Tabharfaidh muintir Árann suntas d'íomhá áirithe as an albam a roinnim libh anseo, íomhá nár facthas cheana de shoitheach a sheoladh as Gaillimh go hÁrainn sa tréimhse 1873 go 1891, an galtán rotha Citie of the Tribes. B'é an galtán Pilot roimpi an chéad bhád farrantóireachta go hÁrainn ach bhronn an Citie of the Tribes rialtacht éigin ar an seirbhís sin. I ndáiríre, áfach, is fearr a bhí an galtán Duras, a tháinig i gcomharbacht uirthi in 1891, in ann ag farraigí cháite Locha Lurgain.
Ar bord an tsoithigh seo, tháinig go hÁrainn an tAthair Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh (1863-1899), a bhailigh amhráin in Inis Meáin in 1889. Maireann cóipeanna de na hamhráin siúd i measc lámhscríbhinní Sheáin Mhig Fhlainn (1843-1915) i Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann (Ls.3253) agus freisin i leathannacha an nuachtán lenár oibrigh Mag Fhlainn, an Tuam News, inar fhoilsigh an tAthair Ó Gramhnaigh an t-ábhar béaloidis a d'aimsigh sé sna hoileáin. Seans gurb í gníomhaíocht Uí Ghramhnaigh i leith an bhéaloidis oileánda a spreag an múinteoir scoile Dáithí Ó Ceallacháin (c.1853-1937) chun amhráin agus béaloideas a bhailiú in Árainn. Roinn Ó Ceallacháin an t-ábhar a bhailigh seisean le Ó Gramhnaigh agus freisin le múinteoir eile – arbh bailitheoir amhrán é chomh maith – Domhnall Ó Fotharta (c.1834-1919) a mhair sa Chaladh gar do Chloch na Rón, Co. na Gaillimhe. D'fhoilsigh Ó Fotharta agus Ó Gramhnaigh araon ábhar Uí Cheallacháin. Bhí na fir seo go léir páirteach i ngréasán trasnáisiúnta scoláireachta ina raibh amhráin Ghaeilge á bplé trí chomhfhreagras agus trí fhoilseacháin éagsúla – irisí, nuachtáin, agus cnuasaigh d'ábhar béil – gréasán a bhí gnóthach go maith lena linn siúd ach go háirithe agus a mhaireann inniu le cabhair ón saol luathmhar digiteach. Tá tuiscintí úra ar dhlús na luath-scoláireachta siúd, ar a deachaighdeáin, agus ar a luach ag teacht chun cinn de réir a chéile, de réir mar a spreagann nochtadh na bhfoinsí nua an t-allagar. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.
My friend and colleague Jackie Uí Chionna recently shared with me news of a treasure trove of photographs found in Chetham's Library in Manchester, England. The librarians there have no accession history for this fascinating collection of images from Galway City and its environs and no idea how it came to be in one of the oldest public libraries in the world. They are now crowdsourcing the Galway Album via Flickr in the hope that members of the public can help them to gather information about the images. My colleague Jackie is investigating the background to the album and who might have taken the photographs. I am grateful to her and to Chetham's Library for their generosity in enabling me to share the story with you.
Aran Islanders will be particularly interested in one of the photographs from the album, which I share with you here, an image never seen before of a vessel that used to sail from Galway to Aran in the period 1873 to 1891, the paddle-steamer Citie of the Tribes. Preceded by the steamer Pilot, which was the first ferry to Aran, and succeeded in 1891 by the steamer Duras, this vessel brought a greater degree of regularity to the service. She was, however, susceptible to the frequently inclement weather of Galway Bay and reliability of service really only came with the Duras.
Aboard this vessel, there came to Aran Fr Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh (1863-1899) or Fr Eugene O'Growney, who collected songs in Inis Meáin in 1889. Copies of those songs survive amidst the manuscripts of John Glynn (1843-1915) in the National Library of Ireland (Ls.3253) and also in the pages of a newspaper for which Glynn worked, the Tuam News, in which Fr O'Growney published folkloric material he found in the islands. It may well have been O'Growney's efforts to record island folklore that prompted a local schoolteacher, David O'Callaghan (c.1853-1937), to collect songs and folklore in Aran. O'Callaghan shared the material he collected with O'Growney and with another schoolteacher – who was likewise a song-collector – Domhnall Ó Fotharta (c.1834-1919) who lived at Calla near Roundstone, Co. Galway. Both Ó Fotharta and Ó Gramhnaigh published O'Callaghan's material. Each of these men participated in a transnational network of scholarship on songs in Irish that operated then via correspondence and various publications – journals, newspapers, and folkloric collections – a network that was quite active in their time, and which persists today with the help of digital technologies. Fresh interpretations of the intensity of this early song scholarship, of its high standards, and of its value are emerging gradually as new sources energize the debate. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine – no man is an island.