Meitheal album cover
Séamus Begley & Stephen Cooney

It's still early days, but this could be my favourite album of 1996. Meitheal (an Irish term for coming together to do a job) throws together Séamus Begley, a very traditional accordion player from Kerry, with Steve Cooney, a rambler and ex-rock guitarist from Australia has produced a brilliant fusion of energy and tradition, with neither being compromised by the other. Most of the tracks are traditional dance tunes, featuring fast and furious polkas ('polcas') and slides native to the Kerry region, with Begley on the accordion, accompanied by by Cooney's guitar. These two really know how to play for dancers, and in fact the last set is a live one from a dancing session in a Kerry pub. Begley also sings a number of songs in Irish, in a traditional, unpretentious style. There's also a light-hearted break with the tradition as the two perform an Elizibethan galliard, with Cooney's guitar doing a very good lute line.
Who are they like? For energy and vibrance, I'd put them toe to toe with Sharon Shannon any day, though the music is more traditional and even more get-up-and-dance. Check out the audio tracks below, they'll give you a good idea of the sound.

Begley & Cooney Profile


Here are some cuts from the album, all about 20-30 seconds long. The au format gives a compressed, but pretty high quality sample, while the ra (RealAudio) format gives a much quicker download (average file size is about 50k, compared with 300k for the au samples), at the expense of sound quality; the noisy background and slight distortion are not present in the CD! Try the audiohelp file for information on how to set up your browser to play audio files.

Track listing

  1. Magic Slipper / The Strathnairn / Johnny Leary's (polcas)
  2. An Chóisir / The Lisheen Slide / Eibhlín ni Riordáin's / Kings of Kerry (slides)
  3. Máirín de Barra (song)
  4. My Lady Hunsdon's Galliard (Elizabethan galliard)
  5. The Newly Mown Meadow / Lord Ramsey's (reels)
  6. Donncha Lunch's / Dul Dtí's Na Ráiseanna / John McKenna's (polcas)
  7. Bruach na Carraige Báine (song)
  8. John Brosnan's (reel)
  9. Hughie Travers' / Tomaisín a' Rí / Sean Coghlan's Kesh (jigs)
  10. Beir mo Dhúthracht (song)
  11. Japanese Hornpipe / Tá Mo Mhadra (hornpipe / slide)
  12. Julia Clifford's / Tá Dhá Ghabhairín Bhuí Agam / Cuz Teehan's (polcas)
  13. Biddy from Sligo / Ceol a Mhála / Oró Buachaillín Seol Do Bhó (slides)

Ordering Info

Meitheal is available on Kells Music (KM-9504). It is available to Ceolas visitors at a special price of $16, which includes shipping and handling. You can order by calling 1-800-854-3746 or 516-328-7800; just tell them you saw it on Ceolas. For further information on Begley & Cooney and Kells Music, call or write to:

Kells logo Kells Music
64 New Hyde Park Road
Garden City, NY 11530-3909

You can also order it online from CDUniverse.
In Ireland, Meitheal is available on Hummingbird Records (HR-004).

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