Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Liamhán Mór – Shark of Aran


Roinneann blag na míosa seo dhá íomhá speisialta a bhaineann le scéal an scannáin Man of Aran (1934), ceann de na mórshaothair ealaíne a spreag Árainn. Cé go n-aithnítear an stiúrthóir Robert J. Flaherty (1884-1951) mar athair na scannánaíochta faisnéise, is iomadh míchruinneas atá sa scannán, ina measc, seilg an liamháin mhóir, cleachtas a bhí gaibhte i léig in Árainn faoi 1932-3 nuair a rinneadh Man of Aran. Deirtear nár maraíodh aon liamhán gréine san oileán ó dheireadh an naoú céad déag ach d’fheil a leithéid d’eachtra go mór do phríomhsprioc Uí Fhlaithearta, b’í sin léargas a thabhairt ar an duine ag streachailt leis an nádúr, ag tabhairt dúshlán an fhiántais. Go deimhin, bhí Flaherty i ndiaidh seilg a áireamh cheana i scannán eile dá chuid, Nanook of the North (1922), seilg rosuailt. Mar sin, tugadh faoi aiséirí ar sheilg an liamháin mhóir in Árainn ar mhaithe le dráma Uí Fhlaithearta. D’aithin an comhlacht léirithe Gaumont-British Picture Corporation freisin an brabach a bhainfí as a leithéid de shuntas: mheallfadh radharcanna mórthaibhseacha na seilge siorca daoine isteach sa phictiúrlann mar a mheall Spielberg níos deireanaí lena scannán Jaws (1975).
 
Frances Flaherty a ghlac. Le caoinchead Mhuintir Uí Chonghaile.
Seo thuas grianghraf den tseilg a ghlac Frances Flaherty (1883-1972) agus a bhronn sise agus Robert ar an gCaptaen Meskill a bhí i gceannas ar an Dún Aengus, grianghraf sínithe a roinn an captaen le mo sheanmháthair Máire Gill (1913-1999) a d’oibrigh mar chócaire do na Flaitheartaigh fad is a bhí siad in Árainn. Tugann cuntóir Uí Fhlaithearta, Pat Mullen, le fios gur maraíodh roinnt mhaith liamhán agus gur baineadh ola as na haenna. Mar sin, ní fios cé acu liamhán a seoladh chuig seitheadóir agus a líonadh le stuáil. I Feabhra 1934, aistríodh liamhán mór stuáilte go Londain ar mhaithe le hiarrachtaí bholscaireachta an chomhlachta léirithe; spréach Flaherty nuair a chuala sé gur gearradh píosa as a bholg ionas go bhféadfaí é a chur i bhfuinneog an Gaumont-British Film House ar Shráid Wardour.
3 Feabhra 1934. Le caoinchead Independent Newspapers Ireland.

I ndiaidh chéadthaispeáint an scannáin i Londain ar 25 Aibreán 1934, coinníodh an liamhán i stór seitheadóra Edward Gerrard & Sons i gCamden go dtí gur chinn Gaumont-British an t-iasc a bhronnadh ar an uisceadán is sine ar domhain, Brighton Aquarium. B’í seo an tuairisc a roinn an Irish Times ar 1 Eanáir 1935:
A great fish weighing over two tons, the capture of which was included in the “Man of Aran” film, has been placed among the exhibits at the Brighton Aquarium, where it has proved an attractive addition to the specimens on view. It is to remain permanently at Brighton, and is known as the “Shark of Aran.” During the Christmas holidays many people – particularly those who had seen the film depicting its capture – have visited the aquarium to inspect the fish.
Is mar seo a chuimhníonn duine de phobal Bhrighton, Stevie Hobbs (b.1930), ar an iasc:
I know we often went to the Aquarium and I vaguely remember seeing a huge stuffed fish in the centre aisle but might not have taken much notice of it as I always wanted to see live fish. It was always dark in there and only the tanks were lit as far as I remember.
Mo léan, níl tásc ná tuairisc ar an liamhán anois. Ní heol d’uisceadán an lae inniu, Sea Life Brighton, cad a tharla dó. Tá daoine in Brighton ag fiosrú an scéil, ina measc, an banna ceoil British Sea Power, a d’eisigh albam dar teideal Man of Aran i 2009. Más eol d’aon duine cad a tharla do liamhán mór Árann, ba bhreá liom an scéal a chlos.

