An Tobar Glé

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An Tobar Glé
Neil Mulligan

Review by Paul Carr The Irish Herald (U.S.A.)


Many years ago, An Tobar Glé was the name on a club owned by the great musician, storyteller, singer, and collector Séamus Ennis, nach maireann. Séamus Ennis was also teacher, mentor, and friend to a young piper named Neil Mulligan. It was Séamus Ennis who put the nickname Néillidh on him, from Donegal fiddler Néillidh Boyle.

Now, An Tobar Glé (The Bright Well) is also the name on the third brilliant solo CD from Néillidh Mulligan, who has since become one of the greatest uilleann pipers of our time.

To say that Néillidh’s use of ornamentation or the drones or his phrasing is a marvel of invention and a testament to teaching only begins to express the true beauty and quality of his playing.

For example, if the faster jigs and reels are your favorite, his playing will enchant. The best example of this might be “The Morning Thrush” and “Colonel Frazer”, two reels that show off the crispness and clarity of his faster playing, not to mention the bright, innocent playfulness that runs through so many Irish tunes.

If it’s slow airs that you are wanting, you have in Néillidh a master of the slow air. A particularly lovely one is “Caitríona Rua”, an air that he made himself as a tribute to his late mother from Co. Kerry.

The CD ends with two sets of utterly thrilling tunes recorded from Néillidh’s late father’s playing in 1982. Starting off with the unforgettable “Fermoy Lasses”, these roughly-recorded tunes escape out the pipes with the kind of wild, wide-eyed sound that only the best pipers can create. It puts one in mind of the old recordings of Johnny Doran, who played a wild “Fermoy Lasses” himself.

Galánta ar fad.

Paul Carr

The Irish Herald (U.S.A.)

Available at


UPDATE 21.4.04


Neil Mulligan

An Tobar Gle



The Piper Calls the Tune.

A protege of greats like Leo Rowsome and Seamus Ennis, not to mention his own dad, Tom. Neillidh Mulligan is steeped in the greatest traditions of ulleann piping.

His third album, An Tobar Gle (The Bright Well) proudly maintains these rich traditions with a masterful display of top tunes.

In an age of hybrids and cultural crossover, it's also refreshing joy to hear the pure art of the musician. 



Review of An Tobar Glé by Patrick D’Arcy in

The Piper’s Review

This is essential piping faire for any traditional Irish musician, be they pipers or not.  Neil’s playing is exactly as he wants it to be, passionate and respectful.  Everything is bare and exposed, yet full and complete.  His airs being of great significance to me.  One in particular is a great monument to his mother, Caitríona Rua.  His influences shine through, be they Seámus Ennis or his father Tom Mulligan.

One thing you don’t expect to see very often on traditional recordings are the incorporation of new tunes. On this CD there are a pleasantly surprising four new pieces of Néillidh’s own compositions.  One distinction often encountered with more recent compositions is that they are obviously new, but these tunes fit in so well with the older tunes that one can picture them being taken from an old manuscript.  This I feel to be a great testament to his own intimate understanding of the music with all it’s nuances and peculiarities.   He makes the pipes sound as old as they are, being custodian to a wonderful collection of heirloom sets.

Néillidh rounds things off with a couple of sets recorded by his brother Alphie in 1982.  Tom senior with Néillidh on the silver set Leo Rowsome made for Felix Doran.  Legendary in appearance and legendary in tone..

One element of the overall effect I really enjoyed was the inner cover and it’s selection of family photographs.  Among them, one with a very young Tommy Reck and one of a devilish, grinning Seámus Ennis.  Great stuff!


Patrick D’Arcy


Folkworld Review 27/02/2004

Neil Mulligan "An Tobar Glé"

“This is the pure drop from the well of tradition.”

Full review at:



The Journal of Music in Ireland Nov/Dec 2003

One of the driving influences in the development of traditional music is the process of transmission.
Maybe transmission is not always how it looks and feels at first hand - within the community of practitioners of traditional music, we often talk about getting things from others, we talk
of learning from others, We rarely say that we took anything from anybody. For us, things just get passed on deliberately or by chance, by somebody specific or by somebody who knows somebody,
yes, it does sound shady, We pick things up. Maybe from time to time they fall off the back of the proverbial lorry! The right time and the right place are important in this music. 

Only rarely does the idea of reciprocation come into it, although we do stray into this territory when we talk of being 'influenced by or 'following in the tradition of”. Some musicians will create
their own sound world around the music of one or more significant players who they were lucky enough meet. Some musicians will follow a path that is more or lest, mapped out by others whose music and musical attitude made enough of an impression on them, even from a distance in space of time, to determine their personal musical choices and direction into the future.

