ONE of Ireland’s most talented traditional singers will perform at Cnoc na Gaoithe in Tulla on Sunday night next (April 16).
For Elle Marie O’Dwyer, the concert, where she will be joined by Alan Finn and Conor O’Sullivan, offers a welcome opportunity to reconnect with Clare. The Cork woman was formerly Traditional Singer in Residence. That year-long role brought together Elle Marie’s ‘day job’ as a national school teacher and her talent for traditional song. The experience also coincided with the hosting in Ennis of two legendary All-Ireland Fleadhanna, making the Banner particularly close to Elle Marie’s heart. “Clare is divine altogether,” she said, “and there’s something so special about Ennis.”
Elle Marie also believes that Clare’s audiences here are particularly receptive. “Clare children just have such a deep appreciation of traditional singing,” she said. “I learned so many songs myself in Clare and have connections with The Chapel Gate Singers in Cooraclare. John Condon of the Spancilhill singing sessions is a Corkman and a great friend.”
It was in Clare that Elle Marie began her own songwriting. “My first song ‘Brave Ireland’ was inspired on some of my long drives,” she explained. “I’ll be singing that on Sunday night as well as ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, which I recorded with Liam O’Connor.”
Having recently released her fourth album, Elle Marie can trace her development from her debut ‘Where the Waters Flow’ in 2012 to ‘Reimagined’ in 2022. “It’s like a map of my music,” she said. “For my first album, I chose a lot of the old songs and the Fleadh ballads. My last album is the polar opposite. I’ve included some of my own songs as well as the really well-known and well-loved ones like ‘Caledonia’ and ‘Hard Times’. Covid was one of the things that changed what I sing. I was doing a lot of online concerts and needed a repertoire that people already knew. That’s when I fell in love of the work of Dolores Keane and Mary Black. My concerts still include the older songs, but the better-known ones are there too.”
Alan and Conor will also play tune selections on Sunday night and Elle Marie said she’s very much enjoying touring with them. “They’re both such talented musicians and great craic,” she said.
Elle Marie hails from the village of Freemount in North Cork. Her unique voice and her captivating traditional style have helped her to become one of the most recognised traditional singers. Singing since a young age, she has many All-Ireland titles and accolades to her name. She has performed on stages all over the world and shared performances with some of the best in the business, including Seán Keane, Cherish the Ladies, world-renowned accordion player Liam O Connor. the late Seamus Begley, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Karan Casey, Lumiére, Noirín Ní Riain and Joe O’ Connor.
The concert at Cnoc na Gaoithe on Sunday night gets underway at 8pm. Full details are available on Cnoc na Gaoithe’s Facebook page and other social channels.