The Robert J. Flaherty Papers, Butler Library, Columbia University, New York; Arthur Calder-Marshall, The Innocent Eye: the life of Robert J. Flaherty (London: W.H. Allen, 1963); Pat Mullen, Man of Aran (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1935).

*

This month’s blog shares two images relating to one of the iconic works of the Aran canon, the 1934 film Man of Aran. Although the director Robert J. Flaherty (1884-1951) is widely hailed as the ‘father of documentary’, the film has its fair share of inaccuracies, including the hunting of basking sharks, a practice that had died out well before 1932-3 when Man of Aran was being made. It is said that no basking shark had been hunted in the islands since the nineteenth century but the inclusion of such an enthralling, spectacular scene suited Flaherty’s ultimate purpose, which was to depict the eternal, elemental struggle between man and nature. Indeed, Flaherty had included hunting (for walrus) in his earlier, similarly themed film Nanook of the North (1922), so the practice of hunting for basking shark was readily revived for Flaherty’s Aran drama. The production company Gaumont-British Picture Corporation also recognized the potential appeal of a shark hunt to cinema-goers, as did Spielberg later with his 1975 film Jaws.

Here is a photograph of the shark hunt that was taken by Frances Flaherty (1883-1972), which she and her husband Robert gifted to Captain Meskill, master of the Dún Aengus, a signed photograph that the captain later gave to my grandmother Máire Gill (1913-1999) who worked as cook for the Flaherty family during their sojourn in Aran. Flaherty’s right-hand-man Pat Mullen reveals that they killed many sharks and that oil was extracted from their livers, so we cannot know if it was the pictured shark that was sent to a taxidermist to be stuffed. In February 1934, a stuffed basking shark was conveyed to London where it was employed to advertise the film. Flaherty was ‘wild’ when he heard a piece had been cut from the shark’s middle in order to fit it into the exhibition window of the Gaumont-British Film House on Wardour St.

After the London première on 25 April 1934, the shark was stored by Camden taxidermists Edward Gerrard & Sons. Gaumont-British eventually decided to donate the shark to the world’s oldest aquarium in Brighton. The Irish Times gave the following report on 1 January 1935:
A great fish weighing over two tons, the capture of which was included in the “Man of Aran” film, has been placed among the exhibits at the Brighton Aquarium, where it has proved an attractive addition to the specimens on view. It is to remain permanently at Brighton, and is known as the “Shark of Aran.” During the Christmas holidays many people – particularly those who had seen the film depicting its capture – have visited the aquarium to inspect the fish.
This is how Stevie Hobbs (b.1930) of Brighton remembers it:
I know we often went to the Aquarium and I vaguely remember seeing a huge stuffed fish in the centre aisle but might not have taken much notice of it as I always wanted to see live fish. It was always dark in there and only the tanks were lit as far as I remember.
Unfortunately, the fate of the shark is unknown. Sea Life Brighton have no record of it. People in Brighton are on the lookout, including the band British Sea Power, who coincidentally released an album entitled Man of Aran in 2009. If anyone knows what happened to the Shark of Aran, I would love to hear from you.

The Robert J. Flaherty Papers, Butler Library, Columbia University, New York; Arthur Calder-Marshall, The Innocent Eye: the life of Robert J. Flaherty (London: W.H. Allen, 1963); Pat Mullen, Man of Aran (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1935).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Dá Phianó – A Tale of Two Pianos

Tugaim suntas inniu do chuntas a roinn na scríbhneoirí cáiliúla Edith Oenone Somerville (1858-1949) agus Violet Martin (1862-1915), a ghlac chuici féin an t-ainm cleite Martin Ross. Tháinig an bheirt ar dhá phianó le linn dóibh saoire deich lá a chaitheamh in Árainn i samhradh na bliana 1895. Bhain na huirlisí luachmhara seo le tithe dá raibh gabháltais fairsinge ag dul leo, teaghlaigh a bhí in acmhainn sa naoú céad déag. Ach cé a thug isteach an dá phianó? Cé a sheinn iad? Agus cén ceol a sheinn siad?
Le caoinchead Bhertie & Treasa Joyce, Cill Mhuirbhigh

