán Ó Ríada. He was a multi-faceted person and his many faces included accomplishments as a director, performer, composer, educator and broadcaster. He was formerly the head of Music at the University of Cork to great acclaim.

One of his greatest accomplishments was the score to Mise Eire, a film about Ireland. During the 1950's, Seán Ó Ríada strengthened his commitment to preserving Irish music through a radio progam called Our Musical Heritage. On this program, Ríada presented the results of his and the Clare fiddler, John Kelly's, efforts to collect regional styles and extant songs.

One of his goals was to create an ensemble to play traditional music and Ceoltóirí Cualann was formed in 1961 and was originally made up of Martin Fay and John Kelly on fiddles; Sonny Brogan and Eamon de Buitlear on accordions; Michael Tubridy, flute; Paddy Moloney on pipes, Ronnie McShane on bones, Seán Ó Sé, vocals and Seán Ó Ríada on harpsichord and bodhran. Seán Keane and Peadar Mercier joined a short time later. One of the goals was to play Irish msuic in a different way and revive the music of the blind harper, Turlough O'Carolan and other composers. Ó Ríada is often credited with reintroducing the bodhrán back into Irish Music as a percussion instrument.

Ceoltóirí Cualann ceased playing with any regularity by 1969 but reunited to record two highly acclaimed albums, Ó Ríada and Ó Ríada Sa Gaiety, in 1969. The latter album was released after the death of Seán Ó Ríada in 1971. His death was widely mourned in Ireland and beyond.

Seán Ó Ríada and Ceoltóirí Cualann Albums
Battle of Aughrim
read by Richard Murphy and music by Seán Ó Ríada and Ceoltóirí Cualann
Claddagh Records, 1968? | CCT 7