Friday 20 October 2017

Review: Crania featuring Moya Brennan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

Crania featuring Moya Brennan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Crania featuring Moya Brennan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

The trailblazing opening night event for this year’s Temple Bar Tradfest isn’t strictly speaking in Temple Bar, but it is a riveting curtain opener nevertheless.

Crannua feature Clannad singer Moya Brennan, brothers Cormac and Éamonn De Barra, founder John Doyle and American singer songwriter Ashley Davis. They first played together at the Irish pavilion at the Expo in Milan in 2015. While they’ve yet to release an album, they’re already enough of a box office draw to fill Ireland’s largest and most historic church.

The opening act Vishtèn from Canada’s East coast deserve a special mention. The trio fuse French songs with Acadian folk to create a very modern blend of traditional music and the perfect amuse-bouche for Crannua, whose own name translates as “new roots.”

Crannua visit Moya Brennan’s Donegal heartland of Gaoth Dobhair with ‘An Crúiscín Lán’, a charming traditional song that translates as “the full jug” and also appears on Crann Ull, the first Clannad album to feature Moya’s younger sister Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, who later became better known as Enya.

Brennan’s latest venture also has a wonderful female foil in Ashley Davis, which furthers Crannua’s international dimension. Davis was born in Kansas but studied music at the University of Limerick. Harpist Cormac De Barra has been a long-standing member of Brennan’s solo band, and when he combines with Moya’s own harp, it is a very rare and incredibly special treat. 

Five voices, flutes, percussion and the guitar of John Doyle take the evening off into enchanted territory. It is still early days for Crannua, but it is heartening to see they are much more than just a one-off trad supergroup.

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