D’fhan na col seisearacha Somerville agus Ross i dteach i gCill Éinne ar a dtugtaí Killeany Lodge ina raibh ‘horsehair sofa’ agus ‘semi-grand piano’ (21). Sílim go dtáinig an pianó áirithe seo isteach sa teach go luath sa naoú céad déag. Ní dóigh gurb é an smuglálaí iomráiteach as an gCaorán ar an gCeathrú Rua, Máirtín Mór Ó Máille de shliocht Ghráinne Mhaol, a thug isteach é; ná ní dóigh gurb é a nia Máirtín (b.c.1789), a tháinig ina dhiaidh sa teach úd, ba chúis leis ach oiread. Sílim gurb ag a bhean siúd, Mary Anne D’Arcy (1793-1871), a bhí an cumas chun pianó a sheinnt agus gur chuicise a tugadh isteach é. De réir tuairisc Tim Robinson, bhain Mary Anne le clann dá raibh grúdlann cháiliúil acu i mBaile Átha Cliath (41) agus, mar a scríobhann Arthur Loesser go gonta faoi cheoltóirí ban na linne a bhain le haicme áirithe:
Among the genteel ranks, the lord and master of a house understood that the idleness of his wife and daughters was a necessary feature of his prestige as a gentleman…. Simple idleness, however, is a negative thing that had little ostentative glow; it looked more ladylike to do something uselessly pretty than to do nothing… (267)
Dá mba le Mary Anne an pianó, is cosúil gur fhág sí ina diaidh é nuair a d’aistrigh sí go Baile Átha Cliath sna 1850í tamall i ndiaidh bás a fear; ní heol dom, áfach, cad a tharla don bpianó i ndiaidh 1895. Maidir leis an gceol a bhí á sheinm aici, seans go bhfuil leid i measc na n-amhrán a chan neach lena fear, Maria Gorham (c.1842-1935). Roinn sise Eibhlín a Rúin agus An Chúilfhionn – amhráin a bhain go mór le stór pianó an ré úd – leis an Athair Luke Donnellan nuair a bhailigh seisean amhráin in Árainn.

Tháinig Somerville agus Ross ar an dara pianó i gCill Mhuirbhigh lá dá raibh siad ag teacht anuas as Dún Aonghusa:
Near Kilmurvey the Resident Magistrate’s house shows a trim roof among young larch and spruce, a miracle of modernity and right angles after the strewn monstrosities of the ridge above; passing near it, a piano gave forth a Nocturne of Chopin’s to the solitude, a patrician lament, a skilled passion, in a land where ear and voice have preserved the single threads of melody, and harmony is as yet unwoven (29-30).
Murab cuairteoir a bhí á sheinnt, sílim gurb í bean an tí, Lily O’Flaherty Johnston (c.1857-1944), a bhí ag seinm ceol Chopin. Murab í Lily a thug isteach an pianó, b’fhéidir gurb í a máthair Julia Irwin, a tógadh i Ros Comáin, a thug isteach é am éigin i ndiaidh 1878. Ba cara agus iontaobhaí le muintir Irwin an t-aturnae, leabharlannaí, bailitheoir ceoil, agus staraí mór na Gaillimhe James Hardiman (1782-1855), agus phós mac leisean deirfiúr Lily, Julia (384). Síltear gurb é an pianó céanna é atá i dteach Chill Mhuirbhigh ó shin – uirlis éanadáin ar a bhfuil cosa stíl Londain, is cosúil, a díoladh i mBaile Átha Cliath.

Edith Somerville & Martin Ross [Violet Martin], Some Irish Yesterdays (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906); Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Labyrinth (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1995); Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954 (1990)); Luke Donnellan, ‘Eibhlin a Rúin’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 2.4 (November 1911), pp.416-417; Luke Donnellan, ‘The Coulin’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 3.1 (December 1912), pp.12-13.

*

In the summer of 1895, the writers Edith Oenone Somerville (1858-1949) and Violet Martin (1862-1915) – who used the pen-name Martin Ross – spent ten days holidaying in Árainn. There, they came across two pianos in local houses with substantial holdings of land, households that could afford pianos. So who brought the pianos to Aran? Who played them? And what music did they play?

