Irish Music Magazine Reviews Sonda

An All–Ireland senior champion in various categories on pipes, flute and saxophone, Richard Neylon should be a familiar name. Neylon’s playing is memorable too, old style, grand tunes, big sets of powerful piping, and a few flute pieces to lighten the mix.
I’m not sure if An Buailteoir Aerach refers to a hurler or a beater, but either way it’s a belter of a reel to open this debut album. Catalina is a much gentler track, the flute intro layered with pipes and saxophone on Maurice Lennon’s Waltz. Richard also provides drums, with accordion from Stephen Doherty and fiddle from Fiachra Hayes. More reels, including Finbarr Dwyer’s Hollybush and the great old Cameronian, really show off the pipes in a flowing yet rhythmic performance, a touch of wildness combined with some tight closed fingering and staccato triplets.
The pace and control are exciting, exhilarating, and the accompaniment from Conor Early drives the tunes along. Relaxed low whistle delivers a gorgeous version of The Kilnamona Barndance, and I’d have kept the pipes and sax back until the punchy shift into Lucy Farr’s. Neylon does a fine job of being a one–man Irish skiffle band in the vein of At the Racket, sticking a snappy Jim Ward’s Jig on the end for good measure.
Having run through most of the colours in his repertoire on the concert pipes, Richard switches to a Rogge low B set for a pair of classic piping jigs, regulators and drones providing the only accompaniment, a real virtuoso performance in the bygone style of fairground pipers. And then round we go again: a set of reels, the slow air An Spéic Seoigheach, three very familiar slip jigs with concertina from James Frawley, plus a few more reels and jigs.
The title piece is by Neylon, perhaps combining his Irish and jazz influences, and starts a trio of jigs with a more modern feel and a surprise ending on the old favourite known variously as Father O’Flynn or The Top of the Cork Road.
On the other hand, the final lament Cumha Mhichil Breathnaigh on solo pipes is stately and moving, a wonderful piece of piping and a melody, which will stay with me I’m sure. Look out for the name Richard Neylon, and expect great things.
Alex Monaghan

Own Label, 12 Tracks, 55 Minutes

RTÉ Choice Music Prize 2017

Great to see that my debut album 'Sonda' has made the list for the RTE Choice Music Prize 2017.

The RTÉ Choice Music Prize is an organisation established to encourage, highlight, showcase and promote Irish music of excellence.

The ethos behind the prize is to stimulate debate and interest in Irish artists and in Irish Music and to increase public awareness of music from Ireland annually.

The RTÉ Choice Music Prize aims to promote and showcase the health and growth of the local industry both within Ireland and overseas.

The project was established in 2005 to highlight those albums which deserve some extra time in the spotlight and, ultimately, to select the album which best sums up the year in Irish music. The focus and spotlight is ultimately on the ten annual short-listed artists and their respective albums.

Each year, a panel consisting of 13 media and Industry professionals, representing Irish print, radio TV, on-line and other assembled music professionals select the RTÉ Choice Music Prize short-list. This consists of 10 albums released by Irish acts for the very first time in any given calendar year.

Instead of using sales or airplay as criteria, the RTÉ Choice Music Prize judges focus, simply and solely, on the music.

The RTÉ Choice Music Prize short-list is announced in January each year, with the judges meeting in March to select the winning act at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize live event.

Richard captures the magic of uilleann pipes with 'Sonda'


Connacht Tribune

December 21st, 2017

Arts Week with Dara Bradley

“You’re just trusting your own ear,” says multi-All-Ireland champion musician Richard Neylon about the process of composing an original piece of music. Sonda, Irish for sonorous, is a newly-composed tune; one of the highlights of Richard’s debut album of the same name, which will be officially launched in January.

The distinctive sound of Richard’s uilleann pipes, made by Cillian O’Briain and Andrea Rogge, sings beautifully on this recording.

“The translation for Sonda is a ‘voiced sound’. I wanted a word that would describe the sound, almost,” he says. “Sometimes you’d sit down and say ‘I want to write a piece’ and go through it mechanically almost. Other times you’d just be playing something and it would just come to you. Sonda came to me, just from playing around.

