An Ceol sa Phobal – Céard é an bealach is fearr chun éiceachóras an cheoil a thacú?

Seo caint a thug mé ag an Scoil Gheimhridh Chumann Merriman, i mBóthar Na Trá, Gaillimh, ar an 28 Eanáir 2023.


Dia dhaoibh a chairde, agus go raibh maith agat a Trevor agus an Cumann Merriman as an gcuireadh a bheith libh inniu.

Ba mhaith liom labhairt faoin ceol inniu, an ceol sa phobal, agus an taithí a bhí againn sa Spidéal i gConamara le roinnt blianta anuas. Agus ba mhaith liom labhairt freisin faoi an tionchar atá ag an gceol ar théamaí na scoile i mbliana – an fhiontraíocht, an oidhreacht, an éiceolaíocht, agus an teanga.

Le cúig bliana is tríocha, táim ag casadh ceoil traidisiúnta ar an bhfidil in Éirinn agus timpeall na cruinne, agus ag scríobh faoin ceol ar feadh fiche bliain, agus an rud atá feicthe agam arís agus arís eile, cibé cén áit ina bhfuil mé, agus cibé cén seanra ceoil a bhfuil muid ag caint faoi, ná go bhfuil ról ilghnéitheach ag an gceol – sa phobal, sa sochaí, sa tír, i do shaol fhéin fiú; agus ní ceapaim go labhraíonn muid faoi an ról ilghnéitheach sách minic, b’fhéidir mar gheall go bhfuil sé deacair labhairt faoi. 

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10 Impossible Ideas for Irish Traditional Music

A lot has been achieved in Irish traditional music over the past several decades, but what happens next? What are the challenges for this music, and how can the traditional music community work together to create an even better future? Below is the edited text of a talk given by Toner Quinn, Editor of The Journal of Music, on 24 November 2022 as part of Na Píobairí Uilleann’s ‘Notes & Narratives’ lecture series.

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Tá Desmond Fennell ar fáil

Seo aiste raidió faoi an scríbhneoir Desmond Fennell, á chraoladh ar RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta mar chuid den sraith ‘Aistí ón Aer’ ar 27 Meitheamh. Éist anseo. (A radio essay in Irish on the writer Desmond Fennell, broadcast as part of the ‘Aistí ón Aer’ series on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. Listen here.)

Bhí mé díreach seiceáilte isteach san óstán i mBéal Feirste nuair a tháinig dhá théacs isteach ar mo fón, ceann ó mo mháthair agus ceann ó mo dheartháir. Bhí mo bhuanchara, an scríbhneoir Desmond Fennell, básaithe. Ní scéal é a tháinig aniar aduaidh orm – bhí aois mhór aige, 92, agus bhí fhios agam go maith go raibh sé ag éirí níos laige. Sheas mé ar feadh scaithimh, agus ansin, thug mé faoi deara an meangadh gáirí a bhí ar mo bhéal.  ‘Ah, a Desmond’ a dúirt mé liom fhéin, ‘bhí fhios agat go maith go raibh mé i mBéal Feirste!’ ‘Nach i bpríomhchathair an Tuaiscirt a rugadh tusa!’

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Raidió na ‘Fuddy-Duddies’?

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta celebrates 50 years this week, but however great its achievements and its positive impact on traditional music and song, Irish-language media cannot stand still, writes Toner Quinn.

I don’t think I would be able to speak Irish were it not for RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, which celebrated 50 years of broadcasting on 2 April. Many people who go to English-language schools are let down by the way Irish is taught and come out with a basic or poor grasp of the language. When I decided to address this gnawing weakness, I used to listen to RnaG while working in my first post-college job – the kitchen of a pizza restaurant in Dublin. At first, I could get lost in the range of dialects and the fluency of the presenters, but slowly I began to find the shows that I could follow, and, with some classes and reading the weekly newspaper Foinse, my understanding grew. When I moved to Conamara, I found I almost had to relearn the language; learned and spoken Irish are two different things. I can recall, however, a breakthrough moment when I was listening to a conversation on RnaG and suddenly realised I wasn’t thinking about the language anymore. My Irish is now good, not fluent, because fluency would mean I could express everything I think and feel through the language, but I am comfortable enough to use it every day. Once you learn Irish, it is like putting on a special headset, whereby everything is now multi-dimensional. You hear and see the language everywhere, you think in terms of both languages, and you are part of a very connected community.