Somerville and Ross stayed in Killeany Lodge, which had a ‘horsehair sofa’ as well as a ‘semi-grand piano’ (21). I reckon this piano arrived in Aran in the early nineteenth century when the house was occupied by the O’Malleys. The well-known smuggler and descendent of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley, Máirtín Mór O’Malley from An Caorán in An Cheathrú Rua, is unlikely to have brought the piano in, as is his nephew Máirtín (b.c.1789) who succeeded him there. Máirtín’s wife, on the other hand, is the most likely occupant to have had the ability to play the piano and to have brought the semi-grand to Cill Éinne. According to Tim Robinson, Mary Anne D’Arcy (1793-1871) belonged to a Dublin brewing family (41) and, as Arthur Loesser piquantly observes about contemporary female musicians of a particular class:
Among the genteel ranks, the lord and master of a house understood that the idleness of his wife and daughters was a necessary feature of his prestige as a gentleman…. Simple idleness, however, is a negative thing that had little ostentative glow; it looked more ladylike to do something uselessly pretty than to do nothing… (267)
If Mary Anne owned the piano, she left it behind her when she moved to Dublin in the 1850s a while after her husband’s death; its fate after 1895 is, as yet, unknown. As for the music she played on it, perhaps there is a clue in the repertoire of her husband’s niece, Maria Gorham (c.1842-1935). She shared Eibhlín a Rúin and An Chúilfhionn – traditional songs that were appropriated by the nineteenth-century parlour piano tradition – with Fr Luke Donnellan when he collected songs in Aran.

Somerville and Ross found the second piano in Cill Mhuirbhigh upon their descent from Dún Aonghusa:
Near Kilmurvey the Resident Magistrate’s house shows a trim roof among young larch and spruce, a miracle of modernity and right angles after the strewn monstrosities of the ridge above; passing near it, a piano gave forth a Nocturne of Chopin’s to the solitude, a patrician lament, a skilled passion, in a land where ear and voice have preserved the single threads of melody, and harmony is as yet unwoven (29-30).
I reckon the Chopin nocturne – a staple of nineteenth-century European parlour piano music – was being played, if not by a visitor, then by the woman of the house, Lily O’Flaherty Johnston (c.1857-1944). If Lily didn’t bring the piano into Aran sometime after 1878, perhaps it was her mother, Julia Irwin from Roscommon. The famous Galway historian, solicitor, librarian, and music collector James Hardiman (1782-1855) was a friend and trustee of the Irwins and his son married Lily’s sister, Julia (384). The piano that is now in Kilmurvey House – apparently a cottage/birdcage piano with London-style legs, which was sold in Dublin – could well be the same instrument.

Edith Somerville & Martin Ross [Violet Martin], Some Irish Yesterdays (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906); Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Labyrinth (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1995); Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954 (1990)); Luke Donnellan, ‘Eibhlin a Rúin’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 2.4 (November 1911), pp.416-417; Luke Donnellan, ‘The Coulin’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 3.1 (December 1912), pp.12-13.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Máire Ní Dhioráin 1945 & Oireachtas 1913

Is cosúil nach bhfuil deireadh ráite faoin Oireachtas go fóill. Is iomadh scéilín ó bhéilín atá cloiste agam ó shin mar gheall ar an bhféile, ní amháin faoi Chill Áirne roinnt seachtainí ó shin, ach freisin faoi Bhaile Átha Cliath i 1945 agus faoi Ghaillimh i 1913, agus faoin gcaoi gur chaith na rannpháirtithe a gcuid ama le linn na féile. Ná bíodh faitíos oraibh: ní sceithfear aon rún anseo! Níl uaim ach taifead eile a d’eascair as an bhféile a roinnt libh, chomh maith le fógra beag faoi scéal rí-spéisiúil a roinnfear le pobal na Gaillimhe go rí-ghairid.


