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Altan are an Irish folk and traditional musical group, who originated in Gweedore, County Donegal.

History:
Frankie Kennedy used to travel from Belfast to Donegal in his summer holidays, learning Irish and playing music. There he met Mairad N Mhaonaigh. They married in 1981. They featured on the first of well known Belfast singer and Irish language enthusiast Albert Fry's three albums. Two years later they made their first album together, Ceol Aduaidh (Music of the North). N Mhaonaigh grew up in Irish-speaking Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair), learning to play fiddle from her father Francie Mooney, himself a noted fiddle player. At this time Donegal music was little known outside of the county. Kennedy's repertoire included a number of obscure northern flute tunes drawn from his travels in Tyrone and Fermanagh.

Donegal fiddle music has a drive in it, somewhat like Cape Breton music, due to the push given on both the upstroke and the downstoke. Playing late-night sessions and festivals, they gradually gathered around themselves talents that complemented their own skills. The first to join them was Ciarn Curran from Fermanagh, playing bouzouki. A novelty in 1969, by 1987 it was an accepted instrument for Irish music. Mark Kelly on guitar, was experienced in rock, blues, jazz, country and classical music. The four of them appeared on the first album, Altan, although Altan was not used as the name of the band until the follow-up, Horse With A Heart. The name comes from Lough Altan in north-western Donegal.

There then followed four albums recorded for Green Linnet Records, all of them selling well in the US Billboard charts as well as in Ireland. Another fiddler, Paul O'Shaughnessy, Dublin-born but steeped in the Donegal tradition from an early age as a result of schoolboy excursions to the Donegal Gaeltacht, was a member for several years. The sound of two fiddles in driving unison had become so essential to the band's idiom by this stage that when O'Shaughnessy departed, he was replaced by young Donegal fiddler Ciarn Tourish. Guitarist Dith Sproule also joined in 1992. There was a secret tragedy behind this wave of acclaim. Frankie Kennedy, who had been the band leader and manager, was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. At his insistence the band continued, with Kennedy taking part whenever possible. He died in 1994 in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

In 1996 they signed to a major label, Virgin, and added an accordion-player to the sound, Dermot Byrne, also from Donegal. Guests on Altan albums have included song-writer and guitarist Steve Cooney, Dnal Lunny from Planxty, blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt, and country singer Dolly Parton.

In 2001 Tourish and N Mhaonaigh contributed to the Afro Celt Sound System album Volume 3: Further in Time.

A winter school of music is now held in Donegal each year in honour of Frankie Kennedy. Altan remain the most successful proponents of traditional Gaelic song and Donegal fiddle-playing.

In 2003 they won the award for Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Members:
-Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh.
-Ciaran Curran.
-Ciaran Tourish.
-Dermot Byrne.
-Mark Kelly.
-Daithi Sproule.
Altan : p06836l6qx3
Altan : p06836l6qx3
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Altan : Altan-band-01
Altan : Altan-band-01
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Altan : Altan-band-02
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Altan : Altan-band-03
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