Songs of the Scribe

About ‘Songs of the Scribe’

Songs of the Scribe


Label: Ceoltaí Éireann

Runtime: 48:23

Buy ‘Songs of the Scribe’ directly to help support independent music :)

“The world is with us yet, the primal unspoiled world of clear water, clear air and birdsong; it lives in our oldest and in our newest poems and songs, and if it lives it is because great souls have still the power to cut through and back to the original wells. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin is one of those inner voyagers, an archaeologist of the spirit world, a keeper of tradition, a maker of what is new and will be enduring. There is something uncanny about her ability to sound beauty in her singing, to find the phrase, the art and sympathy that resounds in the attentive soul. These are songs to revive and cleanse the spirit, songs of pure joy.”

Theo Dorgan


Release credits

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin – vocals, drones, bells
Helen Davies – Irish harp, wire-strung harp, monochords, Tibetan bowl
Thomas Li – recording/mixing



Album reviews

“Songs of the Scribe has been my constant companion these last few weeks. No matter how many times I listen to it, it sends me plunging straight into forever. Pádraigín is an Irish traditional singer with a voice as clear as a bell, whose grasp of the ancient bardic tradition – informed by both intuition and great learning – is evidently profound. On this unique CD she has set to music ancient Irish poems dating from the 9th to the 12th centuries, which are rendered into the most beautiful modern translations by herself, and the poets Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson. The musical settings are simple, pure and breathtakingly lovely. The words of the poems are just perfect – simple seeming, but suggestive of so many deep and mystical meanings that you find yourself in a state of peace, stillness and heart-openness just from listening to them.”

Ann Napier, Cygnus Books

“‘Songs of the Scribe’ is a uniquely delightful work, because of the beauty of the singing and the accompanying bell tones and bowl tones; because of the sweetness and sureness and clarity of the voice and voicing; because of the way the integrity of the verse line is respected; because of the singer’s at-homeness with the poems, in the music and in the modes. Naturally I am proud and privileged to have my translations included and to be linked into the whole enterprise so significantly. The notes to the poems are unostentatiously authoritative and the variety of treatment – as in the different renderings of Ciaran Carson’s blackbird and mine, or the chant mode of the Amergin vision, or the kept accent of ‘Pangúr Bán’ – makes listening a totally absorbing experience.”

Seamus Heaney

“The contemplative side of our music has been overshadowed by its dance tunes and big songs, with their emphasis on the social. On Songs of the Scribe, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, traditional singer-in-residence at Queen’s University’s Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, delves deep into the history of our monastic tradition to dramatic effect. Her bell-clear voice serves a rich repertoire of incantations, love songs and lamentations, and her choice of Tibetan bowl and harp (from Helen Davies), drones and bells for accompaniment is pitch perfect. Works by both Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson are lovingly honed by Ní Uallacháin’s voice: in particular, her treatment of the iconic poem The Blackbird of Belfast Lough is a minimalist treasure. Switzerland’s St. Gallen’s monastery yields many riches, which singer and harpist pick with great delicacy, melding poetry and music across millennia with a sinuous grace and elegance.”

Siobhan Long, The Irish Times



mp3 01. The Hermit’s Wish (Dúthracar, a maic Dé bí)
mp3 02. The Blackbird of Belfast Lough (Int én bec)
mp3 03. The Scribe in the Woods (Domfharcaí fidbaide fál)
mp3 04. Líadan’s Lament (Mé Líadan)
mp3 05. The Land of Stars (A bé find)
mp3 06. The Wind is Wild this Night (Is acher in gáith in-nocht)
mp3 07. The Incantation of Amergin (Am gaeth i m-muir)
mp3 08. Pangur Bán (Mise ocus Pangur Bán)
mp3 09. My Hand is Cramped with Penwork (Is scíth mo chrob ón scríbainn)
mp3 10. My Mind’s Desire (Ropo mian menmainse)