Irish Music Magazine (August 2014)

Ruth Keggin is a singer, flautist and whistle-player with the Manx band Nish As Rish, a group well established in the Isle of Man and gaining more and more attention abroad. They won the Trophée Loic Raison for best new group at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient 2011, and are planning a tour of Norway in the Spring of 2015.

Ruth is Manx Gaelic singer and passionate about bringing Manx music and language to a wider audience. Sheear (‘Westward’) is her debut solo album and features traditional and contemporary Manx Gaelic songs. The release of the CD in February 2014 was followed by a mini Irish tour which she shared with the Scottish Gaelic group Dàimh.

Ruth’s singing and her songs are easy on the ear and she is blessed with a true and most appealing voice. People interested in Gaelic song may tend to concentrate on Irish and Scottish sources, but if they do, they will miss the many delights and surprises awaiting them in the Isle of Man heritage of songs. Ruth has made a most interesting selection of traditional Manx Gaelic songs and some new compositions, as well.

She starts with Fin as Oshin (Fionn agus Oisín) about which she says, “The words of this song purportedly date back to the late 18th century; it is thought to the ‘oldest ballad in Manx history’.” That’s followed by Colin Jerry’s Manx Gaelic translation of Pádraic Colum’s She Moved Through the Fair. English language translations are supplied with all the Gaelic songs. There are two songs in English: Holdfast, a poem by Ruth’s cousin, Breesha Maddrell, set to music by Stef Conner, the other, the Irish song, The Road to Clady, which she got from the Belfast group Craobh Rua; two contrasting but appealing performances.

Ruth does equally well with the Manx religious song, Oiken ayns Bethlehem that translates, Baby in Bethlehem, and in spite of the unusual phonetic rendering of the Manx language, Scots and Irish Gaelic speakers will immediately recognise the words. She is well served by her fellow musicians, David Pearce (guitar), Venessa McWilliams (double bass), Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (flute & vocals), and Tomas Callister (fiddle & banjo).

Aidan O’Hara