TRADITIONAL singer and violinist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh will take fans on a journey from her childhood to her rise to musical fame in the first episode of a new series of a popular music show that airs this weekend.
TG4’s flagship series, Sé mo Laoch, begins its twelfth season on Sunday, September 12.
“Music is what nourishes me. It is like food, water and prayer. It uplifts me, ”said Ms. Ní Mhaonaigh, from Donegal, who stars in the first of five shows, which features some of Ireland’s best representatives of traditional music and song.
The opening program sees viewers travel with Ms. Ní Mhaonaigh from her early school days under the watchful eye of her schoolteacher and musician father, to the heartbreaking loss of her soul mate Frankie Kennedy and her rise to international fame as a member of the famous Altan.
Featuring contributions from current and former Altan band members, musician Paddy Glackin, and longtime friends Tara Bingham and Dermy Diamond, the program explores the revolutionary nature of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s role in the band and acknowledges the debt that young women musicians owe him for breaking borderline traditions.
“Mairéad has shown other musicians that they don’t have to be content to be on the sidelines, that they can take center stage,” said former Altan member Paul O ‘ Shaughnessy in the program.
“I never considered myself to be a woman when I was playing,” reveals Mairéad.
“When I played music, I played music. I remember a woman telling me that she had the violin taken off when she started learning to play, and then I realized how supportive my father Francie had been. She adds.
At the heart of Ms. Ní Mhaonaigh’s story is her creative partnership with her husband Frankie Kennedy and her death at the age of 38.
With a record-breaking $ 1 million contract for Altan secured just before his death, his wife had no choice but to continue touring and performing.
It wasn’t until she had her daughter Nia a few years later that she decided to return to Donegal and raise her child through Irish, surrounded by the music she loves.
“Mairéad and Frankie really understood that the local music she played was special,” Paddy Glackin recalls on the show.
“And when people talk about the Tír Chonaill tradition, they inevitably mention his name,” he adds.
Ms. Ní Mhaonaigh’s enduring passion for music from her home country has led her to join forces with fellow Donegal performers Moya Brennan, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill as a member of T with the Maggies.
She also plays a central role in the family group “Na Mooneys” and is part of Donegal’s all-female fiddler group “The Sí Fiddlers”.
The program includes numerous performances, including a remarkable rendition of I wish my love was a red red rose, and other contributions by Mark Kelly; Mairtin Tourish; Ciarán Curran; Steve Cooney; Manus Lunny; Nia Byrne; Anne Mooney; Gearóid Ó Maonaigh, and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill.
Other ‘Sé mo Laoch’ programs from the latest TG4 series will feature lilter Séamus Fay from Cavan, mouth organs John and Pip Murphy from Wexford, and vocalists Áine Uí Cheallaigh and Kevin Conneff from the Chieftains.
Sé mo Laoch will air on TG4 at 9:30 p.m. on Sundays starting September 12.