AN exciting week lies ahead for Dún Chaoin native, musician and singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, who returns home from a tour of the United States to launch her ninth album in Dingle this Saturday.
'Ar Uair Bhig an Lae – The Small Hours' which will be officially launched in An Lab on John Street, brings the curtain down on what has been a transformative year for the internationally acclaimed singer, both on a personal and professional level.
Having sang and played traditional music at home in Dún Chaoin and in Siamsa Tíre in her formative years, Muireann completed an MA in Traditional Muisc Performance in UL in 2002 before joining the trad super group Danú in 2003 as a singer and flute player. Since then Muireann has played all over the world, for dignitaries in the USA, Canada, Jordan, Bulgaria and India, for various Taoisigh, Ministers and for President Mary McAleese.
She moved back to West Kerry with her husband Bill earlier this year following the birth of her daughter Sadhbh. "It has its challenges; Bill is still lecturing in UL and ' Mary I' during the week but we're making it work. If Sadhbh can get anything like the idyllic upbringing I had in Dún Chaoin, I'll be very happy," said Muireann.
"I have returned to the source where I got all my music in the first place. It inspired me to record my new album, which is all songs, some of which I have been hanging onto for some time."
One of the songs on 'Ar Uair Bhig an Lae' - 'An Chiúrach Bhléinfhionn' - was given to Muireann by a lady named Cáit Ní Riain after her move to Baile Bhoithín. "Cáit's ancestors were from there and 'An Chiúrach Bhléinnfhionn' is a song written about a 'síbín', which some say was in the house we are currently living in!" she explained.
According to Muireann, having Gerry O'Beirne move to Dingle set everything in motion for the new album and the O'Leary-Duggan Family were kind enough to allow her to use their house in Baile Bhiocáire, Dún Chaoin as a place to record.
"I had used studios up to then so it was an amazing experience to record looking out on Inis Tuaiscairt," said Muireann. "I had an amazing team around me during the recording process; engineer Ivan O'Shea, guitarist and engineer Donogh Hennessy, musicians Gerry O'Beirne, Michael Rooney, Mick Kinsella, Oisín McAuley and Liam Flanagan, not to mention my husband Bill on bodhrán. Sadhbh was also there for the recording."
Muireann will join a host of Ireland's musical luminaries, including Imelda May, on Geantraí na Nollag which will honour the late Barney McKenna of The Dubliners and will air on Christmas Day on TG4.
"I really enjoyed interviewing Imelda May, we had a nice time swapping baby stories backstage!" said Muireann.
The album will receive its official launch this Saturday at 5pm in Dingle Arts' Centre, An Lab. The CD will be launched by Dr. Tríona Ní Shíocháin, followed by a short concert and refreshments.