Amhráin na Nollag


A sleigh-ful of favourite Christmas songs sung in Irish by Róisín Elsafty and played on pipes, flutes & whistles by Ronan Browne, with keyboard accompaniment by Tony Maher. 

Singer Róisín Elsafty and musician Ronan Browne have joined forces for a Christmas album, Amhráin na Nollag – Favourite Christmas Songs in Irish.  The album, which features keyboards by Tony Maher of the Conquerors, contains traditional Irish songs like Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil and An Chéad Noel, as well as many other classics such as Jingle Bells and Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer, translated into Irish by Róisín’s mother, Treasa Ní Cheannabháin. These are lovely gentle renditions of favourite carols and they make for ideal family listening, thanks to Róisín’s pure voice and Ronan’s flutes, pipes and whistles, continuing a long-time musical collaboration between the two.  Amhráin na Nollag was recorded in Ronan’s studio, An Tobar Fuaime, in Spiddal.     —Connacht Tribune 18 December 2015



Go Teolaí sa Máinséar (track 9)

Christmas Instrumental Medley (Hark The Herald Angels Sing, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, track 10)

  1. An Chéad Noel
  2. An Drumadóirín
  3. Ar Bhreith Naíonáin
  4. Cloigíní
  5. Ding Dong Merrily on High (Instrumental)
  6. Oíche Nollag
  7. O Holy Night (instruemental)
  8. Litir chuig Santaí
  9. Go Teolaí sa Mainséar
  10. Hark the Herald Angels Sing / God Rest you Merry Gentlemen / Good King Wenceslas (instrumental)
  11. Cuireadh do Mhuire
  12.  Adeste Fideles (instrumental)
  13. An Ghlóir
  14. Tá Aistear Fada Romhainn
  15. Walking in the Air (instrumental)
  16.  Rudolph na Sróine Deirge
  17. Dia do Bheatha, a Naí Anocht
  18. Tá Sé Beirthe Naomh-Aon Dé
  19. Oíche Chiúin
  20. Don Oíche úd i mBeithil

the bright young folk review

I’m going to get this out there straight away – I love Christmas! A barrel load of festive tunes is never going to fail to float my boat, but in this day and age of endless Christmas records is there anything out there that’s still fresh and interesting? Well, in the case of Irish language duo Roisin Elsafty and Ronan Browne, teamed up with Tony Maher, the answer is a resounding yes!

Supported by longstanding publishers of Irish language media, Cló Iar-Chonnacht, they’ve put together a gargantuan 20 tracks mixing traditional festive tunes from Ireland along with a glut of old favourites, lovingly translated into their native language. Some you’ll recognise, some you’ll hear for the first time, but for the most part you’ll enjoy every minute.

If you’re wanting something to rock out to during your festive celebrations then you may be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a record to share with your family whilst snuggled up with a hot chocolate and the fairy lights on then look no further. Cloigíní (Jingle Bells) and Rudolf na Sróine Deirge (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer) in particular have a beautiful, lullaby quality to them that all children will love to nod along to.

For the more discerning of us that like a carol or two there’s medleys featuring Hark The Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen amongst others. Don’t expect any Kings College-esque belting out of the lyrics though – these again are realised with splendid calm and delicate beauty that will delight those sat around the Christmas Dinner table.

The whistles and flutes of Ronan Browne are ably assisted by the piano of Tony Maher throughout and Roisin Elsafty’s vocal is as good as anyone from the Emerald Isle. Perfect for Christmas music.

Of the tunes you might not be familiar with Dia do Bheatha a Naí Anocht is a stunning piece of music; a tender melody that is arguably the high point of a wonderful collection of songs. Gather round, fill up a glass and celebrate Christmas as never before.

Nollaig Shona to one and all.

Rob Fearnley review

I recommend this CD of carols/songs in Irish by Róisín Elsafty and Ronan Browne. There are 15 vocal tracks (by the exotically-named, with an Egyptian father and Connemara mother, and beautifully-voiced Róisín) and five instrumental tracks (by the piper Ronan Browne).

Some of the carols already had Irish versions; otherwise they have been translated by Róisín’s mother, Treasa Ní Cheannabháin. One wouldn’t have thunk it possible but Jingle Bells (Cloigíní – Little Bells) and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rudolph na Sróine Deirge – Rudolph with the Red Nose) sound fresh and neat in Róisín’s lovely-accented dialect with bell-clear Connemara Irish. And there is a cute original track in the form of a letter to Santa Claus from a kid who signs off, at the end of the song, as Joeín Sheáin Ó Fátharta (composed, according to the sleeve notes, by rural activist Pádraic an Táilliúra Ó Conghaile – Patrick son of the Tailor Connolly). The following is a translation of a few of the verses though it gives no idea of the rhythm or rhyme of the original:

Santa Claus, listen up
I’m not asking for much
A car, or maybe a train, for myself
And a big book-een for Cóilín
Nice dolls for Cáit and Tess
And a little teddy for Noeleen
He’s so small, he couldn’t give a damn
And so he doesn’t ask for a whole lot.

We just cleaned the chimney
‘Twas full of soot
It’ll be easy for you to get through
But keep an eye out for Louis
He’s not bad or anything of the sort
But he’s always barking
He hangs out at the edge of the hearth
That’s basically where he lives.
I don’t have much else to say
My eyes are closing
There’ll be carrots on the roof
For Rudolph and his friends
There’ll be coffee and a bit of meat
Left on a plate for you
So goodbye for now, Santa Claus
Joeín Sheáin Ó Fátharta.

Highly recommended for a fresh take on otherwise dreaded Christmas music (and I have no relationship with anyone involved).

Noel Fahey



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