ANDY IRVINE – Abocurragh (Own Label AK-3)

Andy Irvine album review


A recording by Andy Irvine at any time should be heralded with a peel of trumpets but in addition to his own input what also makes for another significant CD for your collection is the company he chooses to surround himself with.

That company on the opening track of the often related “Three Huntsmen” just happens to be Donal Lunny, Liam O’Flynn and on accordion Mairtin O’Connor.

In the hands of a master craftsman the traditional tale of three huntsmen (one in particular) being outsmarted by a conniving witch of a woman has been told many times before but to be honest, who wouldn’t relish the chance to wallow in a nostalgic ‘Planxty’ type moment.

The following track “Willy Of Winsbury” (with the melody being composed by Andy yet often credited as traditional by the likes of Richard Thompson who plagiarised it for “Farewell, Farewell”) is a classic whichever way you look at it.

On top of this, there are contributions from a stellar cast of folk musician ‘friends’ including Bruce Molsky, Rick Epping and Annbjorg Lien among them. With time-honoured stories that wouldn’t seem out of place in today’s ‘red tops’ including The Sun, the songs are treated with gravitas by Irvine whilst his own brilliant story-telling should be required listening by anyone who has a conscience.

In this respect “The Spirit Of Mother Jones” eloquently states his opinion for a wronged militant agitator Mary Harris (originally from Cork) who fought for the rights of migrant workers in America.

It’s a great piece of writing that on reading the sleeve-notes makes you want to find out more about this fascinating character. This is an album that will not only engage you by its all-encompassing splendour but also hopefully make you think about everyday life and the consequences paid by the few who have tried to make a ‘real’ difference. David and Nick please take note!