Árainn ón aer
Pic: Rónán Mac Giolla Pháraic
Nuair a thaistil Máire Ní Dhioráin as Árainn – ise atá luaite i mblag na míosa seo caite agus i mblag an Aibreáin – go Baile Átha Cliath i nDeireadh Fómhair 1945 chun freastal ar an bhféile, glacaim leis gurbh í sin an chéad uair aici san ardchathair. Thapaigh sí an deis aithne a chur ar an áit agus thug cuairt ar Bhinn Éadair agus ar Thithe an Oireachtais agus d’fhreastal ar chluiche iománaíochta – rud nach bhfeicfí go ró-mhinic in Árainn – i bPáirc an Chrócaigh (uí Ógáin 2007, 423). Freisin, bhí sí ar cuairt i dtithe éagsúla: oíche Chéadaoin Tí Shorcha Ní Ghuairim, oíche Dhéardaoin Tí Shéamuis Uí Dhuilearga, agus oíche Dhomhnaigh Tí Jack Hughes i nDún Droma. I measc na ndaoine a casadh ar Mháire, a ghlac páirt sna comórtais, agus a thaifead dioscaí do Shéamus Mac Aonghusa agus a chomhghleacaithe i gCoimisiún Béaloideasa Éireann, bhí Máire Ní Cheocháin as Baile Mhúirne, Tadhg Ó Cuanaigh agus Diarmuid Ó Riordáin as Cúil Aodha, Seán Jeaic Mac Donncha, Seosamh Ó hÉanaí agus Beartla Ó Conghaile as Carna, agus Conal (Condaí) Mhicí Hiúdaí Ó Domhnaill as Rann na Feirste. Is iad cín lae oifige Shéamuis Mhic Aonghusa (CBÉ 1296: 374-9) a roinneann an t-eolas seo ar fad linn agus tugann sé léargas iontach dúinn ar an gceiliúradh a rinneadh agus ar spiorad agus ar thuin na hócáide. Is léir ón taifead seo thíos go raibh Máire ar bís: nuair a thug sí faoin amhrán An Páistín Fionn a thaifead, sheol na sceitimíní a stuaim chun seachráin (Cnuasach Béaloideasa Éireann CT0260; Máire Ní Dhioráin (23), Cill Éinne, Árainn, Co. na Gaillimhe. Bailitheoir: Séamus Mac Aonghusa, 24 Deireadh Fómhair 1945).

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.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Máire Ní Dhioráin @ Oireachtas na Gaeilge 1945

Agus Oireachtas na Gaeilge faoi lán a’ tseoil i gCill Áirne an tseachtain seo, meabhraítear dom amhránaithe Árann a thug aghaidh ar an bhféile agus ar na comórtais ó 1897 anuas. Díobhsan, is í Treasa Ní Mhiolláin as Sruthán, Árainn, a rinne an gaisce is mó, ag crochadh léi Corn Uí Riada faoi dhó i 1972 agus i 1979. Díríonn an blagphosta seo ar bhean eile as Árainn, a thug aghaidh ar Oireachtas na bliana 1945, agus roinneann taifead di. Tá mé den tuairim gurb í an chéad oileánach a ghlac páirt sna comórtais ardáin.
Céibh Chill Éinne, Árainn

Rugadh Máire Ní Dhioráin i gCill Éinne ar 15 Aibreán 1922, duine de bheirt iníon a saolaíodh do Mhaidhcilín ‘Wallace’ Ó Dioráin (d.1975) agus do Mháirín Ní Bhriain (1896-1967). B’amhránaí agus boscadóir í Máirín agus b’amhránaithe agus filí a deartháireacha Pádraigín, Antaine, agus Teaimín. Mhínigh mé mí Aibreán seo caite gur éirigh le Máire amhrán a bhí cumtha ag Teaimín, Amhrán na Feola (CBÉ S1A: 103-106), a bhreacadh uaidh ar son Bhailiúchán na Scol 1937-9. Chuidigh an taithí seo léi i 1945 nuair a tháinig Séamus Mac Aonghusa chomh fada léi-se agus lena muintir i samhradh na bliana úd ag bailiú amhrán. Faoi Mháire, scríobh Mac Aonghusa:
Duairt sí órán ar báll dúinn – “B’ait liom bean a d’imreóchadh beart” (“Peigí Mistéal”) agus fonn an-áluinn aice leis, agus go deivin níor thada a áilneacht le h-ais an ghlóir cinn atá aig Máire fhéin. ‘Sí is breaghtha chuala mé go dtí seo bhfuil glór aice (CBÉ 1297: 27).
Déarfainn gurb é Mac Aonghusa a spreag Máire chun aghaidh a thabhairt ar an Oireachtas i mBaile Átha Cliath, agus freisin – is dóigh liom – ar na comórtais ardáin a bhí ar bun ar feadh seachtaine in Amharclann na Mainistreach ón 20 Deireadh Fómhair ar aghaidh. Mo léan, ní mhaireann fianaise a chruthódh go raibh Máire san iomaíocht. Ní ainmnítear ach seisear den deichniúr ban a chan. Is í Máire Ní Cheocháin as Cúil Aodha a thug léi an bua agus b’í Treasa Ní Mhaoilchiaráin as Ruisín na Maithniach a thug léi an dara duais. B’iad Sorcha Ní Ghuairim agus Dinny Pháidí Duncaí Ó Baoighill na moltóirí.
Ba nós le Mac Aonghusa agus lena chomhghleacaithe i gCoimisiún Béaloideasa Éireann iomaitheoirí an Oireachtais a thabhairt isteach chun na hoifige ar mhaithe le hamhráin a thaifead uathu. Ar phlátaí aicéatáite, thóg Mac Aonghusa ceithre amhrán ó Mháire: Is Tusa Mo Rún (is é sin An Páistín Fionn), Siúil a Rúin, Peigí Mistéal, agus Cúirt Bhaile Nua (CBÉ CT0260). Seo chugaibh véarsa uaithi (Cnuasach Béaloideas Éireann CT0260; Máire Ní Dhioráin (23), Cill Éinne, Árainn, Co. na Gaillimhe. Bailitheoir: Séamus Mac Aonghusa, 24 Deireadh Fómhair 1945).


