Interview With Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh / Quiet Lights Festival

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-9-7, text underneath photo.

ECHO - TID - Caoimhin O'

Over the last decade or so, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh has developed into one of the most inventive and daring artists on the Irish Traditional music landscape. He is one fifth of the critically lauded ‘The Gloaming’, who sold out 7 nights in a row earlier this year in the National Concert Hall; one quarter of ‘This Is How We Fly’, a band that have incorporated trad, dance, electronic and jazz influences to create an intriguing instrumental contemporary folk sound; and alongside all this he has continued performing regularly solo and in various collaborations – sometimes short term projects, others more long standing.

The inaugural ‘Quiet Lights’ festival takes place in Cork over the second weekend of September and promises to “shine lights on the new wave of Irish folk and traditional talent that are quietly making waves, forging new paths, recollecting old tales and making new stories.” Caoimhín being part of the line up is an obvious fit, something that isn’t lost on him, “it’s a lovely invitation to do something special, especially knowing the man behind the festival, Jon Pearson, and seeing the other artists who will be performing at it – it feels like a fine sonic adventure is on the cards, and there’s no need to hold anything back!”

He clearly feels an affection for the festival and how it will be set up to be in various places across the city, some well known music venues – such as Coughlans, The Roundy and St Pauls – and also places that would be less used such as Slow Moving Clouds playing in the Chapel in Griffith College on Saturday 8 September with Katie Kim and Radie Peat playing together there the next day, he continues “I thinks it’ll definitely really help bring music to new audiences; I especially like this kind of festival, one that uses some really beautiful spaces in the city, rather than the big-tent-in-a-field.”

On the subject of his many collaborations, one of the festival’s other acts Cormac Begley [Coughlans, Douglas Street – Friday 7 September] and he did a tour as duo playing in various churches around Ireland in 2016 and 2017, but while some people might expect him to be standing near each stage waiting to jump on Caoimhín has a much more relaxed expectation for the weekend, “you know, I’m really most interested in other people’s unique solo voice. I’ve always been most interested in hearing people do their own beautiful thing, just them on their own. I understand that ‘collaboration’ sounds like an exciting thing to some people, but really I would much prefer to hear somebody just do the thing they’ve brought into being all by themselves. If someone makes music that affects me profoundly, I just want to experience more of that thing, rather than start playing with them. At the same time, I know there’s some kind of excitement that an audience gets from seeing something new happen in front of them for the first time, but I don’t really believe in it myself.”

For his solo show, he is bringing an acoustic instrument and also some new electronic ideas he’s been developing, “I’ll be playing my extraordinary 10-string hardanger d’amore fiddle, and I’ve written some code that allows to process the sound of it in real time, so I’ll be taking those electronics with me too.”

This summer Caoimhin has got back into the swing of things of playing on his own, “the last few months have been really nice, actually – I had a good few solo gigs, which I’m really happy about – I had kind of neglected that side of things for a while, and I forget just how much I enjoy it, it’s one of the most rewarding ways of making music I know.”

He seems intent on keeping up that momentum, on both a live and recording front, “I have a solo tour coming up in the Autumn, of which the Quiet Lights gig is the first, and I’m really looking forward to all of those gigs, and developing and evolving the material as I go along. I am definitely looking towards recording a solo album over the next while too!”

His solo gigs weren’t the only concerts he played recently though, his moving from project to project is a mindset he relishes, “I’d wilt if it were always the one thing… Getting into the different headspaces needed for each group is both fun and challenging, I’d say but I reckon I thrive on the multiplicity of the different combinations. I had some lovely gigs with This is How we Fly, which is always a thrilling and wonderful experience, and I was also on a small island in Denmark playing with Garth Knox at a pretty magical little festival.”

It wasn’t just playing music that has occupied Caoimhin over the summer, “I didn’t overload the summer with gigs, it’s good to leave a bit of room for other things that matter! I had plenty of walking, camping, foraging and the like. The freezer is full of wild bilberries from the Wicklow mountains, the cupboards are full of jams and chutneys and pickles and homemade wines and vinegar and all those sorts of things now – what a summer it was for growing things!”

The Quiet Lights festival runs from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 September, full line up can be found at visit
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays St Peter’s, North Main Street as part of the Quiet Lights Festival at 4pm, Saturday 8 September, tickets €15 available from

Connolly’s of Leap, West Cork – Thursday 18 October, ticket info here

Aula Maxima, University College Cork – Friday 19 October

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