These ways into the transmission process are visible to a greater or lesser degree throughout the entire practise of traditional music, song and dance, in my view; they are especially prominent in a
few elements of the instrumental tradition and also in the song traditions of our two principal languages. Within the instrumental tradition, the amazing world of piping and pipering stands out.
 The particular culture around the instrument itself, the piperosity of its players, the way players influence and lead others, and the act of performance of music on this instrument all lend extra weight to standard notions of transmission and legacy.

ln this context, An Tobar Gle, the new album from Neil Mulligan, presses many of the right, buttons for me, nor least in the quality of the relaxed playing that Mulligan presents here.
He comes across as relaxed and confident to the extent that the pure musicality of performance takes precedence over any aspirations to faultlessness of performance and I think this works really well in this case. Listening to An Tobar Gle for the first time, I was struck by two things.

First, the extent to which Mulligan very comfortably inhibits what is an exclusive enough territory, and not one into which any piper wisely strays either unprepared or by chance - the Ennis school of piping. Choice of repertoire is only one indicator of Mulligan's debt to Ennis. What makes for much more interesting listening to my ear, is how Mulligan interprets other tunes ('other” meaning not from the Ennis canon) through the filter of Ennis's approach which is by far the strongest influence on his playing here.
On An Tobar Gle, we get a very clear sense or how Mulligan has internalised and re-expressed in his own voice, a particular approach to rhythm, ornamentation and overall sound that is clearly indebted to the Ennis school, with many shades of other influences as well. Frankie Lane's informed approach to the recording and engineering of An Tobar Gle also suggests a relaxed confidence - is it not about time that we were allowed to hear pipes being played enjoyably in a room sound just pipes being played enjoyably in a room.

The second thing that struck me was the graceful and respectful way in which Mulligan discloses his relatively privileged access to all of the significant routes into the transmission processes have made him the musician he is today.

The reason Mulligan is good is not simply that he knew anybody in particular, it’s that he knows exactly what it means to have known them and he has made musical sense of all of this. Aside from the solo piping which acts as a musical mirror Mulligan's development as a musician, there is a constant grounding effect in the notes to the performances. Everything has come to Mulligan from somebody somewhere and the way he sets about “owning up” to this adds immeasurably to the sense of authenticity that pours from his music.

Hence the inclusion of two sonically difficult tracks derived from home recordings of Neil and his father, Tom, which do jar on the ear on first hearing, but also explain much of the rest of the music on the album. The visual material in the liner notes are presented in a warmly conceived design by Edain O'Donnell and they reinforce the importance of the people who make and keep tradition alive and dynamic as any contemporary artform must be if it is to make sense.

I was delighted to hear four new compositions of Mulligan's on this album. These show another dimension to his musicianship - he is well aware of both the tradition and the limitations that go with the instrument, but he is game to tackle these to good effect, particularly in the air 'Caitriona Rua' and the reels An Tobar Gle' and 'Oilean na Meannain.

As an accurate musical portrait of a man who has given so much to piping and who has so much still to say, An Tobar Gle does the business. Dermot McLaughlin (Donegal Fiddler)



Sleeve not available



NEIL MULLIGAN "An Tobar Glé" Spring Records SCD 1049



Neil "Néillidh" Mulligan is a young-ish Dublin piper with quite a reputation these days. This is his third album, and his passionate unapologetic style has won him admirers the world over. Néillidh may lack the polish of the all-time greats, but he learnt his piping from the likes of Ennis and Rowsome so he knows his stuff. On this CD he plays a selection of great old pipe tunes, some deserving to be better known, as well as several of his own compositions. Néillidh is a particularly fine player of slow airs, and there are some superb examples here. 'A Stór mo Chro'í' is delivered in a beautiful understated style, as though nobody else was intended to hear it. Néillidh's unusual version of 'The Pretty Girl Milking the Cow' is powerful enough to send a shiver down your spine, with gorgeous earthy notes on the regulators. 'Dónal Óg'and 'Táimse i mo Chodladh' are both classic airs played with a depth of feeling all too rare these days.