“I wrote that one a good few years ago when I was living in Dublin and I wasn’t able to practise the pipes really, because I was living in a house and the walls were like paper and there were neighbours everywhere,” he says of the tune. “When I got home from college or after work, I used to take out the whistle – something quieter – and I was just playing around with that, and bits of it came out and I put it together then.”

Richard’s parents, Des and Teresa, are both primary school teachers with an interest in music, which they passed onto their son. Now aged 31, he began playing piano in playschool growing up in Wellpark in Galway City, and then when the family moved out to Loughrea, he got involved with the local branch of Comhaltas.

It was there Richard developed a love of Irish music – and the uilleann pipes, in particular.

His first encounter with this uniquely Irish musical instrument came when he was 12 or 13, when pipe player and maker, Eugene Lambe from Kinvara, brought them to Comhaltas one day.

“He took them out of the case and started playing,” recalls Richard. “I just loved the sound. I thought it sounded cool. That’s my first memory of me saying, ‘yeah, I want to play the uilleann pipes’.”

He was taught by some great Galway pipers including Tommy Keane and Richard Murray of Oranmore, and attended regularly at piping summer schools around the country.


Album Launch Concert - January 6th 2018 - St. Nicholas Church, Galway

Album Launch.jpg

I'm delighted to announce that my official album launch concert will take place on Saturday the 6th January 2018.

The concert will be launched by RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta presenter Bríd Ní Chualáin. I will be joined on the night by an array of fantastic Irish musicians; Stephen Doherty (flute, accordion), Shane McGowan (guitar), Fiachra Hayes (fiddle), Andrew Neylon (songs), James Frawley (concertina) and many more surprise guests!

Doors @ 7.30pm.

The album 'Sonda' will be available for sale on the night.

Ballyhannon Castle Magic

A real treat it was to play at this intimate wedding in Ballyhannon Castle, Quin, county Clare.

What an amazing setting, and such a great idea to be able to hire out this fantastic castle for a wedding. The wedding ceremony was held by candlelight in The Great Room of the Castle.

The pipes felt right at home here..

Stephanie and Mike were kind enough to leave me with these lovely few words:


"Planning a destination wedding in Ireland from the United States came with its challenges, but Richard certainly was not one of them! We discovered him through a few online searches and knew immediately he was the musician for us! I walked down the aisle, or in my case, spiraling castle steps to ‘Ag Criost an tSiol’ and I still get chills down my spine thinking about it. No true words can explain the sound of Richard’s Uilleann Pipes echoing through a 15th century castle! Richard is a true professional and kind soul. He made our wedding day and ceremony truly unforgettable. Wish we could go back and do it all over again! Thank you Richard!”

-       Stephanie and Mike - Ballyhannon Castle June 2017

Titanic Dance

A throwback to the time I played with the fantastic production 'Titanic Dance' in the Odyssey Arena Belfast.  The Arena is host to many of the biggest names in music and sport and of course home to the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey team. An amazing experience to be backstage in this grand arena.

I was also lucky enough to perform with this show in the Millennium Forum in Derry and An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny.

The Auld Triangle

The song has great memories for me..

I played at an amazing festival in Tatihou, France with Freewheel some time ago. One of the most incredible places I've ever been. We put together an alternative setlist before the show, which included this song.. performed 'a cappella' by the four of us singing in harmony. We saved it for the last set, before a blast of jigs. You could hear a pin drop in between each of the verses. It was special, hair standing on the back of your neck stuff.

When we met people after the show, it was the one piece everyone spoke about. They wanted to hear it again!

Here it is, on uilleann pipes.

Merry Sisters Of Fate

So here's what I got up to on my Sunday evening..

I decided to try and record a reel on a few different instruments, while recording video of myself making the audio recordings. I've used Logic to record the audio and iMovie to put the video together. It's the first time I've used Apple's iMovie.. tricky enough to use. Trying to get all the videos to match the audio isn't as straight forward as it seems. After many 'Help' searches and 'how to' tutorials I managed to throw something together.

