On Holy Ground
(independent, 2007)

Opening with Mick Hanly"s masterpiece, "Past the Point of Rescue," it takes a few seconds to get used to the Dutch rather than a Limerick accent here, but Kilshannig does a great job with this wonderfully written song. Next we get Corkman Jimmy McCarthy"s "Ride On," and again we have to surgically remove the popular Christy Moore version and accept this lovely rendition that is softer and much more sensitive.

Not that the band confines itself to Irish material. They cross to Scotland, and who better to choose as a writer than Andy M. Stewart and his rollicking "The Queen of All Argyll"?

For me the jewel in an album of gems is "The Holy Ground." We have heard and enjoyed the boisterous versions starting with the Clancys, but Kilshannig uses Mary Black as its source and not only changes the gender viewpoint but transfers the lyrics from a shanty to a sort of soulful lament. This works brilliantly and gives us a new song that will delight. They up the pace them with "The Jolly Beggerman" coupled with a jig of the same name.

"Loving Hannah" is one of the lesser-known tracks on the album, but again it demonstrates the versatility and musical talent of Kilshannig. They give us a haunting version of the famine ballad originally in Irish but here translated to English, "A Stor Mo Chroi," followed by another old favourite called "Step It Out Mary." Another offering is the poignant song of the Troubles, "My Youngest Son" from the pen of Eric Bogle.

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review by
Nicky Rossiter

8 March 2008

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