I 1950, léirigh Mac Aonghusa an athuair a mheas ar amhránaíocht Mháire nuair a thug sé deis don bailitheoir cáiliúil ceoil Alan Lomax cóip dá thaifead féin a chruthú. Tá fáil anois ar an dubáil sin ar shuíomh an Association for Cultural Equity. Ní fios go fóill má mhaireann aon taifead eile d’amhránaíocht Mháire. I 1946, chuaigh sí ar imirce go Sasana, áit dá raibh sí ag obair ar feadh seal ag dochtúir i Learpholl. Phós sí Lesley Arnsby, agus d’éag ar 30 Samhain 2007.
*Féach Ríonach uí Ógáin eag. ‘Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis – Dialann Taistil 1942-1946. Indreabhán: Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2007.
*
As the national Irish-language festival Oireachtas na Gaeilge takes place this week in Killarney, Co. Kerry, I am reminded of the singers of Aran who have attended the festival and competed in its events since 1897. Of those, Treasa Ní Mhiolláin of Sruthán, Árainn, is the best-known singer for winning Corn Uí Riada twice in 1972 and 1979. This blogpost introduces another woman from Árainn, who attended Oireachtas na Gaeilge in 1945, and shares a recording of her singing. I believe she was the first islander to compete in the stage competitions.
Máire Ní Dhioráin was born in Cill Éinne on 15 April 1922, one of two daughters born to Maidhcilín ‘Wallace’ Ó Dioráin (d.1975) and Máirín Ní Bhriain (1896-1967). Máirín was a singer and accordion-player and her brothers Pádraigín, Antaine, and Teaimín were singers and poets. I mentioned in April’s blog how Máire transcribed from Teaimín one of his compositions, Amhrán na Feola (NFC S1A: 103-106), for the School’s Scheme of 1937-9. This experience stood to her in the summer of 1945 when Séamus Ennis came to collect songs from her and her family. Of Máire, Ennis wrote (my translation):
She later said a song for us – “Strange to me a woman who would play a move [trick]” (“Peggy Mitchell”) and she had a very beautiful air to it, and indeed her beauty was nothing to the singing voice Máire herself has. She has the finest voice I have heard yet.
I surmise that Ennis suggested Máire attend Oireachtas na Gaeilge in Dublin and that she compete in the stage competitions that ran all week in the Abbey Theatre from 20 October onwards. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to prove that she did, in fact, compete. Only six of the ten competitors in the women’s competition are named. Máire Ní Cheocháin of Cúil Aodha won first prize and Treasa Ní Mhaoilchiaráin of Ruisín na Maithniach won second prize. Sorcha Ní Ghuairim and Dinny Pháidí Duncaí Ó Baoighill adjudicated.
Ennis and his colleagues at the Irish Folklore Commission regularly brought Oireachtas competitors to their office in order to record them. On acetate discs, Ennis captured parts of four songs from Máire: Is Tusa Mo Rún (that is, An Páistín Fionn), Siúil a Rúin, Peigí Mistéal, and Cúirt Bhaile Nua (NFC CT0260). Presented above is one verse from her (National Folklore Collection CT0260; Máire Ní Dhioráin (23), Cill Éinne, Árainn, Co Galway. Collector: Séamus Ennis, 24 October 1945.).
In 1950, Ennis expressed his admiration for Máire’s singing once again when he enabled the famous music collector Alan Lomax to copy his recording of her. That dubbed recording is now available on the Association for Cultural Equity website. It is not yet known whether there are any other surviving recordings of Máire’s singing. In 1946, she emigrated to England, where she worked for a time for a doctor in Liverpool. She married in Lesley Arnsby and died on 30 November 2007.
*See Ríonach uí Ógáin ed. Going to the Well for Water: The Séamus Ennis Field Diary 1942-1946. Cork: Cork University Press, 2009.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Maidhc Wallace (c.1886-1916) @ La Somme

