Bhí George Pickow ar cuairt in Árainn lena bhean, an ceoltóir clúiteach Jean Ritchie as Viper, Kentucky. I 1952, bronnadh comhaltacht Fulbright ar Jean ionas go bhféadfadh sí préamhacha cheol Mheiriceá a fhiosrú ar an taobh seo den Aigéan Atlantach. Agus iad lonnaithe i Londain idir 1952 agus 1953, d’éirigh le Jean agus George cuairteanna a thabhairt ar Éireann agus Albain, agus thaifead siad go leor ceoil. Mo léan, níor thaifead siad in Árainn. Agus mé ar cuairt chucu i Nua Eabhrac i 2001, mhínigh Jean agus George dom gur chuir an easpa aibhléise a bhí in Árainn ag an am cosc ar aon iarracht uathu taifid a chruthú ansin. Mar sin, is luachmhar go deimhin iad na céadta grianghrafanna a ghlac George. Tá roinnt mhaith díobh le feiceáil anois ar shuíomh na leabharlainne: féach Cnuasach Ritchie-Pickow.
Bhí neart amhráin ag Pat Pheaidí, ina measc ‘An Mhíoltóg’ a chum fear eile as Cill Mhuirbhigh, Séamus Ó Caoluighe (c.1793-c.1896), faoi bhád de chuid Shéamuis Uí Fhlaithbhearta: “Thíos i bhPort Mhuirbhigh ‘s ea chuir mé mo bháidín ‘un seoil...”
For this first blogpost, I’ve chosen to share with you an image I found in the James Hardiman Library here at NUI Galway, an image showing a man from Cill Mhuirbhigh, Pat Pheaidí Hernon (1903-1989), singing a song while his neighbour Neain Mhaidhc Mhóir Hernon sits in the fireplace of the ‘Man of Aran’ cottage. The choice of location was deliberate. The thatched cottage had a skylight that enabled early visiting photographers including Frances Flaherty and Haywood Magee to photograph indoor scenes. The New York photographer George Pickow (1922-2010) was then visiting Aran with his wife, the legendary folksinger Jean Ritchie, who had won a Fulbright fellowship to study the roots of American folk music on this side of the Atlantic. In 1952-3, from their base in London, they visited Ireland and Scotland and recorded a lot of music. Unfortunately, they did not record in Aran. When we shared a pot of tea in Long Island back in 2001, Jean and George explained to me that the lack of mainline electricity in Aran persuaded them not to bother with bringing their reel-to-reel tape recorder with them. The hundreds of photos that George took are, therefore, particularly valuable. Many of them can now be viewed on the library website: see the Ritchie-Pickow Collection, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.
Pat Pheaidí had many songs including ‘An Mhíoltóg’ (The Midge) about a boat belonging to Séamus Ó Flaithbhearta. The song was composed by Séamus Ó Caoluighe (c.1793-c.1896) from Cill Mhuirbhigh: “Down in Port Mhuirbhigh is where I launched my little boat...”