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The Manipulation of Music Goes On

RTÉ recently broadcast a new documentary on the Irish folk revival, titled ‘The Flourishing’. Toner Quinn reviews.

The folk music revival in Ireland, generally associated with the 1950s, 60s and 70s, was an important time. How many of us would be playing this music today were it not for the artists, recordings and ideas of that era? New generations are still seeking a deeper understanding of the work of those artists, whether it is Aoife Ní Bhriain and Liam O’Connor exploring the work of Tommie Potts, Doireann Ní Ghlacáin examining the legacy of her grandfather Seán Ó Riada, or Louise Mulcahy delving into the work of Liam O’Flynn or interrogating the history of uilleann piping with her work into female piping history. Our appreciation of the achievements of the previous generations are only growing with time, and we are in an age where we have many scholars undertaking detailed research into the nuances of this music. Many of the leading artists of that time are also thankfully still with us.

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Where is the Deeper Conversation About Our Decimated Music Scene?

The latest restrictions on live music events leave many unanswered questions, writes Toner Quinn.

Last Friday, a post by the National Campaign for the Arts expressed how many felt:

Anger, frustration, disappointment and exhaustion across our sector as we unravel again. Jobs lost, businesses decimated. We are resilient but we are running on empty.

The Government had just announced that the capacity for concerts and indoor events was to be reduced by fifty per cent, and nightclubs would be closed entirely. By when? As it turned out, in four days time. When the announcement was made, artists and promoters had been putting on full-capacity events for just 43 days. Now their plans, their careers, their well-being, would crumble again.

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What If We Had More Music Hubs?

The new Beatles documentary ‘Get Back’ gives an incredible insight into the band’s creative process, and provides an important lesson for our society today, writes Toner Quinn.

In Peter Jackson’s new three-part Beatles documentary Get Back, we see the magical chemistry that arises when a group of musicians return day after day to the same space.

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Persist to the Other Side

The fiddle-player Martin Hayes has recently published a memoir of his life in music, ‘Shared Notes: A Musical Journey’. Toner Quinn reviews.

The last three years have seen a generational shift in Irish traditional music. We have lost some of the outstanding musicians that have shaped previous decades, from Liam O’Flynn and Tommy Peoples to Tony MacMahon. And we have lost many others. Much of their musical knowledge is gone with them, and those who knew them are thinking about what they learnt from them and what they need to hold on to. They have of course left us their music, and other significant documents, including Peoples’ 2015 tutor/memoir Ó Am go hAm – From Time to Time, O’Flynn’s papers now lodged with the Irish Traditional Music Archive, and MacMahon’s radio and television programmes, interviews and essays, but the fact is that we still have few in-depth biographies and autobiographies of leading traditional musicians from the past sixty years, a period that has been a momentous era for this music. That is a significant blindspot in our book publishing and in our cultural dialogue.

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We Have Celebrated Ó Riada Enough

On 25 September, the National Concert Hall, the Arts Council and RTÉ presented two tribute concerts to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Seán Ó Riada’s death. Toner Quinn reviews.

The day before the two concerts last Saturday that were organised to celebrate the legacy of composer Seán Ó Riada, his son Peadar, also a composer, musician and a broadcaster on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, published a particularly negative perspective on Irish traditional music over the past five decades.

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No One is Talking About What Musicians Get Paid

The new report on the night-time economy has 36 recommendations, but it has an unfortunate blindspot, writes Toner Quinn.

Last week, the government published the Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce, focusing on entertainment and culture between 6pm and 6am in towns and cities. It contains 36 recommendations that the Taskforce believes can transform the night-time economy, energise our urban centres, and make Ireland an extra-special destination for tourists. The proposed actions are broad, from modernising licensing laws to pilot events to developing transport.

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