Not Before Time​.​.​.​39 Years in the Making

by Páraic Mac Donnchadha

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Hardback cover CD with 36 pages of autobiographical narrative, photographs and track notes.

    Introduced by fiddle-player Martin Hayes "...beautiful tunes, beautiful phrasing, beautiful rhythm"... this CD presents traditional Irish music played on tenor banjo by Páraic Mac Donnchadha and eminent musical friends - all top performers of the genre. The variety of music, instruments, rhythms and tunes (over 70 mins) beautifully presented in a stunning, integrated 36-page hardback booklet design, combine to deliver a hugely satisfying "listening experience".

    'Perfect pace, perfect space, rock solid music.' - Derek Hickey

    Includes unlimited streaming of Not Before Time...39 Years in the Making via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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My earliest musical memory is that of using my finger at about four years of age to plug the hole in the Bass drone of Willie Clancy’s pipes as he played at our home where he and Doreen stayed during their honeymoon in the early Sixties. I remember my dad being highly unimpressed with this level of destructive initiative but Willie only laughing as he played on. Another very early memory, at four years of age, is that of fiddle-player Máirtín Byrnes dancing on the kitchen floor late one night to Séamus Ennis’ playing while my father sang ‘Cúnla’… I remember making a noise while retrieving my pyjamas from the box where they were stored, that still can be heard on a reel-to-reel tape recording taken at the time… once again, it was only my uncomprehending age that saved me from real chastisement as I was hustled off to the lead.

Although we surely didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, my brothers Féilim, Mac Dara and Seán, and sister Sinéad and I were truly fortunate to have grown up in the musical household that we did. My father, Seán (“the Master”) was a renowned sean-nós and ballad singer and my mother Bríd (“the Landlady”) a great listener and an avid, enthusiastic dancer. Growing up, we children were regularly turfed out of bed to make room for the “important” guest musicians who might land at any hour of the day or night, en route to or from a Fleadh Cheoil or session somewhere. The excitement of having musicians visit “out of the blue” and stay to disrupt our routine for a few days was always terrific.

As I commenced my musical journey with the instrument, the only banjo-player recording available to me was Donal Staunton playing ‘The Moving Bog’ followed by ‘Micho Russell’s’ reels on an LP called “The Rambles of Kitty”. I wore that track down to its final crackle! My late interest in learning to play (by comparison with most young learners-I was nineteen) was a huge Godsend to my dad who “had” to bring me to various County Fleadhs as well as sessions in Moylan’s pub in Loughrea every Saturday, so that I could first listen and eventually, over time, join in the session with regulars Paddy Carty, Conor Tully, John Joe Ford, Prionsias Hogan, and also Terence O’Reilly and others that I met around this time.
Fortunately for me, once exposed to the deceptive simplicity of Paddy Fahey’s compositions and fiddle-playing, and the elegance and sheer flow of Paddy Carty’s flute music and Conor Tully’s breathtaking interpretation and delivery of an enormous repertoire of minor and modal music on fiddle, there was only ever going to be one rhythm that I wanted to play and that was ‘East Galway’. I was lucky enough to become exposed to the exhilarating best of Paddy and Conor’s music over subsequent years, an exposure that I still consider a treasured lifetime privilege. These giants of the East Galway tradition inspired me to try to comprehend and blend in with music that flowed seamlessly from one phrase to the next, from one tune to the other, from one key or musical interpretation to another even more stunning and wonderful. The sessions, the tunes, keys, variations, interpretation and ornamentation… all were simply breathtaking and irreplaceable, forming the basis of myriad memories that still warm my heart.

This CD would not have been possible without the ongoing, enormous and undeserved patience and support of my fantastic wife Sandra, who has in her inimitable style helpfully pointed out that the planning, procrastination, deliberation and decision-making required for this CD has surely been greater than that required for the painting of the Sistine Chapel. “Fágfaimid siúd mar atá sé”. As for my gorgeous girls, Jessica, Réitseal and Liadh - I’ve wanted to create a worthy legacy of which they might all be proud.

I do hope you will hear echoes of the music of those who so generously assisted me on my musical journey to date on this CD. I also hope you’ll want to listen and enjoy it for years to come.

Buíochas speisialta/Appreciation to:
Paddy Fahey, Eddie Kelly, John McHugh, Sean Smyth, Kevin Hough, Andrew McNamara, Eileen O’Brien, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Steve Cooney, Tommy Hardiman, Seamus Heneghan, John Wynn, Oisín Morrison, Maeve Donnelly, Patsy Broderick, Maureen Fahy, Bruce du Vé, Eilis O Connor, Ciarán Curran, Colm and Tracy Gannon, Tom Cussen, Tony Tracey, Tommy Kelly and the Kelly family, Liam Loughrey, Martin Gavin, Aidan Connolly, Padraic Keane, Andrea Palandri, Liam McGonigle, Ronan Moloney, Ailbhe Ó Monacháin, Conor Connolly, Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn, Fiontán Ó Meachair, Laoise Kelly, John, Paula & Rosa Carroll, Lily O’Connor.

Buíochas an-speisialta!
Mom agus Daid agus an clann ar fad, Cormac agus Macdara agus an fhoireann ar fad atá liom anseo, Tomás Mac Uileagóid, Tim Tully, Seamus Sands, Martin Hayes, Mary ‘K’ McNamara, Ben Lennon, Kevin Crawford, Sean Keane, Marcas Ó Murchú, Mick O’Brien, Édaín ODonnell, Jack Talty, Martin O’Malley, Benny McCarthy, Gary & Mary Pepper.

Four special people were instrumental in helping me to deliver this project: Cormac Begley, Macdara Ó Faoláin, Sinéad Nic Dhonncha agus Tomás Mac Uilleagóid.


released December 10, 2018

Produced by Páraic Mac Donnchadha.
All tracks recorded by Martin O’Malley in “Parlour Studios”, Pepper’s Bar, Feakle Co. Clare, except
Tracks 7, 9, 11 and 17, recorded by Benny McCarthy, at Doon Studios, Doon, Co. Waterford.
All tracks mixed and mastered by Jack Talty at Raelach Studios, Lisseycasey, Co. Clare.
Tune background and information kindly provided by Graham Guerin.
Buíochas do Mharcas Ó Murchú as an chabhair leis na nótaí don amhrán.
Cover design by Edel Butler.


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Paraic Galway, Ireland

Páraic Mac Donnchadha has played tenor banjo for almost forty years and now shares his wealth of experience, insight and musical pedigree on his breakthrough album 'Not Before Time... 39 Years in the Making' (Thar Am).

Known more as a Session player than as a Stage performer, Páraic's easy-going style along with his driving rhythm, in the classic East Galway style, creates a distinctive impact.
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