Here Angela gives a run-down on the origin of each of the tracks on “The Gort Mile”…
1. The Love of Lucia/Cranman/Conaill’s Favourite (Jigs)
I wrote the first jig for my friends, Maria and Ian Bowens, to celebrate the birth of their first child, Lucia. The second jig is a composition of Arty McGlyn’s, which he wrote for his relative from Cran, near Omagh. I learnt it from guitarist, Joe Bardwell, on his return from a trip to Cork. The last tune I wrote for my youngest son, Conaill, who‘s a fine bodhrán player. He was taught in Manchester by the maestro himself, Mr John Joe Kelly.
2. The Gillaroo/Rúadhán’s (Slow Reels)
The first tune was written by the great fiddle player and composer, Maurice Lennon. I learnt it from Mike McGoldrick, after he played with Maurice in Chicago. The Gillaroo is a type of trout, unique to Lough Melvin in North Leitrim. The second tune I wrote for my nephew, Rúadhán Goodwin, who’s a promising little whistle player.
3. Cillian’s Step/Kitty’s Twelve Roses/The Gort Mile (Jigs)
I wrote the first jig for my nephew, Cillian McMorrow, on the day he took his first steps. The second Jig is dedicated to my Grandma, Kitty Usher, who was an amazing lady and lived into her 100th year.
She had twelve grandchildren, whom she called her twelve roses. The Gort Mile is dedicated to my Grandad, John Joe Lally, as he won this race in the early 1920’s.
4. Thomond Bridge/The Jug of Punch/Trip to Durrow (Hornpipe/Reels)
The first tune is named after a historic bridge in Limerick. I originally learnt this tune from a recording of Sean Smyth’s, taken from his album, ‘The Blue Fiddle’. The second tune is a traditional reel that I learnt from the playing of the Kane sisters. I was taught the third tune in my early teens, by the Manchester accordionist, Eamonn O’Neal and it was always a favourite of my Dad’s.
5. Lollie’s (Waltz)
Alan Kelly is the composer of this lovely waltz. He wrote this tune for his Nan and recorded it with The Alan Kelly Gang, on their album, ‘Small Towns and Famous Nights’.
6. The Sanderling Sessions/The Old Creamery (Jigs)
I composed the first tune for the Grady family. The Grady’s were next door neighbours of my grandparents and it was Margaret Grady who first encouraged me to take up the banjo. The tune is named after Paddy and Angela’s house. The second tune I wrote for my sister, Claire and her husband Jonathan, who live in The Old Creamery, Dromahair, Co. Leitrim.
7. Landslide (Song)
My daughter, Gráinne, sings lead vocals on this track. She first heard Landslide recorded by the Dixie Chicks, but the original was written by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. Stevie wrote the song in Colorado whilst wondering whether to carry on with her music career, after her album had been dropped by her record company.
8. The Ookpik Waltz
This is a composition by the Canadian fiddle player, Frankie Rodgers. It’s also known as the Canadian Waltz. I first heard it recorded by Altan on their album, ‘Another Sky’.
9. The Lick of the Slipper/Jessica’s Joy (Slip Jigs)
I wrote the first slip jig for my good friend Geraldine Kennedy. The second tune is written for Jessica Hindley, who danced for the Lally School in Manchester. I wrote the tune in 2012 when Jessica won the All Ireland. She has since gone on to become the Senior Ladies World Champion, under the Carey Academy, Birmingham.
10. Jamesy Gannon’s/Over the Moor to Maggie (Barndances/Reel)
I first heard these two barndances played by the banjo master, John Carty, at the 2017 Fleadh in Ennis. They were originally recorded by Michael Gorman and can be found on the recording, ‘The Sligo Champion’. The third tune is John’s lovely two part version of this old traditional reel, which he says is inspired by the Leitrim Flute player, John McKenna.
11. Hurry the Jug/Sally Gally (Set Dance/Jig)
Hurry the Jug was the first set dance I learnt to dance as a young child. My great friend, Fiona Browne, taught me the second tune. It’s a composition of Damien Connolly’s which he wrote for his wife and recorded with the band Téada.
12. My Maryann/Johnny Harling’s (Reels)
I learnt the first reel from the playing of the great box player Billy McComiskey. The second tune is a composition of the very talented fiddle player, Liz Carroll’s. I’ve put these tunes together as I spent endless hours listening to their band Trian in the 1990’s.
Musicians on the album:
Angela Usher – Tenor Banjo on all tracks, Whistles on all tracks except track 6, Concertina track 5, Tenor Guitar tracks 5,6 & 8, Mandolin tracks 5 & 9.
Matt Griffin – Acoustic Guitars on all tracks except tracks 7 & 10, Electric Guitar track 8
Mike McGoldrick – Flute tracks 9 & 10, Percussion track 2, Mandola Track 5, Jaw harp track 10
Colin Farrell – Fiddle tracks 5,6,7 & 8
John Carty – Fiddle track 10
Michael Coult – Flute track 4, Low Whistle track 6
Andy Seward – Double Bass tracks 1,2,3,5,6 & 8
James Mackintosh – Percussion tracks 1,5 & 6
Jim Murray – Guitar track 7
Paul Cowham – Guitar track 10
Conaill Durcan – Bodhrán track 1,2 & 9, Percussion track 9
Gráinne Durcan – Lead Vocals track 7
Sheila O’Sullivan – Backing Vocals track 7