The Gap of Dreams

Altan: The Gap of Dreams
  1. The Gap of Dreams / Nia’s Jig / The Beekeeper
  2. The Month of January
  3. Seán sa Cheo / Tuar / Oíche Fheidhmiúil (A Spirited Night)
  4. Bacach Shíl Andaí
  5. The Piper in the Cave / An Ghaoth Aniar Aneas (The South-West Wind)
  6. Níon a’ Bhaoigheallaigh
  7. The Tullaghan Lasses / The Cameronian / The Pigeon on the Gate
  8. An Bealach Seo ‘Tá Romham (This Road Ahead of Me)
  9. Dark Inishowen
  10. The Templehouse Strathspey & Reel / John Mhosey McGinley’s / The Mermaid of Mullaghmore
  11. Cumha an Oileáin
  12. Port Alex
  13. Fare Thee Well, A Stór

After thirty years of playing on stages all over the world from Dublin to New York, Tokyo to Sydney, premier traditional Irish band, Altan came back to the hills of Donegal to record their new album, THE GAP OF DREAMS. The 13 tracks transport the listener to the lifestyle of rural Donegal, to a time before electricity when folks would gather together in the mists of winter to tell stories, sing songs and dance into the wee hours of the night. The music lifted the locals’ spirits and helped elevate them beyond the hardships of the day like famine, conflict and emigration. It is this spirit that informed the development of the band through their many phases of growth from a duo performing in pubs to international touring and recording artists.

The album title, THE GAP OF DREAMS, is borrowed from a poem by Francis Carlin, The Ballad of Douglas Bridge, in which he writes: “The Gap of Dreams is never shut,” referring to the gap between this world and the Otherworld. The Otherworld has always exerted a large influence on the fiddling tradition of County Donegal and has served as inspiration for song, music and folklore.

The album features many sets of traditional Donegal reels, such as Néilidh Boyle’s provocative composition, “Seán sa Cheo” (John in the Mist), as well as original compositions. Martin Tourish wrote two lively reels in the Donegal style: “Tuar,” which translates to “omen or sign,” and “Oíche Fheidhmuúil,” meaning “a spirited night.”

One of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s compositions for this album is a slip jig, which features as the title track, “The Gap of Dreams,” and is followed by two more. Mairéad’s daughter Nia Byrne wrote the first titled “Nia’s Jig,” and plays fiddle on the track. Mark Kelly’s son Sam penned the second, “The Beekeeper,” (logically named because it’s in the key of B!), and plays concertina on the track. Four of the songs are in Irish (Gaelic), which is Mairéad’s first language, and the language of the northwest of Donegal.

Back in their beloved landscape at Attica Studios in the townland of Termon, it seemed as if the inspiration of the beloved landscape spilled into the studio. With producers Michael Kenney and Tommy McLaughlin, the new album captures the essence that has continued to represent the hallmark of Altan’s music.


Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh: Vocals, fiddle
Ciarán Curran: Bouzouki
Dáithí Sproule: Guitar, vocals
Mark Kelly: Guitar, vocals
Martin Tourish: Piano accordion
with Tommy McLaughlin: Keyboards

Produced by Altan, Tommy McLaughlin and Michael Keeney
Executive producers – Howard Chu, Marian Moran
Recorded at Attica Audio Recording, Termon, Co. Donegal, Ireland
Engineered by Tommy McLaughlin, Michael Keeney and assisted by Karen Kelly
Mastered by Randy LeRoy at Tonal Park
Band photography by Gearóid Ó Maonaigh
Errigal photography by Lain Miller
CD artwork by Édaín O’Donnell

Altan 2018

More recordings

  • Altan Donegal cd cover
  • Altan: The Widening Gyre
  • Altan: The Poison Glen
  • Altan 25th Anniversary Concert CD
  • Altan: Local Ground
  • Altan :The Blue Idol
  • Altan: Another Sky
  • Altan: Runaway Sunday
  • Altan: Blackwater
  • Altan: Island Angel
  • Altan: Harvest Storm
  • Altan: The Red Crow
  • Altan: Horse with a Heart
  • Altan: The First Album
  • Altan: The First Ten Years
  • The Best of Altan: The Songs