AENGUS is comprised of brothers Tony and Jackie Small from Galway, and Garry O Briain, a Dubliner now settled in north Clare. For this recording they are joined by Maurice Lennon who comes from Co. Leitrim and is presently studying in Galway.
Tony here sings two songs concerned with lovemaking, one, "The Bonny Blue Handkerchief", involving a decorous exchange of tokens, the other, "The Card Game", metaphorically more frankly erotic an encounter. "Seven Irish Boys", to which Tony fitted the tune himself, testifies to the unruly origins of Irish involvement in American democracy. The song in praise of Mullingar, solemn or silly as it may be, is from that period when balladmakers wrote with the rhythms and rhymes of the Irish language in a stilted and curious English.
Jackie plays a concert pitch set of Uilleann pipes made by Allen Ginsberg and on "The Card Game" a Bp chanter by him. The version he plays here of the well-known "When The Cock Crows" is from the playing of the late Willie Clancy. The jig portion of this piece can be found in print in "The Dance Music Of Willie Clancy" by Pat Mitchell.
Garry, a much-travelled man with a wide spectrum of musical interests, plays the mandocello, a large member of the mandolin family, bearing the same relation to the mandolin as the cello does to the violin. He currently inhabits the Burren in North Clare where he is actively concerned in the collection and preservation of local musical and spoken lore.
The group are privileged to have with them on this record Maurice Lennon, member of a distinguished family in Irish traditional music. His father Ben and uncle Charlie are, singly and in duet, among the most highly respected fiddlers in the country. Maurice is, of course, the current holder of the All-Ireland senior fiddle Championship, won at the Ennis Fleadh in 1977 and, in fact, his solo piece on this record is the reel set he played at the competition.