Give us two hours and we’ll give you four centuries of Irish music…
Catherine Rhatigan comes from Co. Sligo, Ireland and plays Celtic harp and piano. The main scope of Catherine’s work with the group is to create innovative arts based programmes, then initiate, produce and direct them in collaboration with other arts professionals. In general, this includes selecting themes and supporting material for use, programming, and communicating with funders and arts professionals and communities to bring projects to fruition. Her background is diverse and has brought her into contact with many arts professionals, organisers and musicians over the years.
IRISH HARP ORCHESTRA Catherine started playing harp with Janet Harbison, joined the Irish Harp Orchestra and toured extensively with them. Her time with the Orchestra included a tour of the east coast of America with the world famous Chieftains, ending with a special concert in Carnegie Hall, New York, to mark the year of the harp in Ireland, 1992. The Orchestra also recorded ‘The Celtic Harp’ with the Chieftains and the CD won a Grammy Award the same year.
HARPERS BIZARRE Around the same time she set up a traditional band called Harpers Bizarre which toured Europe and represented Ireland in World Ethnic Music Festival in Johannesberg in 1995. The group secured a silver medal for Ireland in the event, the gold medal going to the Russian entry of that year. She also hold an All-Ireland gold medal for musical accompaniment to poetry, which she won with actress Pat Sweeney, also in 1992.
SCRIPT AND MUSICAL THEATRE In 1995 she scripted a musical theatre piece ‘Ocras’ which showcased the earliest compositions of Irish composer Michael Rooney, and five other scripts followed. The Cloths of Heaven (1999) The O Donnell Legacy( 2000) De Cuellar’s Tale, (2001) Remembering Brian Boru, (2014) Lady Gregory: Life and Legacy (2015) WB Yeats: A Portrait (2015) The 1916 Story ( 2016) Cannon in Sea (2018), Reverberations: Voices and Melodies from Joyce’s Ireland (2018)
LITERARY In 2008 she edited The Irish Seaweed Kitchen, and in 2018 The Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen, both of which have been awarded best cookbook prizes.
TALE OF THE GAEL was formed in response to demand for elegant, sophisticated Irish music suitable for high profile corporate events, castle banquets, art gallery launches and the like. Over the years, the merge of authentic music, research, narration, storytelling and recently audio visual, has earned Tale of the Gael a niche in the world of entertainment and the arts.
EVENTS AND FESTIVAL ORGANISATION The Yeats 150 Harp Festivals of Moons ( 2015) was a year long festival with a harp concert organised for every full moon of the commemerative year of Yeats’ birth. Catherine was behind the idea and implementation of this highly successful festival, working under the capable guidance of Senator Susan O Keeffe, and a festival committee of Robert Tobin, Celia Keenaghan and Prannie Rhatigan. She formed The Celtic Fragment with Isabelle Hauser in Switzerland, another year long festival that celebrated the major Celtic feast days in the Celtic Calendar( 2017)
Eileen Carr is an extremely accomplished musician, having studied music in University College Cork, Ireland for four years, after which she graduated with an Honours degree. Her specialised instruments are silver flute and organ. THE ABBEY SINGERS Eileens’s great passion is choral singing and she formed and directed the well known Abbey Singers in Donegal town for over 25 years, where she teaches music, and has assumed the position of Musical Director for numerous amateur and professional productions.
She performed traditional Irish music with various groups all over Ireland, Europe and the U. S. and was part of the traditional music group which travelled to South Africa in 1995 to represent Ireland in a world ethnic music competition. Hers is the magical silver flute heard on the album Tale of the Gael, recorded in 1999, now reprinted for the third time. The group, Harpers Bizarre, won the silver medal. Now living in Donegal town, Eileen is an integral part of the music world there, and much in demand for her great versatility as a musician.
Robert Tobin currently lives in Finland where he works as a professional flautist. Trained in Dublin, he also studied in Vienna and Zurich, where he completed a Masters Degree in performance. CLASSICAL AND TRADITIONAL While his main instrument is silver flute, his origins lie in traditional whistle and mixes both styles in Tale of the Gael. Robert toured Europe and Ireland with Tale of the Gael, and The Deirdre Starr Band and has appeared in both the Zurich Opera House and Carnegie Hall during his career to date. He was scheduled to begin work with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra as Principal Flautist in April 2020.
