CD A0644: Duopoly

Cormac de Barra and Anne-Marie O'Farrell

CD coverFollowing on from the critical acclaim of their last album, Double Strung, this latest release from the dynamic harp duo Cormac De Barra and Anne-Marie O’Farrell showcases the best of the Irish harp. It features newly composed traditional tunes by Anne-Marie O’Farrell, fresh and lively duetting on both gut and wire strung harps, in addition to the songs in Irish, An Fhallaingín Mhuimhneach and the ever popular work-song, Amhrán na Cuiginne. The central role of Turlough O’Carolan in the canon of Irish harp repertoire is honoured here too, with an arrangement for musical quizzers of Carolan’s Sir Festus Burke concealing no fewer than five other Carolan tunes, alongside the pairing of Charles O’Connor and the graceful Lord Inchiquin for wire strung harp duet. Solos include the beautiful famine air, Johnny Seoige played by Cormac, while Anne-Marie plays her new pedal harp arrangement of Isaac Albeniz’ classic, Asturias.

Buy this album now    CD: £12.00 + p&p

Please click here for Anne-Marie O'Farrell profile & discography
Please click here for Cormac de Barra profile & discography

Track Listing & Audio Samples


  1. An Fhallaingín Mhuimhneach arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  2. Sir Festus Burke by Carolan arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  3. Johnny Seoighe (solo by Cormac) arr. De Barra
  4. The Rollicking Goldfish/The Independent Hornpipe arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  5. Asturias by Isaac Albeniz, arr. O’Farrell
  6. Charles O’Conor & Lord Inchiquin by Carolan arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  7. Six Inches East of the Moon & The Astronaut’s Dilemma by O’Farrell arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  8. Amhrán na Cuiginne (with Banish Misfortune) arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  9. Port na bPúcaí arr. O’Farrell/De Barra
  10. Braziliera by Darius Milhaud arr. O’Farrell
  11. Ballaí Dún Droma/The Orphan/Tom Billy’s arr. O’Farrell/De Barra

CD Notes

Sleeve Notes

1. An Fhallaingín Mhuimhneach arr. O'Farrell, De Barra
A song in praise of the Munster cloak with its fine display of colours.

2. Sir Festus Burke by Carolan arr. O'Farrell, De Barra
One of the numerous airs composed by Carolan for the Burke family Bunting noted this air from harper Charles Fanning and the subject is Festus Burke, the 5th Baronet of Glinsk, Co Galway. This duet arrangement interweaves themes of five other Carolan runes in counterpoint with the main melody.

3. Johnny Seoighe (solo by Cormac) arr. De Barra
This is the air to one of the few famine songs that have been passed on in the oral tradition. Johnny Seoighe was the famine relief officer in Carna, Connemara. The author of the song is asking him for help after he and his family have been turned away from the workhouse.

4. The Rollicking Goldfish / The Independent Hornpipe arr. O’Farrell, De Barra
The first of this pair of hornpipes was written for Anne-Marie’s son, Robbie in tribute to a very spirited goldfish. The Independent Hornpipe was first published in volume 1 of the Feis Ceoil Collection in 1914. Also known as The Independence Hornpipe, it has been said that it was composed after the USA gained independence from the British Empire in 1776.

5. Asturias by Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) arr. O’Farrell
Originally written for piano in 1892 as the Prelude from Chants d'Espagne, this piece features scales and rhythms which are typical of Andalusian folk music. This arrangement for harp uses enharmonic effects based in the key of E minor to better suggest the sound of the Spanish guitar.

6. Charles O’Conor & Lord Inchiquin by Carolan arr. O’Farrell, De Barra
Charles O'Conor was the eldest son of Denis O'Conor, head of the house at Belanagare. Charles was taught the harp by Carolan and he is the writer of the diaries from which we have learned much of Camlan’s own life story. The tune Lord Inchiquin was noted down by Bunting in 1792. O’Sullivan states that the subject of this melody is doubtless the 4th Earl of Inchiquin who succeeded to the title in December 1719. The family seat was Dromoland Castle in Co Clare. It is probable that Carolan composed this piece on his visit to Rev. Charles Massey in nearby Doonass.

7. Six Inches East of the Moon & The Astronaut’s Dilemma by O’Farrell arr. O’Farrell, De Barra These two slow reels are composed by Anne-Marie and make their recording debut here. The first combines modes typical of Irish folk music, while the second uses pentatonic or five-note shapes in the tune to reflect the Irish character.

8. Amhrán na Cuiginne (with Banish Misfortune) arr. O'Farrell, De Barra
A work song for churning butter in which a mother encourages her child to climb upon the stool and join in the work. The interlude between verses is the well known piping jig, Banish Misfortune.

9. Port na bPúcaí arr. O’Farrell, De Barra
In the folklore of Corca Dhuibhne, West Kerry, it is said that two Blasket Island musicians heard this air carried on the wind from neighbouring Inis Mhic Uileain and that it was the ‘Púcaí’ or ghosts who were playing it.

10. Braziliera by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) arr. O’Farrell
This is the third movement of Scaramouche op. 165b, a work originally written for two pianos in 1937. It was first recorded in the 1940s, and is published by Salabert, Paris. Milbaud later made versions for saxophone and clarinet with piano.

11. Ballai Dun Droma / The Orphan / Tom Billy’s arr. O’Farrell, De Barra
The first of these three jigs is composed by Anne-Marie in tribute to her home area, Dundrum, while the second, The Orphan (An Dilleachta) is a variant of a jig by Muiris Cuinn from Dun Son in Corca Dhuibhne. The final tune, Tom Billy’s, is a Sliabh Luachra jig named after its composer, Tom Billy Murphy, from Ballydesmond in County Cork. He was a well-known, blind fiddler who travelled the country on a donkey’s back over a century ago.


CD Credits


Mastered and engineered by: Fionán de Barra
Assistant engineer: Aisling Jarvis
Photography and sleeve design: Tim Jarvis
Anne-Marie plays a 38-string Salvi Livia harp, a Salvi Diana pedal harp and a wire strung harp made by the late Colm Ó Meachair.
Cormac plays a Salvi Egan harp, a Salvi Aurora pedal harp and a wire strung harp made by Phillip Murray.

Our warmest thanks to: Moya Brennan, Tim Jarvis, Ray Comiskey, Maureen Simpson, Aibhlín McCrann & Cairde na Cruite, An Grianán in Termonfeckin, Melissa at, and all who have been so instrumental in helping us thus far...

Gratefully dedicated to the memory of Mercedes Garvey and Colm Ó Meachair

Album Information

Instruments: Harp
Genre: Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0644
MCPS: CD1907
Label: Anne-Marie O'Farrell / Cormac de Barra
Year: 2014
Origin: Ireland

Duo profile

Anne-Marie O’Farrell
As a soloist, Anne-Marie’s unique levering techniques on Irish Harp and her commitment to the development of its repertoire have led to performances throughout Europe, the USA, Scandinavia, Russia and Japan. As harpist, composer and pedagogue she is regularly invited to present at international festivals and her works have been performed and broadcast on many continents.

Click here for Anne-Marie O'Farrell's profile & discography

Cormac De Barra
Cormac is the third generation of harpers in his family. As well as a solo career that has taken him around the globe, Cormac has also recorded and toured with a number of Irish artists including Clannad, Brian Kennedy, Julie Feeney, Maire Breatnach and Hazel O’Connor. He performs in a family trio, Barco, with his brothers Fionan and Eamonn and has released two CDs in collaboration with Moya Brennan.

Click here for Cormac de Barra's profile & discography