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22 Jan 2022

Celebrating 50 years of Skara Brae on RTÉ RnaG

Album presented traditional songs of the Donegal Gaeltacht in a new and contemporary way

Celebrating 50 years of Skara Brae on RTÉ RnaG

The album Skara Brae was released fifty years ago this month, in December 1971, and on Friday December 17, Barrscéalta on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will mark the occasion with a special programme about that seminal album with members of the group in studio. 

Maighreád and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, their brother Mícheál, and their friend Dáithí Sproule recorded the album Skare Brae in one afternoon in 1971 and it was released on the Gael Linn label.  

The Ó Domhnaill family grew up in Co. Meath, but spent a lot of time in their father’s homeplace of Rann na Feirste, Co. Donegal. Their father, Hiúdaí Mhicí Hiúdaí, was a musician, a singer and collector of songs, and they grew up immersed in the language and the culture of the area, with their aunt Neilí imparting much of her huge store of songs to them.  They met up with Dáithí Sproule, a young musician from Derry, during his many summers in the Gaeltacht in Rann na Feirste, and together, they became Skara Brae and recorded their one, exceptional album in 1971.   

The album presented the traditional songs of the Donegal Gaeltacht in a new and contemporary way, with guitar accompaniment and vocal harmonies, and paved the way for many more bands who followed.  The band was young, they were all in their mid to late teens/early twenties, and their own musical influences at the time, such as The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Pentangle, played a part in what would become their unique style and sound.  The album was a great success, and continues to be sought after, with sales of approximately 10,000 copies to date.  

On Barrscéalta on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Friday 17 December at 11 am, Michelle Nic Grianna will be joined by sister Maighréad and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, by Dáithí Sproule on the line from the US, by Jim McCloskey who also played with the band, and by Antoine Ó Coileáin, CEO of the Gael Linn music label, to discuss that ground-breaking album, and all that has happened since.   

Tune in live or listen back at www.rte.ie/rnag 

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