Annmarie O’Riordan in the Farmers Journal

Cork singer Annmarie O’Riordan has a special rapport with audiences and she’s back to thrill fans with a new album, writes Michael Commins. Tradition lives on in the voice of Annmarie O’Riordan. The Cork singer will launch her new album, The Joys of My Heart, at a gala night of music and dancing in the Killarney Heights Hotel on Friday, 26 October.

Annmarie (23) has charmed audiences from the US to the Azores with her haunting brand of traditional songs, sung from the heart in her strong Cork accent. She has been accorded standing ovations at numerous venues and her rendition of The Chapel Gates of Cooraclare is always a show-stopper.

It was her recording of This Story I Tell You Is True that gained her recognition around the country and introduced her to so many people. The song is one of her most requested numbers wherever she goes.

As a seven-year-old, she joined the Millstreet branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and took part in many feiseanna, winning her first county medal at Freemount. She recorded her first song, Down Erin’s Lovely Lee, at the age of 12.

The Harmony Handed Down collection came two years later. But it was her 2005 Melody in Harmony album that attracted a major response. It included The Story I Tell You Is True and the poignant and reflective Cooraclare.

Since then, she has recorded two other albums, Ireland – Love of my Heart and Song for the Journey, the latter which was launched in Killarney in March of 2011.

One of Annmarie’s main musical influences is Dolores Keane from Co Galway, a singer long associated with the organic feel of the rural spirit of the country. And it is entirely fitting that Matt Keane and his daughter Orlaith, brother and niece of Dolores, are among the guests at her launch night in Killarney.

Annmarie, who is an official Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann adjudicator, when not doing shows at home, is lead singer with the Birmingham-based Celtic Feet dance troupe. They perform concerts in various parts of England and are heading to Norway next summer. “It is a big production and the show always goes down well. We got a huge reception in the Azores last year,” she says.

Annmarie, who graduated from UCC earlier this year, is clearly excited about her latest album. “I am delighted with it and I hope the people out there will enjoy it too. There’s a grand mix of songs on it, including the title track The Joys of My Heart that I penned myself. There are two other original songs, Good Times Come Once Again written by John Duggan from Mid West Radio and Each Time that I Look in Your Eyes by Bill Wright from the USA.

“Come Home to Abbeyfeale, a song composed by Seán McCarthy from Kerry, and the ever-popular Bold Thady Quill are included on the album. The Garden Where the Praties Grow, I Wish I had someone to Love Me, Galway Bay, My Own Dear Native Land and The Foggy Dew, to name but a few, are among the 15 songs on the album. It was recorded and mixed by Tony O’Flaherty in Sonas, Killarney, and mastered by Ruairí O’Flaherty in Whisper & Shout Studios, Los Angeles.

Busy rehearsing:

“We are looking forward to a big night at the launch in Killarney and we have a great line-up. PJ Murrihy is coming down from Clare and Matt Keane and his daughter Orlaith are coming all the way from Galway. The Deenagh Céilí Band will also entertain on the night, as will sean nos dancer Darragh O’Donnell. We also have Billy O’Brien and others. I am busy rehearsing with my band which comprises Tony O’Flaherty, Éamonn O’Riordan, Gearóid O’Duinnín and Tony O’Connell. It promises to be a great night for all patrons,” says Annmarie.

Sean Radley, who presents shows on LTV 2 in Millstreet and Cork Music Station, says they are privileged to have such a wonderful ambassador for traditional and folk music in their home region. “Annmarie’s first solo concert at the Glen Theatre, Banteer, in September 2009 was spectacular. Privileged indeed were those who were in the capacity audience, experiencing not only Annmarie’s beautiful singing voice but her very wonderful unique rapport with her audience.

“Song for the Journey, her last album, had, as its overall theme, our journey through life. The spiritual nature of many of these musical gems echoes her sincere love of singing with her local church choir, University College Choir (Cork) and The Duhallow Choral Society.

“She features on a regular basis on Donncha Ó Dúlaing’s ever-popular Fáilte Isteach on RTÉ Radio One on Saturday nights. In March of 2010, Annmarie embarked on her first tour of the USA which was hugely successful with shows in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Boston. She plans to return there next March. She’s a very special singer,” says Sean.

The show starts at 8.30pm and it looks like being one special night in Killarney. CL

o The Joys of My Heart is released by Claddagh Records. See


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