Brian Boru The High King of Tara



Brian Boru - The High King of Tara
Strocktons Wing Live - Take One
The Collection - STOCKTONS WING
The Best of Irish Jigs, Reels & Songs (3 CD set) - STOCKTONS WING
The Crooked Rose - STOCKTONS WING
Stockton's Wing - Jigs, Reels & Songs

Associated Pages


Sleevenotes & Audio Clips
(Click Cover to see Sleevenotes)

With Attention Deficit Disorder seemingly rampant among artists and audiences alike these days, it's the brave musician who would embark on a musical project that extends beyond the 3 minute holy grail. Maurice Lennon has never been a musician to shy away from that particular challenge. His long years of apprenticeship with Stockton's Wing (phenomenally successful in the early 80's), and his impeccable genetic and geographical inheritance (son of the renowned Ben, nephew of Charlie Lennon, and flagbearer for the tradition in Leitrim) have served him well. These days, Maurice Lennon sets his sights on the broad canvas, all the better to dig deep into the tradition and marry it with the 21st century music that coarses through his own veins.

Brian Boru: The High King of Tara sees Lennon embarking on his most ambitious project to date. A musical portrait of Boru, a 10th Century Irish hero who defended his country against the pillaging Vikings, Lennon's sweeping suite captures the passion, the terror and the sheer villainy and epic heroism of the times with all the laconic ease that we've grown accustomed to expect from this most understated of fiddlers and composers.

Swing shifting from the mournful to the celebratory in the opening piece, 'Brian's Theme', Lennon's fiddle marks Boru's territory and his charismatic leadership with mantra-like chord sequences, bolstered by Noel Eccles' tiptoeing percussion. From the opening sequence, it's the organic ensemble playing that leaves the deepest impression. Orchestral in its sweep, yet more akin to the cosiness of the session in its tone, this is a musical journey that would welcome entreaties from snug and concert hall alike.

Historical accuracy is a lynchpin of Brian Boru. Painstakingly retracing key events such as the burning of Boruma - a ring fort on the west bank of the Shannon near present-day Killaloe - and gathering the Dal gCais, or faithful followers, rise to a gallop, fueled by Máirtín O'Connor's trademark featherlite accordion, and Anthony Drennan's lithe guitar. Donal Lunny lends his customary conglomeration of offerings from bouzouki to bodhrán, guitar, keyboards and vocals, while Brian Lennon's flutes and whistles cross-stitch their way through the tunes with the agility of a Juillard graduate.

Then there's Sean Keane's guest vocals, sparingly applied and pitch perfect on 'Aisling', an ode to the unfailing commitment Boru felt for his native land, replete with foreboding for the impending triumph and tragedy that was the Battle of Clontarf.

Maurice Lennon's meticulous scholarship and creative energy are what define Brian Boru: The High King Of Tara. This collection is a confluence of musical and historical passions that reaps richly from the seeds Lennon has sown. Creative peaks seldom rise from nothing, and Maurice Lennon's been tipping around its perimeter for long enough to know a gemstone when he uncovers one.

Reflective, restorative music. Balm for the soul and fodder for the imagination.


"There must be something in the Lennon Genes; they've been great exponents of the Leitrim style of traditional music for decades and now Maurice has finalised a 20-year old idea. This is a musical biography of Brian Boru, certainly the greatest of the High Kings of Ireland. Whatever about his methods, he certainly made the office something to be reckoned with. No Ard Rí before or since, made such an impact. We remember the battle of Clontarf in 1014 the way the Scots remember 1314, and the English remember 1966.
With the exception of Brian Boru's March', which is given the menacing treatment it deserves, and extracts from an ancient poem said to have been written by Brian's own bard, this is all Lennon's own work. The tunes are traditional in style, but they translate into something much deeper, I suppose it would have been easy enough to shoehorn tunes into place, but there's plainly been a lot of thought gone into this work. It hangs together really well.
There are more instruments on this than you'd find at a fleadh, played by the cream of the crop of musicians. There's not one I wouldn't trust with my favourite tune. This has the feel of a concert version of a much more complex production; I'd like to see it as an open-air show. If Bill Whelan's listening....
This isn't a CD to dip into; it needs to be heard as a complete work. Pour a glass of Jameson's or, better still, open a bottle of Tyrconnel, and immerse yourself in a dark and bloody episode of Irish history."

Mick Furey - The Living Tradition

"I don’t know why but on ‘Brian’s Theme’ the opening track of Maurice Lennon’s Brian Boru project I’ve got the song ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ running through my head. But I digress. This is an album that has obviously been a labour of love full of subtle nuances and decorative interweaving of rhythm changes. This isn’t a case of just being clever for the sake of it as the palette of musical colours creates an aural soundscape. With Maurice’s fiddle at the helm surround by such luminaries as Donal Lunny, Mairtin O’Connor and Anthony Drennan (taking time off from his role in The Corrs) you couldn’t really fail. Noel Eccles brooding percussion is used to full effect throughout without overwhelming the listener with heavy-handed intrusion. In fact, the whole album is wonderfully restrained and brings back memories of the Irish TV programme The Session. On the vocal tracks ‘Aisling’ and ‘My Reign Is Over’ Maurice! sounds uncannily like Dick Gaughan leaving you wondering why he didn’t include more. OK, so it’s not an album that will push the musical boundaries in say the way Stockton’s Wing did when they were going but it is a worthy contribution to any Celtic music collection."

