The Macalla Suite commemorates the Easter Rising of 1916, while also focusing on significant aspects of Irish history from the Famine era, through the growth of nationalism, the War of Independence and to modern Ireland. The suite was commissioned as a central part of Ireland’s commemoration of the 1916 Rising Centenary.

The Macalla Suite was performed by at Dublin's RDS on Easter Saturday at the State Event for the Relatives of 1916 and toured to the Barbican in London, followed by a sell-out nationwide tour during Easter 2016. The Macalla Orchestra is made up of over sixty of Ireland’s finest traditional and classical musicians & singers

"Is Michael Rooney the O’Riada of our age? From this album we would say he tells a story that is absorbing and has the same orchestral command of narrative. His ability to organise and command a folk orchestra shows he is more than a tunesmith. The Macalla Suite will echo for years to come, the CD is more than a memento of the Rising’s Centenary. More than a memory of two magical nights in Monaghan, it is an important cultural artefact, which we can consult in our own search for identity in the miasma of history."                                                                                                 

- Irish Music Magazine May 2017


Composed by Michael Rooney, Performed by the macalla Orchestra

Movement 1

The Blighted Landscape An Tírdhreach Loite
The suite begins with an expansive, expressive piece reflecting the landscape of Ireland in the 1800s. The music is contemplative and reflective.

The Landlord An Tiarna Talún
This piece is aristocratic in nature and is representative of the English influence in Ireland at the time of the Famine. The music is stately, formal, reflecting the lifestyle of the landed gentry.

Teach na mBocht The Workhouse
This piece is aggressive in nature and is in 4/4 time. The music captures the sense of anguish, tension and unrest permeating through the Irish nation.

The Bold Fenian Men Song & Air
This song, also known as ‘Down by the Glenside’ is a call to arms and tells the story of men who have fought valiantly to free Ireland from English repression. (Orchestration & Interlude air by Michael Rooney)


Movement 2

The Gaelic Revival March Athbheochan na Gaeilge
This march is nationalistic and patriotic in nature. It is reflective of the new wave of nationalism sweeping through Ireland in the late 1800s. Organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League) and the Gaelic Athletic Association were founded with the aim of reviving Irish culture, sport and language.

‘Éireoimid Feasta, Tá an Lá Geal ag Teacht’ Song
The words of this poem were written by Dubhghlas de hÍde for the Oireachtas in 1897 and it looks forward to an era when Ireland will become an Independent State. (Music & Orchestration by Michael Rooney, Words of poem by Dubhghlas de hide)

Scoraíocht  Jig
One of the aims of Conradh na Gaeilge was to promote traditional Irish music and dance, particularly céili dancing. This piece is in 6/8 Jig time.

Spleodar Reel
The final piece of this movement is a reel representing the athleticism and excitement associated with our national sports of Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and handball.


Movement 3

A Clash of Traditions  March/Reel
The music here reflects two genres – the music of the Ulster Volunteers and the music of the Irish Volunteers. The first is a fife and drum march and is reflective of the marching tradition of the Ulster Volunteers. The responding piece is uniquely Irish and reflects the nationalism of the Irish Volunteers. The two pieces are played as countermelodies and this symbolises the mutual distrust and rejection of Home Rule.


Movement 4 – The Rising

Óró ‘Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile  Song/Reel
This is a Jacobite song. Pádraig Pearse added extra verses to the song and it was allegedly sung by the Irish Volunteers during Easter Week 1916. (Reel & Orchestration by Michael Rooney)

Confusion Easordú 
This piece captures the sense of confusion leading up to the Rising. This confusion centred on Casement’s arrest and the decision by Eoin Mac Neill to cancel mobilisation orders for Easter Sunday 1916. The piece has 3 parts – Part A is in 4/4 time; Part B is in 7/8 time; Part C is in 3/4 time. The changing time signatures reflect the confusion.

The Proclamation Forógra Phoblachta na hÉireann
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic. This piece is slow and stately initially and transitions into a patriotic March in 4/4 time – a call to arms.

The Battle An Cath
This is a musical representation of the fight for freedom in Dublin during Easter week.

Execution Basú 
This composition includes a march with a countermelody (reel) –The music portrays the horrific finality of death by execution. The sense of foreboding is introduced by a ‘deathly’ 4/4 drum beat, which evolves into the march of death. A countermelody in the form of a reel is included to add to the tension.

Lament for the Dead Ómós do na Mairbh 

The Foggy Dew Song
The words of this song give an account of the Rising, and refer to the Irishmen who died in battle. (Orchestration by Michael Rooney)


Movement 5

A Backward Glance Súil Siar
This air is contemplative and reflective in nature. As the survivors of the bloody trenches made their way home at war’s end, they returned to a new Irish parliament and another war on the home front. The music casts a backward glance on the road that Ireland has travelled since 1916.


Movement 6

The Queen’s Speech 
On 17th May 2011 at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, Queen Elizabeth stood and bowed. The sacrifice and achievement of those who fought against Britain for Irish independence were honoured. This music endeavours to capture the powerful emotions felt by an Irish nation during this historic visit.

Reconciliation Athmhuintearas
The finale is a lively, joyful piece. The music is a fusion of Traditional Irish music and Classical music, with elements of Rock. It symbolises modern day Ireland 2016 with its many different ethnicities living side by side in peace and harmony.