Tale of the Gael was formed in 1998 in Ireland by Catherine Rhatigan, Harp, Margaret Rhatigan Harp, and Eileen Carr, Silver Flute in response to a demand for elegant, sophisticated Irish music suitable for high profile corporate events, castle banquets, art gallery launches and the like. Nowadays, the group resembles the life of an 18th century Irish harper… moves a round a lot, plays a lot of music with a lot of different musicians in all sorts of place for all sorts of occasions.
Catherine Rhatigan comes from Co. Sligo, Ireland, and started her first band at 11, while still in Primary School. It was a marching band and incorporated almost the entire school population, about 30 kids, and she played the piano accordian. Years later, she still plays, mainly Irish harp, but also piano.
She 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.
Around the same time she joined 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.
In 1995 she scripted a musical theatre piece about the potato famine which was performed all over Ireland, England and the U.S. Five other scripts followed, one of which details the lives of O Carolan and other Irish harpers and was awarded an Arts Council Bursary, and one which takes a lyrical look at Sligo poet WB Yeats Tale of the Gael was formed in response to a big demand for elegant, sophisticated Irish music suitable for high profile corporate events, castle banquets, art gallery launches and the like. When Catherine married and moved to Switzerland, she continued playing the 18th century repertoire, met other great musicians, and expanded the style and scope of the group.
A secondary school teacher of English by profession, she also teaches Irish harp music and has taught in the Lake Constance Celtic Days, for the Rhine Valley Fleadh in Strassbourg, and in the Swiss Conservatory of Music in Lugano.
In 2011 she set up the Swiss Celtic Harp Ensemble, a group of six harpers living in Switzerland. www.charpensemble.ch
Margaret Rhatigan began her musical career in 1973 with the Cliffoney marching band, which played at the local bonfire and community games each year. She began playing the Irish Harp in 1988. Together with her sister Catherine she was a member of tthe Belfast Harp Orchestra in the early nineties, touring Europe and the he Belfast Harp Orchestra in the early nineties, touring Europe and the States.
She began playing the Irish Harp in 1988. Together with her sister Catherine she was a member of the Belfast Harp Orchestra in the early nineties, touring Europe and the States.
Margaret also plays whistle and fiddle, and can take the floor with the best when it comes to a step or two of sean nos, (old style) dancing. She helps run a session open to everyone in the Northside Community Centre, Sligo Town, every Tuesday between 14.00 and 17.00. Visitors and musicians especially welcome and there is public transport to the venue. Running over the summer, this is one of the sessions you won’t read about in the guide books; totally home-grown and anything can happen.
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.
She has performed traditional Irish music with various groups all over Ireland, Europe and the U. S., and along with Catherine and Margaret, 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.
Brendan Wade. Born in Wexford Town in the south east of Ireland, Brendan grew up surrounded by music. His Grandfather Georg
e Ross Snr played traditional wooden flute and 10 key melodeon, and his uncle George Ross Jnr, won the All Ireland button accordion championship in 1956.
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 that year under the direction of Jimmy Mc Mahon, piper and reed-maker.
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
Colette Mc Devitt is the female vocalist who sings so beautifully on our CD, and is also featured on the forthcoming one. A native Irish speaker, she works for Oideas Gael in Donegal where she also teaches Irish. Colette was our soloist for many years. These days she is in big demand as a singing teacher and regularly gives workshops in the US.
Prannie Rhatigan plays percussion with the group and features on the Tale of the Gael album recorded in 1999. 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! Prannie’s bodhran style is as popular as her sean nos dancing among audiences, and she has conducted workshops in Switzerland and the US.
She has recently published ‘Irish Seaweed Kitchen’ a guide to harvesting and cooking edible seaweeds www.prannie.com
Dave Aebli comes from Ruti, 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 also helps run the very successful Sternen Club in Ruti. www.sternenkellar.ch
Christian Fotsch plays bass and bouzouki with several bands, including Tale of the Gael , from time to time. He is very well known for his gypsy and flamenco styles of playing and brings the well known Gypsy Festival to Switzerland every year, introducing authentic gypsy musicians from all over the world to Swiss audiences. Christian first played with the band in 2011.
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.
Mickey Dunne joined us a guest in 2012 for two concerts, stayed for four, and joins us again for out 2013 summer concerts. He comes from a legendary family of musicians, and is himself a hugely respected piper both sides of the Atlantic.
A stalwart among the organisers of the Pipers Festival, which gathers piping families from everywhere together once a year in Co. Clare, Mickey is also a pipe maker and a great fiddle player. www.mickeydunne.com
He has recorded with his two daughters, both of whom play fiddle.
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 is currently studying for a Master’s Degree at University of Limerick, Ireland. www.pauldooley.com
Martin Byrne, from Tipperary,has played a few tours with the group as fiddle player and has a great traditional style. He studied traditional music with Paddy Ryan for several years as part of a VEC music programme, and helps to host the Rambling House in Cliffoney on Tuesday nights. He also works as a tour guide of Ireland’s ancient sites and has been known to entertain the odd group to a few tunes on the fiddle as they contemplated the mysteries of a few thousand years past.
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
Veronika Stalder comes from Lucerne and is primarily a trained jazz singer with a great connection to Irish singing and fiddle music. While still studying , she took regular trips to Co. Clare to top up her fiddle playing. She has sung with many well known performers, and recently released her own singer/songwriter album with her own band Indigo. Her baroque harmonies on fiddle are particularly beautiful with the old harp music melodies of O Carolan and other 17th century harpers www.veronikastalder.ch
Ray Coen, from Sligo played a few gigs with us way back in 2003. A formidable guitar and fiddle player, he is also writing great songs these days and has released an album. See Ray Coen My Space.