Live Review Maurice Lennon Glór Centre Ennis Co Clare Saturday May 25th 2002
"Having read Morgan Llywelyn 's historical novel 'Lion of Ireland ' some twenty years ago ex Stockton's Wing fiddler Maurice Lennon has been fascinated by the legend that was Brian Boru. His one wish in all that time was to try to put his life story to music. His desire has been fulfilled with the release of his first solo album Brian Boru -The High King of Tara. A 'concept' album telling in music (with some words) the life story of Brian Boru -it highlights Maurice Lennon's giftedness as a musician and composer within a neo -traditional vein.
The first public concert airing of Brian Boru -The High King of Tara took place in Ennis' new Glór Centre on Saturday May 25th 2002 as the Flagship evening concert of this year's Fleadh Nua. Coming into Glór and eying its amenities-a long theatre bar, a gallery and the auditorium one cannot but be impressed. Ennis at last has a concert venue on par with any major arts centre/theatre in Ireland, up to now a sorely lacking amenity in a town so renowned for traditional music.
The second, half was devoted to Maurice Lennon's epic work Brian Boru The High King of Tara. While the first half radiated the relaxed informality of Comhatas concerts, this half was a fully concentrated contemporary work. Maurice Lennon's majestic fiddle lead Kincora a full band complete with Rod Quinn's extensive percussion array, Seamus Brett's keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, uilleann pipes, flute and accordion. When listening to Brian Boru The High King of Tara on disc shades of Donal Lunny, Shaun Davey and Bill Whelan's epic compositions seep through occasionally. However, Maurice Lennon's work is imbued with a greater concentration of the melodic nuances of traditional music. The Burning of Boruma and Gathering of the Dal gCais hit supreme traditional/contemporary fusion form while St. Patrick's Cross bathed in its melodic simplicity. Introducing vocalist Sean Keane for the gently resigned My Reign is Over, the event took on a fresh new colour. The lack of songs had not been noticed until then but Keane's brief cameo was short sweet and stunning in that order.
While Brian Boru The High King of Tara scales the musical heights, to make the proverbial good thing better leads me to the following conclusion-the possibility of using a narrator for live concerts could be investigated to heighten the sense of occasion and help an audience unfamiliar with the subject matter enter fully into the underlying concept.
For Maurice Lennon the realisation of Brian Boru -the High King of Tara both on CD and on stage is a triumph on a personal as well as creative level. The adaptation of Brian Boru -the High King of Tara for stage presentation marks his re-emergence both as a composer and a musician. However, the treatment of the project from here on in is what will mark its rise or fall - tonight was an impressive start but much of Brian Boru -the High King of Tara's future success and viability lies in the efforts made to reach out and capture a wider general audience. Musically Brian Boru -the High King of Tara contains work of immense compositional worth and value but this show screams for a marketplace such as a Lorient, Celtic Connections or Celtic Colours premiere-such is its major stance- anyone out there willing to rise to the challenge? "
© John O'Regan June 2002

"Qui, s'intéressant un tant soit peu à l'Histoire de l'Irlande, n'a entendu parler de Brian Boru, le grand roi de Tara, surnommé le Lion d'Irlande? C'est en 1002 que Brian Boru se fit proclamer roi d'Irlande, Il y a 1.000 ans exactement. Et c'est l'année du millénaire qu'a choisie Maurice Lennon pour commémorer l'histoire de ce roi de légende.

Originaire du Co. Leitrim dans le nord-ouest, Maurice Lennon est un fiddler reconnu dans le monde de la musique irlandaise, qui a fondé dans les années 80 le célèbre groupe Stockton's Wing. Depuis toujours il compose musique et chansons. Bill Whelan, Cherish The Ladies ou Natalie McMaster comptent parmi les interprètes de sa musique.

Brian Boru voit Maurice lennon s'embarquer dans un ambitieux projet : un portrait musical en 12 tableaux du héros irlandais du X siècle. Pour ce faire il s'est adjoint les services de quelques amis et non des moindres. Donal Luny en multi-instrumentiste et producteur, dont on reconnait incontestablement la "patte". Mais aussi Máirtín O'Connor, Noël Eccles ou Anthony Drennan... ainsi que le chanteur Sean Keane.