BrendanWade grew up in Wexford in the south east of Ireland, surrounded by music. Singing before he could talk he began playing Irish tin whistle at the age of 14 and won the County Wexford 1st prize at the fleadh in 1976. Having heard the music of Planxty and the Bothy Band he took up the Uilleann Pipes CRY BEFORE DAWN After leaving school Brendan joined a rock band which went on to be known as «Cry Before Dawn». This was a life changing event and since 1985 he has been a professional musician. The band had great success in Ireland and the UK, having signed a world wide recording contract with CBS (Sony). They were awarded «Best new act» in 1988 and «Best Irish band» in national music awards (IRMA) in 1990 and achieved two gold disk awards in Ireland.
After the band parted, Brendan together with top singer songwriter Paul Bell (Zerra 1), formed a duo called «The Wild Swans». They achieved number 1 in Ireland with their songs about Wexford Hurling, reaching gold status. . They recorded an album with Take That producer Chris Porter recording in the famous Abbey Road studios in London and went on to tour with Mike and the Mechanics, Elton John, and David Essex.
Brendan recorded with top Italian singer/ songwriter Angelo Branduardi on his album «Il ditto e la luna» also with Italian singer Pati Pravo. He also recorded a session for Robbie Williams. Brendan now lives in Switzerland and performs with many different groups Inish a high energy traditional folk group featuring Mike and Tamy Gorsatt and Simon Brem, Bow Triplets (Irish, Swedish, Canadian folk music) with Heidi and Stef Sigfalk, and more recently Rumi S. Hatt.
In 2009 he was awarded a teaching diploma T. T. C. T. in traditional music teaching by Comhaltas Celotori Eireann. www.brendanwade.com
Dave Aebli comes from Rüti, near Zurich, and is a wonderfully versatile string player. The music of Greece, Ireland, and the Balkans flow through the fingers of this talented musician who plays with several ensembles. His main band is ‘Chef de Kef‘ the Kings of fun, which is a great swing party band for any occasion. He plays with several different bands, including The Joe McHugh Band and Dschané, and is a musician in residence for the well known Rigiblick Theatre in Zurich. He also helps run the very successful Sternen Club in Ruti. www.sternenkellar.ch
Prannie Rhatigan plays percussion with the group and features on both Tale of the Gael albums. An extremely busy person in her own right, she now follows in the footsteps of a long line of medical doctors from the north west of Ireland who also find time to play music on international tours! She is also an award winning seaweed cookery author and picked up a Best in the World Seafood Cookery Award in 2019 of which we are all very proud. Prannie’s bodhran style is as popular as her sean nos dancing among audiences, and she has conducted workshops in Switzerland and the US.
A highly respected member of Comhaltas Ceolteori Eireann, ( the official traditional Irish music body in Ireland), Paddy first teamed up with Tale of the Gael in 2008. He has performed and taught at every summer school in Ireland and in the U.S.,adjudicates regularly at national and international traditional music competitions and hosts his own radio show on Shannonside radio, which has Irish music fans in all areas of the globe, particularly in Brazil and Australia!
A flavour of the depth and traditionalism of Paddy’s music can be seen on various clips on u-tube.
Paul Dooley is a metal strung harp player from Co. Clare who makes his own harps and is also a great fiddle player. He spent ten years researching the ancient mysteries of early harp manuscripts and has recorded several albums. The sound of both metal and non-metal strings together, as played in Tale of the Gael, is a striking combination of sound. Paul is also a great fiddle player, and has an amazing amount of knowledge about both the ancient harp repertoire and traditional music which he readily shares with us, and at his workshops. He was recently awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Limerick, Ireland for his study of medieval harp tuning. www.pauldooley.com
Joe Mc Hugh won the prestigious All Ireland piping competition when he was twenty years old, and since then has developed a range of playing styles that stretches from dance music to contemporary rock.
He has featured on many albums and in addition to travelling all over the globe, has recently completed a tour with Swiss harp player Andreas Wollenweider.
He played with Irish singer /songriter Shirley Grimes, and toured as support to Van Morrison with the band in 2008, and moved back to Ireland in 2011. www.joemchugh.net
Ray Coen, from Sligo played on the very first Tale of the Gael CD in 1999. He began touring with the band in 2003 and and completed a 10 day tour of Japan performing as a harp / fiddle / duet with Catherine in 2019, finishing with a performance at the the Tokyo Harp Festival. A formidable guitar and fiddle player, he also writing great songs and composes these days. See Ray Coen My Space. He has recorded several albums wit the internationally acclaimed ‘No Crows’ and regularly tours in Spain with The Craic Addicts