There are reels, jigs and hornpipes aplenty too in these sixteen tracks. Some of my favourites are: 'The Gold Ring', 'I Buried My Wife and Danced On Top of Her' and 'The Stoney Steps', grand old tunes all three. The last is followed by a composition of Néillidh's, 'The Dooneen Reel', with strong resemblances to 'The Musical Priest'. Like everything else, the best way to get your compositions recorded is to do it yourself, and Néillidh also contributes a couple of fine jigs and the stunning slow air 'Caitríona Rua'.

The final two tracks are home recordings from 1982 featuring the father Tom Mulligan, surprisingly high quality sound and unmistakable depth of feeling on some great reels and jigs. But for me, the single most exciting moment on this CD is when Néillidh's music runs away with him on 'Colonel Frazer', a tune played by almost every piper but rarely with such flair and fire. It's the spark that matters: the technique follows after.

Alex Monaghan



Neil (Neilidh) Mulligan - An Tobar Gle (Spring Records, SCD 1049)

Pipers are few and far between. The task of mastering the instrument's intricacies and idiosyncrasy is beyond most musicians and consequently only a few, a devoted and courageous few, stick the pace.

Thank God Mulligan didn't take the path of least resistance, because An Tobar Gle shows what a consummate musician he is. There are no niches and alleyways in which to lurk as a solo musician. The "line of sight" into the piper's heart and soul is perfectly clear. We feel every shift in mood, every doubt, every worry, every up-welling of joy. Because music played at the level at which Mulligan operates is nothing to do with "the dots". Instead it's about communicating the tune, or rather his version of the tune, with all of its humours and notions, to the listener.

Some fine dance sets such as "East Of Glendart/I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her", "The Morning Thrush/Colonel Frazer" and "An Fainne Oir/Airgead Realach" are interspersed with tremendous airs, such as his moving version of "A Stor Mo Chroi" and a jaw-droppingly fine rendition of "Taimse im' Chodladh".

Mulligan is as good a writer of tunes as he is a player. "An Tobar Gle", "The Dooneen Reel "and "Oilean Na Meannain" are as infectious and memorable as any of the traditional material on the album and warrant becoming part of anyone's repertoire.

However the most beautiful of Mulligan's self-composed tracks on the album is a slow air dedicated to the memory of his mother.  "Caitriona Rua" is a fitting ode to a deeply loved and sorely missed mother.

Mulligan's love and respect for his family is demonstrated further.  The album contains two tracks on which Mulligan duets with his late father, Tom Mulligan - "The Fermoy Lasses/The London Lasses/The Rose In The Garden" and "Chase Her Through The Garden/Kiss Her In The Furze". Although recorded on primitive domestic equipment, the quality of the playing and the very obvious musical bond between father and son overcome any doubts about the technical aspects of the recording process.

This shockingly good album is available from the increasingly influential and consistently discerning Copperplate at

Pay The Reckoning, October 2003


Taplas Oct/ Nov 2003

The Welsh Folk Magazine



An Tobar Gle

Spring SCD 1049 (52m)


MULLIGAN is something of a purist's musician. His third CD of uilleann piping is, again, unencumbered by accompaniment.

Don't expect brazen virtuosity or fireworks either: Mulligan can rattle out the reels with the best of them, but his style remains measured and tasteful with a judicious use of ornamentation and variation that never draws attention to itself.

His three sets of pipes (including one made by Leo Rowsome for Felix Doran) are beautiful-sounding instruments and the varied choice of tunes is never arbitrary. As the sleeve notes explain, every tune, from well-known standards like The Gold Ring or Donal Óg to some

interesting ones of his own, is there because of some association or connection, sometimes to his late father, who as a musician was Mullligan's greatest influence, or one of the circle of players around Rowsome and Seamus Ennis.

John Neilson.


Tour de Force of Solo Piping


An Tobar Glé

Neil Mulligan(SCD 1049)


Traditional tunes are not merely dots written on a page or a set of notes issuing from a musical instrument.  They have a life of their own, independent of musicians and their instruments.  Some have long histories and have acquired new names and variations as they travel from player to player in a musical version of Chinese Whispers.

Some develop regional accents; others take on the character of individual players.  New tunes are being made all the time, but only a few make it through the collective quality control of the session.  Like all good musicians, Neil Mulligan, the Dublin Uilleann piper, appreciates that the provenance of a tune is as essential an aspect as the sequencxe of it’s notes.

An Tobar Glé, the third album from the Dublin uilleann piper, confirms the attitude set down in his previous collections, Barr na Cúille and The Leitrim Thrush.