An rud nach bhfuil greanta i gcloch, tá sé greanta i gcuimhne na ndaoine, arbh cleachtas í ó cheart, agus ceird ag daoine áirithe. Scríobh mé cheana anseo faoi fhidléar, George Brabson, a mhair san 18ú aois déag i gCill Éinne. Baineann blag na míosa seo le fidléar as Cill Mhuirbhigh a mhair os cionn céad bliain ó shin. B’é sin Maidhc Wallace a rugadh c.1886. Bhí teach a mhuintire ar an láthair chéanna is atá Tí Uí Chonghaile anois, teach mo sheanmhuintirse. Inniu, i mbinn theas an tí úd, tá crois álainn chloiche a ghearr Maidhc. Go deimhin, tá lorg a lámh mar shaor cloiche ar fud an bhaile. Is é a ghearr an tobar in éadan na haille ag Gleainnín an Tairbh agus freisin an bád sa leac os cionn Tobar an Dúin chomh maith lena ainm agus a ghairm: “M. WALLACE, FISHCURER.” Bhí cáil ar Mhaidhc as a neart agus as a chumas ag caitheamh meáchain agus ag imirt liathróid láimhe. Shiúladh sé féin agus Johnny Mhicil Sheáin Eoghain Ó Conghaile soir chuig pinniúr Chill Éinne le dhul san iomaíocht agus deirtear gur bhuaigh siad Craobh Chonnachta. Cloisim freisin go seinneadh sé an t-amhrán Coinleach Glas an Fhómhair.

Tobar Ghleainnín an Tairbh, Cill Mhuirbhigh
An tríú cuid idir an dá bhuicéid
I 1916, tháinig oifigeach earcaíochta airm go hÁrainn. Caitheadh oíche chinniúnach Tí Johnston – áit dá raibh baraille portair á roinnt, deirtear – agus, lá arna mhárach, bhí Maidhc agus ceathrar eile as Fearann a’ Choirce, Gort na gCapall, Cill Mhuirbhigh agus Creig a’ Chéirín liostáilte. Sular fhág sé an t-oileán, chroch Maidhc bogha na fidle ar tháirne os cionn na tine agus dúirt lena mháthair nár cheart d’aon duine eile lámh a leagan air.

Ní mhaireann fianaise dá sheal san airm i Reisimint Laighin, ach tá mé den bharúil gur ghlac sé páirt i gCath Guillemont, ceann de Chathanna an Somme. Ar an 4 Meán Fómhair, gortaíodh Maidhc sa bholg nuair a bhuail píosa de shliogán faoi. Cé is móite d’iarrachtaí na ndochtúirí ag an No.21 Casualty Clearing Station ag La Neuville, bhásaigh Maidhc go moch ar maidin ar an 5 Meán Fómhair 1916. Chuir an tAth. J. Crotty an ola dheireanach air agus ansin scríobh seisean litir chuig máthair Mhaidhc ag inseacht di faoina bhás. Ach bhí a fhios aicise cheana féin, deirtear, go rud éigin cearr: an mhaidin sin, thit an bogha den táirne os cionn na tine.

