Árainn ón aer
Pic: Rónán Mac Giolla Pháraic
Mar atá i gcín lae Mhic Aonghusa – sceitimíní ar dhaoine ag an cruinniú spleodrach spraíúil agus tuiscint acu go bhfuil eachtra áirithe ag titim amach – tá an tuin chéanna le n-aireachtáil freisin, is dóigh liom, sna cuntais a mhaireann ó Oireachtas 1913, féile a bhí ar bun i gcathair na Gaillimhe i ndeireadh mhí Iúil na bliana úd. Ar na cuntais seo – a ainmníonn ceoltóirí áirithe, ina measc an t-amhránaí Maighréad Ní Annagáin, an píobaire Denis Delaney, agus na veidhleadóirí Mrs. Bridget Kenny agus Treasa Ní Ailpín – tá seod amháin ag tarraingt cainte faoi láthair i measc staraithe na Gaillimhe, laistigh agus lasmuigh den ollscoil: is é sin grianghraf atá céad bliain d’aois i mbliana, a glacadh ag Oireachtas na bliana 1913 agus a foilsíodh sa nuachtán An Claidheamh Soluis. Coinnigí súil ar na meáin mar go roinnfear leis an bpobal an grianghraf stairiúil seo sar i bhfad. Cruthófar freisin deiseanna don bpobal ainm a chur ar na daoine sa phictiúr nár aithníodh go dtí seo. Ní neart go cur le chéile!
* Féach Ríonach uí Ógáin eag. ‘Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis – Dialann Taistil 1942-1946. Indreabhán: Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2007.
Oireachtas na Gaeilge is still drawing talk about how the revelers passed the time, not only at last month’s festival in Killarney, but also in Dublin in 1945 and in Galway in 1913. Don’t worry: I’m not going to divulge any secrets here! I mean simply to release another recording that emerged from the festival and also to tip you off about a fascinating story that is soon to be shared with the people of Galway.
When Máire Ní Dhioráin of Árainn – who featured in last month’s blog and in April’s blog – travelled to Dublin in October 1945 to attend the festival, I understand that it was her first time in the capital. She took the opportunity to get to know the city, visiting Howth and the Houses of the Oireachtas and attending a hurling match – a sight rarely seen in Aran – in Croke Park (uí Ógáin 2009, 514). She also visited various houses, that of Sorcha Ní Ghuairim on Wednesday night, Séamus Ó Duilearga on Thursday night, and Jack Hughes in Dundrum on Sunday. Among the people Máire met, who participated in the competitions and who recorded discs for Séamus Ennis and his colleagues in the Irish Folklore Commission, were Máire Ní Cheocháin of Baile Mhúirne, Tadhg Ó Cuanaigh and Diarmuid Ó Riordáin of Cúil Aodha, Seán Jeaic Mac Donncha, Seosamh Ó hÉanaí and Beartla Ó Conghaile of Carna, and Conal (Condaí) Mhicí Hiúdaí Ó Domhnaill of Rann na Feirste. The source of all this information is Séamus Ennis’ office diary (NFC 1296: 374-9) and it gives us wonderful insight into the spirit and celebratory tone of the occasion. It also helps to contextualize Máire’s performance here; she was so excited that she forgot the words to the song An Páistín Fionn (National Folklore Collection CT0260; Máire Ní Dhioráin (23), Cill Éinne, Árainn, Co Galway. Collector: Séamus Ennis, 24 October 1945). My sincere thanks to the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin for permission to share the recording here.
The tone of Ennis’ recollections – which conjure for us a sense of an exuberant and thrilling gathering bristling with anticipation – is echoed in the surviving accounts of Oireachtas 1913, which took place in Galway at the end of July that year. Amid these accounts – which name some of the participating musicians, including singer Maighréad Ní Annagáin, piper Denis Delaney, and fiddlers Mrs. Bridget Kenny and Treasa Ní Ailpín – there is one prize jewel that has set the hearts of Galway historians ablaze: a photograph taken 100 years ago at Oireachtas 1913 and published in An Claidheamh Soluis. Keep an eye to the media because this historic photograph will soon be shared with the public, who will be given the opportunity to help identify those that remain, as yet, unnamed. Ní neart go cur le chéile!
*See Ríonach uí Ógáin ed. Going to the Well for Water: The Séamus Ennis Field Diary 1942-1946. Cork: Cork University Press, 2009.