Almost every set is associated with some musician or singer.  Central to Mulligan’s musical philosophy is the respectful and affectionate bond that he has created with players of the past.  His mentors form a distinguished group and include his father Tom, a Leitrim Fiddle-player who came to Dublin from Leitrim in the 1930’s, and the piping icons Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Leo Rowsome and Tommy Reck.  Taking it’s name from a weekly traditional club run by Séamus Ennis in Slattery’s of Dublin in the ‘70s, An Tobar Glé is a tour de force of solo piping.

What you hear is what you get. Most other musicians contemplating a ‘solo’ album will gather a team of like-minded players to provide support and the occasional safety net.  Mulligan takes a different approach.  To him, the pipes are the complete instrument.   The chanter provides the melody; the drones supply the low frequency foundation and the regulators add the harmony and other decorations.  What more could a player need?  The piping standard The Gold Ring gets us going, steady and stately, set off by some subtle regulator work.  The Morning Thrush – written by Séamus Ennis’s father Jim – is set alongside that other standard, Colonel Frazer.  Bímis ag Ól, based on the song beloved of the Cúil Aodhas, is played in Willie Clancy’s setting.

Three (sic) slow airs are included – A Stór mo Chroí, Dónal Óg and Mulligan’s own Caitríona Rua, a beautiful lament written in memory of his mother Catherine.  Several other tunes of his making are included elsewhere and, as one would expect from a musician with such a solid foundation in the tradition, each sits very comfortably with it’s more established neighbours.  An Tobar Glé closes with a pair of tracks from a home recording featuring Néillidh in duet with his father Tom made by his brother Alphie in the early ‘80s. The sound is hardly surprisingly rough but the music is mighty. 

The overall package is rounded off by a fine set of sleeve notes by Mulligan and a great design by Édaín O Donnell.  More at


Pat Ahern

The Irish Examiner





An Tobar Glé


Spring Records SCD 1049; 53 minutes; 2003


Neil Mulligan is a large man physically but cradles the uilleann pipes as though nestling a newborn baby in his arms. That delicacy pervaded his playing throughout his previous two albums (1991’s Barr na Cúille and 1997’s The Leitrim Thrush) and continues on An Tobar Glé (“The Clear/Bright Well”). The album takes its title from the name of a traditional music club run by Séamus Ennis in Dublin during the 1970s, where the young Neil (or “Neillidh” as Ennis nicknamed him, in honour of the Donegal fiddler Neillidh Boyle) and his father Tom, a notable fiddler, were among the resident musicians.


Though born and raised in Dublin, Neil’s music has always been inspired by the music of his father’s native County Leitrim, indeed he reckons that Tom (who died in 1984) was the source for many of his tunes. However, others on An Tobar Glé derive from musicians as varied as Willie Clancy, the Roscommon flute-player Peg McGrath, the Dublin piper Tommy Reck and, of course, Ennis himself, while Neil’s enduring affection for the sean-nós song tradition is encapsulated by his rendition of the slow air Táimse im’ Chodlach which he associates with Seán ‘ac Dhonncha.


The best of the airs on the album, however, is a tellingly understated rendition of A Stór Mo Chroí while, contrastingly, the reel The Morning Thrush demonstrates all Neil’s dexterity and mastery of the subtle use of the pipes’ regulators. All tunes, it should be noted, are played without any form of accompaniment.


Like its predecessor, An Tobar Glé ends with some archive recordings of Tom Mulligan, recorded a couple of years before his death. This time father and son duet on two sets of reels and, although the tape quality is obviously far from ideal, both tracks demonstrate the perfect congruence of their playing.


Finally, replete with informative notes on the tunes and plenty of archive photographs, the album’s beautifully designed liner should serve as a model for other small independent labels.


Folk Roots Music Magazine


Review By Philippe Varlet of Celtic Grooves

NEIL MULLIGAN: AN TOBAR GLE. Another excellent solo recording by the Dublin piper whose music, through his father fiddle player Tom Mulligan, is rooted in the Leitrim tradition. This is Neil Mulligan's third album, after "Barr na Cuille" and "The Leitrim Thrush," and like on those, the piping, on instruments pitched at C# and D, is unaccompanied. Mulligan tackles some of the great piping tunes, "The Gold Ring," "The Blackbird," "Colonel Frazer," the latter being preceded by a lovely rendition of the famous James Ennis reel "The Morning Thrush." Slow airs, including "A Stor Mo Chroi" and "Taimse im' Chodladh," are given a fair share as well. The last two tracks are home-made recordings of Mulligan playing with his late father Tom, and what they lack in sound quality is easily made up by how privileged one feels to be given a front-row seat to such an intimate moment.