Is iad Pádraig Gillan, Mícheál Tom Burke Ó Conghaile, agus Seán Ó Conghaoile (nach maireann) a roinn liom formhór an eolais thuas. Tá mé buíoch dóibhsean agus don Dr. Marion Broderick a roinn liom an grianghraf a ghlac sí le gairid ag uaigh Mhaidhc i Reilig La Neuville in aice le Corbie i dTuaisceart na Fraince. Chuir sí féin agus a fear Máirtín Mac Giolla Pháraic bláthfhleasc ar a uaigh chomh maith le cloch dhuirlinge ar a raibh ‘Árainn’ scríofa agus bratach na hÉireann péinteáilte agus, ar deireadh, cuimilteán dá ainm a thóg a mac Rónán ón leac i gCill Mhuirbhigh. Is é Pádraig Gillan, a bhfuil gaol aige le Maidhc, a thug aire na huibhe don litir a seoladh go hÁrainn ón Somme.

*

That which is not memorialized in stone lives on in community memory, which is, by rights, a practice and, for some people, a craft. I wrote before about the fiddler George Brabson who lived in the 18th century in Cill Éinne. This month’s blog concerns a fiddler from Cill Mhuirbhigh who lived over a hundred years ago. Mike Wallace was born c.1886 and his family home stood on the site now occupied by my grandparents’ home, Tí Uí Chonghaile. Today, the gable of that house contains a beautiful stone cross that Mike carved. Indeed, his stonework can be seen throughout the townland. It was he who carved from the face of the cliff the three-part well at Gleainnín an Tairbh [The Little Valley of the Bull] and also the unfinished boat in the flagstone above Tobar an Dúin [The Well of the Fort] along with his name and occupation: “M. WALLACE, FISHCURER.” Mike was known for his strength and ability at throwing a shotput and also at handball. He and Johnny Mhicil Sheáin Eoghain Ó Conghaile used to walk to the alley in Cill Éinne to compete and it is said that they won a Connacht title. Mike was also known for performing the song Coinleach Glas an Fhómhair.

In 1916, a British Army recruiting officer came to Árainn. A fateful night was spent in Tí Johnston – with a barrel of porter, apparently – and, the following morning, Mike and four others from Fearann a’ Choirce, Gort na gCapall, Cill Mhuirbhigh and Creig a’ Chéirín found they had been enlisted. Before he left the island, Mike hung his fiddle bow on a nail above the fireplace and told his mother no one else should touch it.

Mike’s military record from his time in the Leinster Regiment does not survive, but I reckon that he participated in the Battle of Guillemont, one of the Battles of the Somme. On 4 September, Mike was wounded in the abdomen when he was struck by a shell. Despite the efforts of the doctors at the No.21 Casualty Clearing Station at La Neuville, Mike passed away on the morning of 5 September 1916. Fr. J. Crotty performed the last rites and then wrote a letter to Mike’s mother telling her of his passing. But she already knew, it is said: that same morning, Mike’s bow fell from the nail above the fireplace.


Most of this information was contributed by Pádraig Gillan, Mícheál Tom Burke Ó Conghaile, and the late Seán Ó Conghaoile. I am grateful to them and to Dr. Marion Broderick who shared with me the photograph she took at Mike’s grave in the British Army war graves cemetery at La Neuville near Corbie in Northern France. She and her husband Máirtín Mac Giolla Pháraic placed a poppy wreath on the grave, along with a stone with the word ‘Árainn’ and an Irish flag painted on it and also a rubbing of Mike’s carving of his own name in the flagstone in Cill Mhuirbhigh, produced by their son Rónán. It was Mike’s relative, Pádraig Gillan, who for so long cared for the letter that was sent to Aran from the Somme.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Citie of the Tribes 1873-1891

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. Le gairid, roinn mo chara agus mo chomhghleacaí Jackie Uí Chionna liom scéal faoi thaisce luachmhar grianghrafanna a frítheadh i Leabharlann Chetham i Manchain Shasana. Ní heol do na leabharlannaithe ansiúd cad as a dtáinig albam rí-spéisiúil de ghrianghrafanna a glacadh i gCathair na dTreabh agus sa cheantar máguaird ná cad a thug go Manchain é chuig ceann de na leabharlainn phoiblí is sine ar domhain. Tá iarracht ar shluafhoinsiú idir lámha acu anois agus Albam na Gaillimhe á roinnt acu via Flickr le súil is go mbeidh an pobal i gcoitinne in ann cuidiú leo eolas faoi na híomhánna a chruinniú. Tá mo chomhghleacaí Jackie ag fiosrú cúlra na ngrianghrafanna agus cé go díreach a chruthaigh iad. Tá mé buíoch dise agus do Leabharlann Chetham a cheadaigh dom an scéal a roinnt libhse.


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.