Mná na hÉireann

By Macalla

Added by Kenny .

Four comments


I’ve no intention of listing the 23 female musicians playing on this recording, but it looks like a veritable "who’s-who" of the best women players in Dublin in the mid-1980s.
The songs were done in "choir" fashion, and that has never appealed to me much, but the tunes are great.
I think this recording was re-issued on CD by Gael Linn earlier this year.

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Re: Macalla, Mná na hÉireann, 1984, re-release on CD 2004

Looks like this recording is still available from Copperplate, price £13.99 for the CD according to their website (5th March 2020), see

Their page also has the full list of the names of the musicians, and some interesting background about the first release, back in 1984. Trust they don’t mind this extensive quote (given the above plug!):

"With the current movement for Fair Plé for women to be given their fair place among the trad music heirachy, we thought the climate might be more conjucive to this re-re-release. These 23 female musicians and singers got together to perform in Dublin for International Women’s Day in 1984. Thankfully they were recorded and released on LP by Claddagh in 84, and later on CD in 2004. Ages ahead of their time, this is a wonderful pean of pleasure which could only have come from the ladies. Many of the ladies involved have gone of to have international careers in traditional music and worldwide recognition.

This album women of Ireland is a collection of songs and tunes which celebrates a musical adventure which began in Dublin in 1984, It was then that more than twenty women came together to
express their music and their creativity as a group. No better day for it than March 8th, International Women’s Day. This was the first time in the history of Irish traditional music, or indeed the first time worldwide, that such a group came into existence.
Although all the women were based in Dublin they brought with them music from all parts of the country adding richness and interest to the overall sound of the band- They came from Clare, Galway, Wexford, Meath, Westmeath, Donegal, Belfast, Dublin, Kerry, and Cork. Having been invited by Gael Linn to record, much thought and energy were put into the choice of music and song for this collection.

Most of the women in Macalla were not well-known on the music scene when the band came together in 1984. Thankfully, such is not the case today! Everyone knows Mairead Mooney who has
earned international fame with Altan. No less well known is Mairin Fahy who has toured the world with Riverdance and Reeltime. Mary MacNamara founded her own music school in County Clare where she hands on the tradition to the younger generation. Catherine McEvoy is one of the world’s finest exponents of traditional flute playing whilst Mary Corcoran plays with the hugely popular Templehouse Ceili Band. Patsy Broderick has rightly earned her place as one of the best piano players in Irish traditional music. She was a also member of the well-known band Arcady. Joan McDermott went on to form another all-woman band The Fallen Angels with whom she travelled all over Europe and she is currently a member of Providence. Josephine Begley has forged a very successful career in broadcasting. She is also a wonderful sean nos singer and has recorded a solo album for Gael Linn, Ar Thaobh na Greine.

Since 1984 many of the members of Macalla have toured the world and recorded with various bands whereas others have opted to stay closer to home; they have all, nonetheless, remained true to the music they love.


Mary Mac Namara, concertina - Bríd McElvaney, fiddle - Clare Eustace, fiddle - Edel McWeeney, fiddle - Mary Corcoran, fiddle - Mary McElvaney, fiddle
Maureen Fahy, fiddle - Máire Ní Chaoimh, fiddle - Pearl O’Shaugnessy, fiddle - Roma Casey, fiddle - Siobhán Ní Chaoin, fiddle - Mairéad Ni Mhaonaigh, fiddle, vocals
Catherine McGorman, flute - Clodagh McGrory, flute - Siobhán Bhreathnach, harp, vocals - Patsy Broderick, piano, synthesizer - Joan McDermott, vocals
Mary Clare Breathnach, vocals - Nóra M. Ní Loingsigh, vocals - Róisín Gaffney, vocals - Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaoich, vocals - Ursula Kennedy, vocals -
Mairéad Ní Ghallchóir, vocals, bodhrán - Nicky Ryan, producer, engineer."

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