Rating: ****

Philippe Varlet Hard-to-find imported Irish CDs <>


Photo's of Leitrim Launch of An Tobar Glé In Fitzpatrick's Ceillidh House, Mohill Co. Leitrim on 24th July 2003  by Paul Eliasberg

Article on  An Tobar Glé release – Foinse (Irish language newspaper )

Braon ón Tobar

An Tobar Glé is teideal don tríú dlúthdhiosca atá díreach eisithe ag an bpíobaire Neillidh Mulligan agus is oiriúnach an teideal é i mórán slite.  Ó thobar na máistrí, Leo Rowsome, Tommy Reck, Séamus Ennis agus a athair féin, Tom Mulligan, a d’fhoghlaim Neillidh ceird na píobaireachta agus an rian sin le cloisint ar an dlúthdhiosca blasta seo.  “An Tobar Glé an t-ainm a bhí ar an gclub a bhíodh ag Séamus Ennis san íoslach i dteach tábhairne Slatterys agus mar gheall air sin agus mar gheall gur bhásaigh Ennis bliain is fiche ó shin a bhaist mé an t-ainm sin air”, a dúirt sé liom.  Bhí an-tionchar ag Ennis ar an bpíobaire óg, “d’fhéadfá a rá go raibh Séamus ina rí ar an gclub seo agus Máire Áine Nic Dhonnchadha, amhránaí a raibh an-mheas agam uirthi, ina banríon aige, is ansin a phioc mé suas go leor poirt.  Ní haon ionadh go bhfuil bá faoi leith ag an Maolagánach don sean-nós mar is anseo agus i gConamara, áit a chaitheadh an chlann an samhradh ar an mBóthar Buí in Indreabhán, a thug Neillidh grá don amhránaíocht. Ceithre fhonn mhalla chomh maith le ceann a chum sé i gcuimhne a mháthar féin, ‘Caitríona Rua’, atá ar an dlúthdhiosca.

I stiúideo an amhránaí Frankie Lane i Ros Trevor a rinne Neillidh an taifead agus an-sásta go deo atá sé leis an bhfuaim.  “Is breá liom an fhuaim atá ar sheantaifid Willie Clancy agus rinne mé iarracht an rud céanna a fháil ar dlúthdhiosca seo.  Bhí cistin bheag ag Frankie le hurlár leice agus bhí sé díreach i gceart don fhuaim a bhí uaim.  Rogha fairsing d’fhoinn atá ar an albam seo, ina measc ceithre phort a chum sé féin agus seantaifead a rinne a dheartháir de Neillidh agus a athair ag seinm i dteannta a chéile.  Ar shlí na fírinne atá Tom le cúpla bliain anuas rud a fhágann gur rianta an-speisialta iad seo.  Chaith Neillidh dua chomh maith leis na nótaí cuimsitheacha atá ag gabháil leis an albam agus is cinnte go mbeidh siad mar áis iontach d’fhoghlaimeoirí agus saineolaithe araon.

Cá bhfaighfeá áit níos oiriúnaí ná The Cobblestone le halbam traidisiúnta a sheoladh agus bhailigh slua mór de chairde agus comhcheoltóirí Neillidh le chéile leis an ócáid a cheiliúradh sa teach tábhairne cáiliúil seo an tseachtain seo caite.  Mar is eol do lucht leanta an cheoil, is le deartháir Neillidh, Tom, an pub aitheanta seo atá suite i gceartlár cheann de na háiteanna is sine agus is suimiúla san ardchathair, Smithfield.  Dar ndóigh is as Co. Liatroma do shliocht Uí Mhaolagáin agus is é an file agus an scríbhneoir as an gcontae céanna, Vincent Woods a sheol an Tobar Glé.  Fear den sloinne céanna, léiritheoir an chláir The Living Note, Peter Woods a scríobh na nótaí agus bhí cúpla focal le rá aige siúd chomh maith.  Faoi mar a bheifeá ag súil leis bhí an áit ag cur thar maoil le ceoltóirí agus togha an cheoil le cloisteáil ó Neillidh agus a mhac óg, Fiachra (8), Seán Ó Broin, Harry Bradley, Carmel Gunning agus Tommy agus Jackie Martin agus go leor eile. 

An-ghnóthach ar fad atá Neillidh idir thurasanna agus scoileanna samhraidh faoi láthair ach tá an-fhonn air teacht anoir go Conamara, áit a chaitheadh sé samhraí a óige.  Seans, roimh dheireadh an tsamhraidh, a dúirt sé liom go mblaisfidh muintir Chonamara braon ón tobar (beo)! 