So here is the finished article. Hopefully I'll make a few more of these in the future.

Richard Neylon plays the 'Merry Sisters of Fate' Reel on Uilleann Pipes, Flute, Bodhran and Keyboard.

On Raglan Road

"On Raglan Road" is a well-known Irish song from a poem written by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh named after Raglan Road in BallsbridgeDublin. In the poem, the speaker recalls a love affair that he had with a young woman while walking on a "quiet street". Although the speaker knew that he would risk being hurt if he initiated a relationship, he did so anyway.

Freewheel play Galway Oyster Festival 2015

Freewheel are set to launch the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway on Saturday the 26th of September.

The festival will take place in the marquee at the Spanish Arch Galway after a parade through the town.

Tickets can be found by following the link below:

 - Oyster Festival Tickets

Freewheel consists of renowned fiddle player Fergal Scahill along with champion uilleann piper Richard Neylon. They will be joined on guitar and song by David Howley of We Banjo 3 and percussion maestro Eimhin Craddock - formerly of the Saw Doctors.

Sample Civil Wedding Ceremony

This is a general example of a civil wedding ceremony.

The layout here is very flexible and can be altered to suit your taste.

I have highlight the parts where there is music or song.

  • Entrance procession (Music - This is the big entrance, common pieces include "Gabriel's Oboe" or something Irish like "Tabhair dom do Láimh". Or else a song can work nice here e.g. "She Moves Through the Fair")
  • Opening Words by the celebrant. Can include the 'Giving in Marriage' speech here.
  • Music (e.g. Inis Oirr or a song)
  • First Reading
  • Lighting of the Wedding Candles (Music - something short here. This is played as the bride and groom are lighting their individual candles. I usually like to play a slow Irish reel on flute e.g. Absent Friends)
  • Definition of Marriage
  • Wedding Vows
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Music e.g. Ag Criost an tSiol
  • Lighting of Marriage Candle (Music - again this candle ceremony can be brief but it's nice to have some music playing as the bride and groom each take a light from their individual candles and light the marriage candle to symbolise their joining together. I like some Irish music here again e.g "Mo Ghile Mear")
  • Sand Ceremony (Music - something soft behind the celebrant talking )
  • Closing - poem or prayer
  • Declaration of Marriage (Music - something short and fanfare-like to announce the new couple to the room while they kiss e.g. Sí Beag Sí Mór)
  • Signing of the Register (Music - this is where everybody starts to get a bit rowdy as the bride and groom get to the business end of things and sign on the dotted line! Something loud and lively works here - I personally prefer some rousing jigs or reels)
  • Introduction of Newly Weds
  • Recessional/Dismissal (Music - the part where everybody waves the bride and groom out the door. Some options -  a Song "Fields of Gold", or a lively Irish jig "Haste to the Wedding") 

Panis Angelicus

Panis Angelicus is a beautiful hymn made famous by the likes of Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Charlotte Church.

The title 'Panis Angelicus' translates as 'Bread of Angels'.

It is a song that I'm regularly asked to play at wedding ceremonies.

Here is my version of the hymn played on the Irish Uilleann Pipes.

Irish Piper @ Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Clare

Something keeps drawing me back to County Clare. It must be that my father came from this part of the country. I feel I have a special connection to the place. I love Spanish Point, it has a sort of holiday vibe to it. It's only a few minutes drive from Miltown Malbay, where I spent many a summer attending the Willie Clancy Piping Festival. The Armada Hotel itself is a popular one for weddings and music gigs, and it's easy to see why.

We were unlucky with the weather today. What usually is a stunning location for a wedding instead was covered in black clouds. Still, never let it be said that bad weather ruined any good Irish party. This is the first wedding I played for where the bride and groom were invited up after the desert to officially "cut the cheese". Thankfully for everyone involved it had no relation to the release of noxious gases, but instead involved the newlywed couple cutting into a fine block of cheese. An interesting tradition! The cheese was served later on in the night during the band break - a nice touch.

The music went off without a hitch and everyone stayed dancing well into the night. Another great night down in the Banner county. I'm sure I'll be back again soon!