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Skara Brae – Music Group

Citation

Irish traditional music group Skara Brae formed in 1970 by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, and Dáithí Sproule. The Ó Domhnaill siblings grew up in Kells, Co. Meath, and their father Aodh Ó Domhnail was a musician, singer, and music collector from Rann na Feirste, Co. Donegal. As children, they were immersed in the language and culture of the area, and later met Sproule there while attending the Irish language summer school, during which they began singing and playing together.
Their only record Skara Brae, released in 1971 on Gael Linn Records, is considered a hugely significant album in the Irish music tradition. At the time of recording, Maighread was 15 years old, Tríona was 16 and Micheál and Dáithí were 19 and 20. Their style is rooted in Irish traditional music, but also included influences from rock and pop musicians such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez. The group blended these influences into seán-nós songs of Donegal – such as ‘An Cailín Rua’ and ‘An Saighdiúir Tréigthe’ – with unique harmonies and counter melodies on guitar and clavinet. The group disbanded in 1972 and each of the musicians went on to perform with groups such as The Bothy Band, Altan, Relativity, and Nightnoise among others. In December 2021, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta marked fifty years since the album’s release with a special programme including members of the group in the studio.