Here is some information about us:
Our father, Francie Mooney was a well known local teacher and fiddle player.
He was also a prolific writer and wrote songs, plays and dramas for the local community theatre group, Aisteoirí Ghaoth Dobhair.
Our mother, Kitty Rua (née Gallagher) came from a musical household, her father and uncles played melodeon at dances and gatherings. The Gallagher home was a well known ceilidh house where all the young people would gather for dances and that is how she met our father Francie.
We are two sisters Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (fiddle and vocals) and Anna Ní Mhaonaigh (whistle and vocals), our brother Gearóid Ó Maonaigh (guitar) and his son Ciarán Ó Maonaigh (fiddle).
We have always played music together in the family, and at sessions. We have all taken different career paths, some in music and others in business. This is our first foray into formally performing together as a group. We call ourselves Na Mooneys as that is the name we are referred to locally here in Gaoth Dobhair; “Na” being the Irish for “The”, and “Mooney” being the English translation of our surname “Ó Maonaigh”.
Mairéad is well known internationally through her music and work with the renowned Altan, String Sisters, T with the Maggies and also her solo work.
Ciarán is also well known internationally for his music through his playing with Caitlín & Ciarán and Fidil, and also as a solo musician, having achieved Ceoltóir Óg na Bliana (Young Musician of the Year) at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil.
Anna was a member of Macalla, the all women musical group, and has worked on television production, and organised Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy/The Frankie Kennedy Winter School, a school which was dedicated to the memory of Mairead’s late husband, flute player and founding member of Altan.
Gearóid was a member of Ceoltóirí Altain and Ragairne. He is always at the session in Hudí Beag’s bar in Bunbeg and is a founding member and organiser of Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy/The Frankie Kennedy Winter School.
On this new recording, Na Mooneys are joined by our co-producer, sound engineer and musician , Manus Lunny, and in who’s studio we recorded the album.
We also invited Caitlín Nic Gabhann to join us on a few tracks on concertina and foot percussion. She just happens to be married to Ciarán, so she is definitely family!
We also have Mairead’s daughter Nia, who happens to be the youngest of the clan, as a guest on a few songs and she also plays fiddle on a few tracks.
On this recording we have delved into our family repetoire and remembered the tunes and songs which we were brought up playing and singing when we first started.
We were reminded of tunes like, All the Way to Galway and The Moneymusk highlands, which we got from our father, who in turn learnt them from his mother Róise Bheag Róise Móire, who played the concertina and melodeon.
We learned our music and songs in the family home and at sessions in Huidi Beag’s pub in Bunbeg Co .Donegal and at various musical festivals around the country.
We have also focused on the strong Donegal fiddle tradition on this recording, getting unusual settings and varieties of tunes from personal field recordings and archival research.
There are a few newly composed pieces as in Ciaran’s march to his wife, Caitlín Nic Gabhann; “The Cavanman’s Daughter”; Mairead’s mazurka for her niece, Anna’s daughter, Róise Ní
Mhaonaigh and the melody of the song “A Óganaigh Óig ” , where we found the lyrics in an old collection of songs called ,”Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaibh Uladh”( Two hundred Ulster Songs).
Mairéad had composed the first part of the melody going to the studio and was completed in the studio before recording it helped by Manus and Anna!
We play our music on this album remembering those who have gone before us, especially Frankie Kennedy.
We dedicate this recording to our wonderful father, Francie Mooney.