ALTAN 30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Altan have been long established as the best and foremost traditional Irish band to come out of Ireland.
This was recognized on November 7, 2006, when the Irish Government through An Post (The Irish Postal
Body), honoured Altan by issuing a postal stamp featuring the band.
This award showed Altan’s immense impact on recent Irish culture at home and abroad and the growing
popularity of Irish traditional music generally.
With their exquisitely produced award-winning recordings,their ground breaking ‘Island Angel’ recording
going to no.2 in the Billboard World Music Charts in 1993, ranging dynamically from the most sensitive
and touching ancient ballads all the way to the energetic foot-tapping reels and jigs, and their heart
warming engaging live performances, Altan have moved audiences from Donegal all the way to Tokyo, to
Sydney,Seattle and beyond.
Altan’s music is steeped in the rich and colourful heritage of County Donegal in the North West of Ireland.
Co. Donegal has a strong fiddling tradition from which Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Ciaran Tourish get
their inspiration and unique repertoire.
Mairéad is also from the Gaeltacht area of Gaoth Dobhair(A Gaelic speaking region) where she learned
many of the songs which Altan have recorded over the years.
Altan have been touring consistently since their genesis in the early eighties, when Mairéad and her late
husband ,Belfast flute player ,Frankie Kennedy decided to leave their teaching jobs and pursue a career
in music and tour the world with their friends.
With members Mark Kelly (guitar),Ciaran Curran(bouzouki). Daithí Sproule(guitar) Ciaran Tourish(fiddle,
whistles) and past members Paul O’Shaughnessy(fiddle) and Dermot Byrne(accordion0 and latest
member Martin Tourish (accordion), Altan have been to the forefront of traditional Irish music worldwide.
The Boston Globe wrote ,( Altan ) ”The hottest group in the Celtic Realm”. And the UK’s Q Magazine
wrote “The Red Crow is a triumphant statement of the virtues of the traditional approach” On their last
recording ‘The Poison Glen’(2012), Siobhan Long of The Irish Times wrote ”Altan have never sounded
better or tighter.”
Altan have always approached their music and arrangements with integrity and openness and have
strived to share their culture to new expanding audiences worldwide.
On this new recording , “The Widening Gyre” their spiral of music expands , envelopes and includes
friends and music that they have met on the road over their 30 years of touring professionally.For this
recording. during the summer of 2014 ,Altan went to the hub of country music, Nashville in Tennessee
.There ,they set up camp in Compass Records own studios and co-produced this album with their friend
Garry West of Compass Records and engineer Sean Sullivan.
They wanted to try a new, fresh approach to recording and reflect how they have widened their musical
horizons over their career and with the help of Garry produced “The Widening Gyre”, the title being a
reference from W.B.Yeat’s poem ‘The Second Coming’.
Over their time there, they invited and collaborated with their long time musical friends Tim O’Brien,
Alison Brown, Darol Anger, Jerry Douglas, Jim Higgins. Bruce Molsky,Tod Phillips, Mary Chapin
2017 sees Altan celebrate 30 years on the road. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh the lead singer of the band has
just been announced as the Gradam Ceoil TG4 Traditional Musican of the Year Award which she was
awarded it at the televised awards ceremony in February 2017. Altan kick off the year with a show in
Dublin Castle as part of the Temple Bar Trad Fest, followed by a Show at Celtic Connections in Glasgow
Carpenter, Natalie Haas, Garry West, Julee Glaub Weems, Kenny Malone, Mike McGoldrick, Eddi
Reader,and Stuart Duncan.They jammed and recorded in the studio and produced tracks that
spontaneously evolved as they chatted over coffee. Tracks like Buffalo Gals, Leather Britches and
Leslie’s Reels; Thomasino, Some song suggestions came about the same way, songs like Gypsy Davey
which is a version of the House Carpenter and No Ash Will Burn, has led to a very different recording
from Altan but which still retains their roots in Irish Traditional music.