Ireland's premiere traditional band, Altan, releases their new studio album today, THE GAP OF DREAMS, just time for St Patrick's Day. Over a career spanning three decades, Altan have become global ambassadors for traditional Irish music, anchored by the gorgeously ethereal vocals of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.
Four of the album's songs are in Irish (Gaelic), which is Mairéad’s first language and the language of the northwest of Donegal, and the album also includes traditional Irish reels. Renowned for their spirited live performances, Altan have announced a month-long US tour covering 19 cities and 13 states (scroll down for complete dates).
The band returned to their native hills of Donegal to record this album with producers Michael Kenney and Tommy McLaughlin to capture the essence that has become the hallmark of Altan’s music. Recorded at Attica Studios in the townland of Termon, the inspiration of the band's beloved homeland seems to have spilled into the studio, transporting the listener to the lifestyle and folklore traditions of rural Donegal, to a time before electricity when folks would gather together during the bitter cold of winter to tell stories, sing songs and dance into the wee hours of the night. The music lifted the locals’ spirits and helped elevate them beyond the hardships of the day-- famine, conflict, and emigration. It is this enduring spirit that has informed the development of the band through their many phases of growth, from their beginnings as a pub duo to international touring and recording artists.
The album title, THE GAP OF DREAMS, is borrowed from a poem by Francis Carlin, "The Ballad of Douglas Bridge," in which he writes: “The Gap of Dreams is never shut,” referring to the gap between this world and the Otherworld. The Otherworld has always exerted a large influence on the fiddling tradition of County Donegal and has served as inspiration for song, music, and folklore.
In 2017, Mairéad was awarded one of Ireland’s highest musical honors when she was declared the TG4 Gradam Ceoil/Traditional Musician of the Year, recognizing her prominent role in supporting, nurturing and strengthening Irish traditional music.
Founded in 1987 in County Donegal, Ireland, by members, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy, Altan celebrates 35 years of the most iconic and longest lasting bands in Irish music. After decades of playing on stages all over the world Altan continues to prove that they "as fresh as ever. Right from the opening track..." of their new album, THE GAP OF DREAMS, out now on Compass Records.