Garadice find Sanctuary via talent and connection

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

You wouldn’t want to be too sensitive as a member of the four-strong trad and folk group Garadice, because it’s obvious from the banter during their Tribune interview that they don’t take each other too seriously.

When it comes to their music, it’s a different story – but here too it would be a disadvantage to be sensitive. They had many frank discussions about how they wanted their latest album, Sanctury, to sound and these proved worthwhile. A mix of traditional and new tunes and songs, it’s terrific.

Sanctuary is the second album from Garadice which comprises Eleanor Shanley on vocals, Pádraig McGovern on uilleann pipes and flutes, John McCartin on guitar and bass, and Dave Sheridan on flute, accordion, keyboards, bodhrán and backing vocals.

All are highly regarded individually, and Garadice was among the nominees for Best Folk Group at Tuesday night’s RTÉ’s Folk Awards in Vicar Street.

Garadice grew out of the Leitrim Equation, a project initiated by Leitrim County Council and Arts Office to focus on music from that county.  When Eleanor, who now lives in Ballinasloe, was asked to take part, she invited the three lads.

They took their name from Lough Garadice in Leitrim, which has been in the news recently because of an Amazonian fish, a pacu, being found there.

For them, Lough Garadice rooted them in their native county as they began their creative journey.

“Eleanor and I had played together, and Dave and Pádraig and I had played together, so we all had an appreciation of each other’s music,” explains John.

Their first, self-titled album, released in 2018, grew out of the Leitrim Equation, for which they had collaborated on live gigs with Leitrim poet and playwright Vincent Woods and dancer Edwina Guckian.

When the project ended, Garadice continued and they began working on Sanctuary during lockdown. The title track is from a poem by Vincent, based on youthful memories, including of the Arigna coalmines.  Set to music set to music by Máirtín O’Connor, it was first recorded by the late Mary McPartlan – also from Leitrim but living in Galway – on her 2008 album, Petticoat Loose.

Eleanor is a professional singer while John is a businessman and Dave and Pádraig are teachers as well as musicians, so they have busy lives, But they made time to work on this album, listening to each other’s ideas from the start.

Pictured: John McCartin, Dave Sheridan, Eleanor Shanley and Pádraig McGovern of Garadice.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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