Musician Spotlight

Musician Spotlight

Cathie Ryan

As the child of Irish immigrants to Detroit, Cathie Ryan’s first exposure to Irish music was through the singing of her parents. Separated from their native land, music kept their ties to home strong. Ryan deepened her knowledge of traditional music during summers spent in Ireland with her grandparents, also avid musicians and storytellers. After moving to New York for college, Ryan recorded her first album with her now ex-husband, Irish musician Dermot Henry. In the 25 plus years since, Ryan has earned accolades as one of the leading voices in Irish and Americana music.

“Garden Valley” appeared on Ryan’s eponymous 2005 album, one of 5 solo albums to her credit. It’s a cover of a song written by beloved Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, who recorded his original version in 1998. McLean wrote the song while on tour and missing home, yet its theme of nostalgia and longing reflects the broader Scottish history of forced migration sparked by the Highland Clearances (1750-1860) when thousands of tenant farmers were evicted from their lands. “This is really not my home / And where are you, my lovely Jenny? / I’m afraid and all alone / There is no peace for me / But in the darkness, struggle, cold / I think about a garden valley / Gentle as the leaves unfold / Singing out along the Tay / Distant and so far away.”

Enjoy Cathie Ryan on our new release, Celtic Women!


Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola grew up on Inis Oírr, one of the Aran Islands in Western Ireland’s Galway Bay. As a child she was surrounded by traditional Irish music and could sing before she could even talk. Her songs have roots in the old sean-nós tradition, a complex style of singing usually performed in Gaelic a cappella. Lasairfhíona (pronounced Lah- sah-reena) released her debut album An Raicín Álainn in 2002, and quickly earned accolades for her gentle and accessible approach to traditional songs. She has since released two other solo albums of equal beauty.

“Dó Ó Deighdil Lom” is from Lasairfhíona’s latest album, 2016’s One Penny Portion. She learned the song from a recording by Connemara sean-nós singer Sorcha Ní Ghuairim (1911-1976). The ups and downs of the melody reflect the highs and lows of a suitor pining for her lover. It features James Nash on guitar, Máire Breatnach on violin, Jim Higgins on drums and Paul O’Driscoll on double bass.

Enjoy Lasairfhiona on our new release, Celtic Women!

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