Claddagh reveals ‘treasure trove’ of music and poetry on website
Record label relaunch resurrects 500 historic Irish recordings from bank vaults, writes Samantha McCaughren
The Sunday Independent
May 9th 2021
More than 600 products, including Irish music and poetry, will be available for sale internationally with plans for the Claddagh website to become a ‘go-to’ site for traditional Irish music and sound.
It will release more than 60 recordings from the archive on all Digital Service Providers (DSPs) for the first time.
These releases include The Chieftains albums 1-10, Leo Rowsome’s King of the Pipers and Derek Bell’s Carolan’s Favourite.
Since the death of Claddagh founder Garech Browne in 2018, a full inventory of the record company’s archives, which included more than 60 boxes of material, has been completed. Over 500 historic recordings, some of which have never been released, have been catalogued.
Nick Younger, COO of Universal Music Ireland, said he hoped Claddagh would tap into the global appetite for traditional Irish music and poetry.
“We are Universal, we have a fabulous global network and operations in so many countries so it really gives us an opportunity to spread this amazing catalogue all around the world.
“It’s just like a treasure trove. We’ve got all these tapes from Bank of Ireland, which we’re going through and it’s a big process as you can imagine. We’re seeing tapes and going ‘wow, was that even released?’.”
In some cases, several tapes might be linked to a single project and work is being done to identify which recordings made the final cut, as well as outtakes which could offer new insights or unreleased songs.
“It will mainly be CDs – that’s what the historic Cladagh customers have gone for – but because of the huge increase in vinyl demand, the market is growing incredibly, we are bringing more vinyl in,” said Younger.
“We also have merchandise, so there will be books, there will be a couple of instruments and hopefully in the future there will be artwork as well.”
Six further archive recordings, including Sean Ó Riada’s Ó Riada’s Farewell, Seamus Heaney and Liam O’Flynn’s The Poet & The Piper and Jack MacGowran’s MacGowran Speaking Beckett, will be remastered, and pressed on to vinyl for the first time and released later this year.
In addition to this, new recordings and releases are currently being scheduled with the record label, including a special release to mark The Chieftains’ 60th anniversary and a new recording of Patrick Kavanagh’s Almost Everything.
In the latter years of his life Browne was eager to embark on a revival of Claddagh Records which he had set up in 1959 with his friend, Ivor Browne.
At the time of his death in March 2018 Garech was planning the re-release of several albums.
He was also working on a history of Claddagh and this book is scheduled for publication in 2022.
In 2019 Claddagh Records signed a global licensing agreement with Universal Music.
“This agreement with Universal Music Ireland is a most exciting development as it signals a very exciting new chapter for Claddagh and for Ireland’s cultural past. Garech’s lifelong wish was for Claddagh recordings to be accessible nationally and internationally” said James Morrissey, chairman and shareholder of Claddagh Records. Morrissey is a well-known public relations adviser. The other shareholders are Browne’s nephews and Tony Boylan.
Leo Rowsome's 'The King of the Pipers'
Claddagh has recorded losses over the years but it is hoped this latest venture will put it on a firm footing for the future and profits will be reinvested to produce more material.
Younger said: “A lot of effort has gone into the design and making a new website easy to use, and easy to learn about Claddagh. Hopefully the website will develop in the future where it is a home for when you want to find anything out about Irish music. To begin with we’re just going to make sure it has the best products on there.
“To start with we are going to have 60 to 70 products which were originally part of the Claddagh label and signed by Garech.
“Obviously it’s a business but we genuinely see it as a responsibility because there is such cultural history there. Garech was an eclectic character and the label kind of reflects that. I knew of the Chieftains and Patrick Kavanagh. The fact that there is poetry in it and it makes up such a big part of it , it’s a real nice challenge. This is really important cultural history of Ireland and we’ve got to look after it and do it proud.”
Claddagh also plans to sign new artists to the label.