I Could Read The Sky

Iarla Ó Lionáird, 2000

Music written for and inspired by the film of the same name.

An old man, at the end of his life, remembers. Alone in his bedsit in London his mind wanders, haunted by the past, it's images of loss and isolation - growing up on the west coast of Ireland, the women he has loved, his journey to London and his harsh life as a migrant labourer.

The music written for this story traces this labyrinth of memories - from the nostalgia and beauty of the traditional rural way of life to the brutality and energy of modern urban existance.


  • The CD is the soundtrack music for the film of that title; Iarla also produced the CD and many of the pieces featured are his own compositions and/or his arrangements. It isn't easy to do a complete job of assessment on the film music, not having seen it, but to say that it is atmospheric would only just begin to describe it. A powerful and moving recording which will add considerably to the stature of Ó Lionáird as a musician and a performer. Irish Music (Ireland)
  • "…mandolin and fiddle duets or concertina solos vie earthquaking, industrial racket, grindy guitar growl and distorted spoken-voice sequences…. ...songs such as Knuckles To The Marrow –with rugged Irish rapper Rí-Rá – and The King pithily express both the hero’s loathing of England and his weary pride in wielding an anonymous shovel to build great public works." Q Magazine (UK)
  • The soundtrack to the film of the same name, it is hauntingly beautiful. A tale of growing up in rural Ireland and moving to harsher London as an immigrant worker. The album delights (me) with its highly moving traditional Irish music juxtaposed with driving techno atmospheres. Throughout Iarla’s voice is a delight; beautiful, sweet and clean with tremendous depth and passion" Sacred Hoop Magazine (Ireland)
  • " A beautiful collection of music written for and inspired by film…they fuse different elements of music and literature together into an intense, musical statement of how traditional Irish culture has really adapted into the 21st century…drawing from styles as varied as 100 year old sean nós songs to cutting edge ambient pieces, this truly is the first important Irish album of the millennium." Galway's List (Ireland)
  • Layer upon layer to be peeled away with every listening. One thing’s for sure and certain: I Could Read The Sky is an album to inhabit, not merely to listen to. " I Could Read The Sky is a timely reminder of a matchless book from Timothy O'’Grady. The book has spawned a film, and now a soundtrack, coaxed and cajoled into being by Ó Lionáird, the finest sean nós singer to be found anywhere in these islands today. For starters there’s Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill tiptoeing across a rural landscape on Mother, while their later offering, The Old Road To Garry is an evocative, unsullied reminder of the best of what was left at home…And there'’s more. Layer upon layer to be peeled away with every listening. One thing’s for sure and certain: I Could Read The Sky is an album to inhabit, not merely to listen to." Hot Press (Ireland)
  • " Slow and mesmerising with an ambient, highly synthesised beat, it is also harsh and abrasive, hopeful and aspiring, full of contrasting images of wide rural spaces and brutal city landscapes. Overall the effect is one of a journey – at times uplifting, at others nostalgic. Defying convention, daring to plumb the depths, I Could Read The Sky is atmospheric and profoundly beautiful in a stark, emotionally cathartic kind of way: the kind of music that you should let travel through you rather than try to ‘listen to’. An ambitious project, well-executed from one of Ireland’s leading musical talents." Source Magazine (Ireland)