Ronan Regan & Irene Guckian, *Drumshanbows*: “A celebration of traditional music from Leitrim and the surrounding hinterland.”

This is a lovely album of dance music, played by Ronan Regan, a master fiddler and teacher, together with his playing partner, Irene Guckian, a fiddler who has a string of awards and honors. Almost all of the compositions are traditional tunes from Co. Leitrim; the rest are compositions by Ronan himself (the notes in the booklet and on his website — — will tell you which is which; it’s impossible to tell just by listening).

The tunes are played in strict dance-tempo, making them perfect for use as accompaniment to traditional dancing, with a lovely lilt and swing imparted by the fiddlers — characteristic, perhaps, of Leitrim fiddling, but here carried with such grace by Ronan and Irene that it’s going to be hard just to listen to the CD if you have any notion you can do Irish dancing yourself. It’s a challenge, even for a listener/would-be dancer whose skills may be a wee bit limited!

By the way — there are two slow airs presented here, breaking up the sequence of dance tunes. The first is a stately version of “O’Carolan’s Cottage” (cut # 6), and the other(#14) is an interesting combination of “An Coolin,” a well-known air also heard from Derry fiddlers, together with a recitation, “A Touch of the Master’s Hand,” composed by the late Myra Brooks Welch, and read here by Tommy Murray. I love the sentiment — the touch of a master’s hand reforms anything it touches, from the price of an old fiddle, to a human life — and of course the fiddling here, as it is in the rest of the album, is simply superb and tasteful.

It is, in the end, the fiddling, in harmony or unison, that marks this lively album. Of course, there’s only one way to find out if you agree or disagree with me, and that’s to buy the CD for yourself. You’re not still standing there, are you?

Ronan Regan teaches and shares Irish dance, Irish music and more through video and step by step guides.
  • The Digital Folk Life
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