Bref, une bien belle fresque historique qui se conclut pars les vers du barde de Brian Boru, ecrits juste après la mort de ce dernier."
Philippe COUSIN - le peuple breton

Brian Boru: A Musical Portrait
Largely based on the novel “Lion of Ireland” by Morgan Llywelyn, “Brian Boru” depicts the life story of the most famous of all the High Kings of Ireland through music and song. Composed by fiddler Maurice Lennon (former member of Stockton’s Wing), the actual performance of this musical biography is in the hands of the usual suspects, who include Donal Lunny, Mairtin O’Connor and Anthony Drennan, as well as a welcome guest appearance by Sean Keane. The Donal Lunny influence is most tangible – he leaves an indelible stamp on every project he touches.
Undulating between glory, triumph and grief, the musical content is vast. The accompanying notes are useful for those not in the know about the history of Brian Boru, in that they provide a guideline to the process, musical and biographical. The opening track, “Brian’s Theme” is glorious, full of hope and expectation, with fiddle, percussion and Uilleann Pipes taking control. “Stone of Destiny” is perhaps the most instantly accessible of all the tracks, and marks the great occasion of Boru’s coming to the throne. The unfaltering march of “Tree of Sorrows” depicts the infamous and tragic battle of 1014, and Lennon captures the emotion of the event most aptly.
The downfall, of course, on a set of works such as this, is that the individual qualities of the musicians rarely get the chance to penetrate the sound as a whole. Nonetheless this album is, undoubtedly, packed full with high class playing and beautiful melodic moments. A great soundtrack to a life. Jennifer Byrne - World Music Portal

Brian Boru, a musical journey for Maurice Lennon

After 20 years in a successful traditional band like Stockton's Wing, what's a man to do?

That's what fiddle player Maurice Lennon wondered to himself after he parted company with the band about five years ago.
"All good things must come to an end" he told the Longford News "I'd had enough and it was time to move on."
But he didn't sit on his rear for long. Soon he was working with Sean Keane, whom he describes as "an amazing vocalist".
But after two years doing that, he went back to something that had been floating around his head for a long time.
"Years ago, when I was in Stockton's Wing, I read a book by an American, Morgan Llywelyn, called Lion of Ireland. It was about Brian Boru.
Morgan is really well known in the States and has sold 40 million books.
I loved the book and it was on my mind that some day I would put the story to music. And that's what I have been doing for the past two years."
Along with Donal Lunny, and other well known musicians, including Anthony Drennan (who plays with The Corrs), Maurice has been working on his latest production, an album called Brian Boru, A Musical Portrait

For Maurice, the electrical guitar represents the spirit of the land, and the fiddle represents Brian Boru, which is why the two are the main instruments used on the album.

"Brian Boru stood for an awful lot that was quintessentially Irish. And there's much more to him than someone who just died in the battle of Clontarf." "He was crowned High King 1,000 years ago this year, and this has not been commemorated."
Maurice's immediate plans are to bring his unusual album, which tells the story, track by track, of Brian Boru, to America, where, he believes, there is a growing market and a lot of interest.
Conor McHugh - Longford News

"Maurice lennon's new album, 'Brian Boru - The High King of Tara', is a musical portrait of the great man, and features an impressive line-up of Musicians.
The album has an all-star cast. Lennon is a relation of Leitrim fiddle player Charlie Lennon and was a member of Stockton's Wing. The album was produced by Donal Lunny, and features Mairtín O'Connor and Sean Keane.
As befits a 'concept ' album, the music is epic, and cinematic in its sweep, yet, there is no trace of self indulgence. The music always sounds powerful, emotional and purposeful. The main melodic themes are led by Lennon's fiddle playing which impresses throughout and shows a great stock of fresh ideas.
The opening track 'Brian's Theme' sums up all of these qualities as does 'The Burning of Boruma', 'Lá Ollamh' and a powerful reading of the venerable 'Brian Boru's March'. There are a number of rock influences, but this is kept to a minimum allowing the traditional music to shine through. Sean Keane also provides beautiful vocals on 'Aisling' and 'My Reign is Over'.
Whether Brian Boru joins O'Riarda's Míse Éire or Shaun Davey's The Relief of Derry Symphony in the stakes of great musical interpretations of Irish history remains to be seen, but no doubt a live performance with the same personnel as on the album would be some event. As an album of modern trad, Lennon can be justifiably proud of this work."

Galway Advertiser

A HUGELY interesting suite from the mind of a Major fiddler....It dose however successfully integrate modernism to several fine tunes excellently played, particularly on fiddle. Donal Lunny is the production hand, with a strong colouring from Noel Eccles' percussion and Mick O'Brien and Mikey Smith on uilleann pipes.
Fintain Vallely - Sunday Tribune - (4 star rating)

"Maurice Lennon, one time member of Stockton's Wing, stays true to his trad roots on this CD. He embarks on an ambitious task of depicting 10th Century Irish hero Brian Boru in a musical style that blends traditional with some classical and contemporary influences. Maurice's great strength lies in his ability for storytelling and depicting history through his music."
Woman's Way

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