Tá An Tobar Glé le fáil ar Spring Records.  Tuilleadh eolais:


Review in Hot Press on 17th July 2003


Neil Mulligan

An Tobar Glé (Spring Records)


The third album by Dublin piper Neil Mulligan is as excellent as one would expect from this master musician.  There’s a splendid solidity and authority to his playing, particularly on slow airs like ‘ A Stór Mo Chroí’, ‘Dónal Óg’and the poignant ‘Caitríona Rua’, written by Mulligan after the death of his mother.  Other originals include the title track, a rollicking jig in honour of a folk club run by Séamus Ennis at Slattery’s in the 1970’s.  Like it’s predecessors, the CD features pure unadulterated solo piping – which is just as well, as any accompaniment would have been rendered superfluous by Mulligan’s adroit use of his instrument’s full range, complete with drones and resonators.  Extensive notes on the jacket tell the stories behind the tunes and reveal the writer’s affection for the music.


Sarah McQuaid


Review by

Síobhán Long of The Irish Times  Thursday July 3rd 2003

Neil Mulligan

An Tobar Glé Spring Records ****


Piper Neil Mulligan is back, as exuberant in his playing as ever. His taut rendition of The Morning Thrush and Colonel Frazer is a tribute to their original caretakers, Seamus Ennis and his father Jim, and a fitting bedrock underpinning a rake of fine tunes that shimmy between his armpit and dancing fingers. Rhythm masters of any hue would do well to cock an ear to I Buried My Wife and Danced on Top of Her, not for and Soprano-esque top tips, but for a taste of  how organic time-keeping can soar. Mulligan’s own jigs, including the eponymous opener, are a shot in the arm for the pipes, with enough buoyant optimism to carry them well into the belly of the 21st century Síobhán Long

Peter Wood's Sleeve Notes of An Tobar Glé ...

Neil Mulligan

Neil Mulligan’s father Tom first came to Dublin in 1935. He’d left a job shoveling coal from the Arigna train – the last of Ireland’s narrow gauge railways – onto that bound for Dublin. He arrived into a city caught between the Great Depression and what became known as The Emergency. The first job Tom got barely covered his digs. Coming from a family of musicians Tom had a head full of music even if his pockets were empty and it was wondering the streets of Phibsborough one night that he first heard the music of the piper and pipe-maker, James Mulcrone, coming from an upstairs window. Through Mulcrone Tom Mulligan met other musicians, enduring friendships were formed with people like Tommy Reck and Séamus Ennis and Tom – a fiddle player – bought a set of Mulcrone pipes. He married Kitty McMahon from Beale in Kerry and they began a family.

The story of how Tom Mulligan met James Mulcrone and what followed is important. Important because Néillidh Mulligan’s music is very much steeped in what resulted from those associations. That and his father’s own musicianship. Every tune has a story, goes back to somebody who played it or composed it or remembered a snatch of it from somewhere else. Néillidh Mulligan’s music is unimaginable without his fierce knowledge of the tradition it springs form, whether that came from the playing of musicians like his first formal teacher, Leo Rowsome, or regular visitors to the Mulligan’s house like Tommy Reck and Paddy Bán Ó Broin, or guests who stayed longer like Séamus Ennis – already a legend, even then.

It was Ennis who insisted that a musician spend seven years learning, seven years practicing and seven years playing before he described himself as a piper. Who looked upon the playing of music as a journey and an obligation. Ennis too influenced Neil’s attitude to the playing of airs – his insistence that the true authority lay in the original Gaelic, in an understanding of the sean-nós songs they came from. The singing of Seosamh Ó hEanaí and Tom Pháidín Tom, amongst others, influences this piper’s music and those influences are fundamental.

This is Néillidh Mulligan’s third album. It builds on Barr na Cúille and The Leitrim Thrush. In a sense biographical details aren’t all that material; All-Ireland titles won, critical acclaim, plaudits gained, because the story of what’s truly behind the music on this CD is that of a world of music. What’s important is that this is an unusual work these days – work that is seldom heard – that of a solo musician playing with wit, great style and vivacity. A piper who is sure of his touch and for whom playing music is a lifelong preoccupation and who plays with warmth and emotion. Néillidh Mulligan’s music is imbedded in a great tradition – it honours that tradition and carries it forth. That world of music.


Peter Woods



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