Although music is a life-long passion, Dónal's professional background is in Law. Today he works mostly as a freelance singer in a range of genres - particularly folksong. In 2015, he founded VOCALISM, a community platform promoting cultural events and civic engagement across Ireland.
Someone once told me not to fixate on expectations of Irish music or ‘Irishness’ but, instead, to make my own tradition. This sentiment has remained with me. Since joining Anúna in 2012, I’ve asked myself about my own reasons for singing and about my own heritage.
I studied Law until a few years ago, but I have always loved singing and I've been listening to Anúna for as long as I can remember. Michael McGlynn's music is special and to perform it is addictive. The longer I know the pieces, the more they affect me, and my appreciation for Anúna today begins with the words.
The songs tell the most wonderful stories: of life in Ireland and beyond, of love, of youth, of god. These are human stories that tell us about ourselves. The words bring the singers closer to the listener. I'm intrigued by this connection between performer and audience.
For me, music is a vital way for people to express their shared humanity and - to paraphrase the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights (spot the Law nerd!) - music can “give meaning to their existence, build their worldviews”.
The songs give the audience a momentary glimpse of something else - something timeless and personal. If the soul exists, this might be what the audience sees, hears, feels. As fiddler Martin Hayes has said, music provides for “freedom, the need to be spontaneous, the need to be present”.
Anúna's singers generate an energy “that is human, honest, immediate, strong and yet sometimes achingly fragile” and Michael McGlynn's music provides a vehicle through which to express ourselves. I respond to the world by singing. Anúna is a unit of individuals saying something about themselves, each in his or her own way, together.