Review: Tracing a Life’s Path

A new review published in the Journal of Music last week, of Johnny Óg Connolly’s beautiful and heartfelt tribute to his late father, An Cosán Draíochta, named after an Irish phrase meaning “the magical path.” It originally referred to the path connecting the island of Connolly Sr’s birth, Inis Bearacháin, to Conamara on the west coast of Ireland. The path could be walked at low tide, but the phrase quietly takes on a number of meanings

This is a work both mournful and cathartic. The idea of a magical path informs so much of the journey of the performance. Several times, Connolly returns to a slow tune named after Inis Bearacháin, and each time the music finds a unique path to escape to a brighter tune. This has often been my experience of concerts of traditional music, especially more formal ones like this; darker moods are met with sincerity and understanding, but are never made to seem permanent. You mourn, and then you live.