New album of slow airs: Farewell to Music


Photograph & artwork by Maurice Gunning

Thanks to the gentle but persistent persuasion of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, in 2009 – before I retired from playing professionally due to a tremor in my hand – in the charged atmosphere of St Audoen’s Church in Dublin’s historic neighbourhood of the Liberties, just down the road from where I live, under Caoimhín’s expert guidance, I spent a few days playing nothing but slow airs, digging deep into the fertile soil of those beautiful, plaintive, moving melody-narratives of our great tradition, to see what I could find there, one last time. I owe whatever is good in the playing to Caoimhín’s insight and his presence in my mind during each note played.

With funding from the Arts Council, Caoimhín (with sound engineer, Kieran Lynch) recorded the results, and since then, with the help of Raelach Records and Jack Talty’s attentive ear, the many takes I did during those days have now become an album of my solo slow air playing.

After some changes of mind, I have called it, finally, Farewell to Music, and I offer it to you in all humility.

Yours in music,

Tony Mac Mahon, 2016

PS I am almost too embarrassed to say that a number of friends have come together and organised a concert in my honour to be held on Sunday, 20 November next in Dublin City Hall. There are more details available on the View Temple Bar website.


Scaoil Amach an Pocaide coverMy previous album, Scaoil Amach an Pocaide, is still available on Raelach Records and in record shops.

It is a live recording of a concert I did with the great Steve Cooney back in 2005 for the wonderful people of Spiddal.

It features 10 tracks:

  1. Cúnla, Na Ceannabháin Bhána, Cailleach an Airgid
  2. The Plains of Boyle, The Friendly Visit
  3. The Rolling Wave (An Tonn Reatha)
  4. Caoineadh Eoghain Ruadh
  5. Port an Bhráthar, Port Shean tSeáin
  6. The Battle of Aughrim (Cath Eachroma)
  7. The Wounded Huzzar
  8. The Garden of Daisies (Gairdín na Nóiníní)
  9. The Humours of Drinagh, A Trip to Athlone
  10. O’Neill’s March (Máirseáil Uí Néill)

This is a very special recording for me. The concert turned out to be a particularly on-form night for both Steve and myself, and formed the basis for the Kitchen Concerts series that we had going there in more recent years. Because of my recent Parkinson’s diagnosis it seems I will not be playing much or recording again, so this is the beginning of “a farewell to music” of sorts for me. I hope you will enjoy it.

I am very pleased to be working with Raelach Records on this and on the final album we have planned for next year, a selection of solo slow airs I recorded some years back.

I’ll leave the final, very kind and humbling words to our good friend Martin Hayes: “What could be better than hearing the combination of these two iconic musicians. This is a beautiful and profoundly heartfelt recording that anybody interested in Irish music should own.”

Yours in music,


You can purchase the album as a download on the Raelach Records website, here.


10 thoughts on “New album of slow airs: Farewell to Music

  1. Pingback: Tony Mac Mahon ~
  2. Been a long time waiting for this. Thank you Tony, for all your amazing music and your inspirational spirit.
    Barry Moore

  3. A shout from the rear-view mirror–greetings from Ennis! Thanks for putting so much of yourself into those tunes. They are a standard reference. Bravo.

  4. your music has meant so much to me for as long as I can remember ..go maire tú an chéad.
    From a struggling box player

  5. Tony.

    I have listened to your music over many years.

    A blast out of your past in Dublin 1963 .

    Still treasure your book of poetry.

    My blessings are with you .

    Keep the music alive in your heart cause you are very special

  6. Hi Tony,
    I am a long time admirer of your work.

    i am particularly find of an album realised in 1999 called “Music of Dreams”
    Track 13 is a two tune track called The Fair Haired Boy/The High Reel.
    It was played by yourself and Noel Hill. I have always been fascinated by the step dancing on the track.
    Would you re-collect at all what dancers these were. Was it a Clare Set by any chance?
    I’m hoping to learn the Clare batter and want to be able to step these steps heard on your track.
    Maybe if you ever recall the dancers involved i could ask them.
    Thank You for constantly lifting my soul.
    Best of health to you.

  7. Tony, so sad to hear you have given up music.It is musics and Irelands loss.I have always admired and listened to your playing and your music will be around for a long time.Best regards Tom Moroney

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