Make the Circle Wide
The title is inspired by a line from "The Man from God Knows Where", a poem about Corkman, Thomas Russell, a United Irishman who went north to organize Presbyterians for the 1798 rebellion viz "We're a civil sort in our wee place so we made the circle wide". The concept captures a family desire to bond growing generations of evermore farflung descendants through sharing and recording their music and singing.
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The family circle encompasses the direct descendents of Michael (d. 1953) and Ellen McGrath (d. 1982) and their spouses and partners, living at times as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Zimbabwe and England. Two very successfsul craic-filled family get togethers were held in recent years in Dublin. Such was the enjoyment of music and songs of family members that it sparked in Brendan McGrath the idea of having them recorded on CD, harking back to a family tradition of house hoolies enlivened by party pieces.
With the generous financial backing of Brendan and Eamonn McGrath, this venture was given further impetus by the visit of musician cousins Fergus O'Byrne and Fergus Brown O'Byrne from Newfoundland. Fergus senior was a member of the well-known folk group, Ryan's Fancy, and a renowned folk singer in Canada for over 40 years. His son, Fergus, is an accomplished concertina and accordion player. Maurice McGrath, songwriter, musician and singer, added his original compositions to the family's repertoire.
The tracks recorded are a mix of traditional Irish ballads and tunes, songs from Newfoundland, Australia and America, and also feature three new songs by Maurice and a new instrumental piece by Stephen Murphy. Recordings were made in Westland Studios under the expert direction of sound engineers Alwyn Walker and John O'Kelly.
This CD has been simultaneously released in Ireland and Newfoundland, with a portion of the proceeds going to St. Francis Hospice in Dublin and the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre in St. John's.