Friday 23 March 2018

Traditional Irish folk, with a hint of Led Zeppelin

John Meagher

John Meagher

Tir Na nOg

(Cherry Red Records)


In the early 1970s, the Irish pair Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly excited a lot of people with their visionary fusion of Irish trad and progressive rock, including the late BBC DJ John Peel, who had them play a session on his influential programme.

Between 1971 and 1973 they released three albums, Tir Na nOg, A Tear and A Smile and Strong in the Sun which demonstrated their desire to rework the boundaries of this country's folk tradition.

One of their admirers, David Kitt, put it well some years ago when he praised their mix of "Irishness, folk and Led Zeppelin".

A listen to the re-released albums 40-odd years later reveals them to be of their time and cut from much the same cloth as that of those prog-folk stalwarts Jethro Tull, with whom they once toured.

Strong in the Sun may be their most mainstream album to modern ears, but it is the innocent, wistful self-titled debut that has retained its charm most successfully and on the Condell-penned Time is a Promise and the O'Kelly written Daisy Lady, the duo's talents were palpable.

Tir Na nOg haven't released an album of new material since but are still a going concern on the live front and both Condell and O'Kelly have enjoyed long and prolific solo careers.

KEY TRACKS Time is a Promise; Daisy Lady

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