Standing Tall atop Five Pillars – Recognising Creative Ireland in Our Activities
The launch of our album of new compositions on Thursday 8 June in Dundalk was a wonderful occasion that we will treasure, largely because of the presence of so many friends and family. Reflecting on the night illustrates the relevance of the Creative Ireland programme and the five pillars that have been identified.
We were delighted that the evening opened with a performance by the Grúpa Ceoil faoi 12 from Craobh Dhún Dealgan CCÉ. The first pillar of the Creative Ireland programme focuses on enabling the creative potential of every child and young person. Each week Daithí volunteers to facilitate rehearsals with this great group of six to eleven year olds who bring their personalities to the performance of Irish traditional music. They follow in a long tradition of Irish traditional music-making supported by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Dundalk and we were delighted that the chairpersons of both branches of the organisation in the town and the Reachtaire of the regional resource centre were present on the night amongst a very broad musical community.
The second pillar seeks to enable creativity in every community. We are delighted to be involved in our community through our teaching, direction of ensembles, participation in church music and attendance at various arts events in Louth. That the venue for the launch was filled to capacity with familiar faces from our community added to this occasion. In his launch address, Nicholas Carolan, Director Emeritus of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, noted the creativity that abounds in Irish traditional music circles, not least in this part of the country. He noted in particular Josephine Keegan, the only female Irish composer prior to Adèle to have a collection of tunes in the ITMA. Many of the audience are well-known to us and had also experienced performances of the music of Josephine, and more recently Brian O’Kane, that were researched and directed by Daithí in Dundalk. Many were also present in this venue for the inauguration of the Michael Van Dessel Choral Conducting Scholarship and we were delighted that Michael’s son Jan again joined us on the night. Michael Van Dessel’s music has a particular meaning for us as Adèle had conducted some research on his legacy. Jan had provided her with scores that she typeset and some of this music was used for the celebration of our wedding, alongside some of our own compositions. This regular celebration of local creativity by the local community in the community creates a sustainable community for future creativity.
All who came on the night complemented the wonderful venue. We are fortunate in Dundalk to have such high quality infrastructure, which is part of the third pillar of the Creative Ireland programme. We regularly perform and attend events in the MacAnna Theatre, named for playwright and director Tomás Mac Anna, and the Fr McNally Recital Room, named for the former parish priest in Adèle’s former parish of Tallanstown who taught many fine string players. The size of the crowd required four screenings of the documentary, which could be easily accommodated, and which brings us to pillars four and five.
The Creative Ireland programme seeks to promote Ireland as a centre of excellence in media production. This can only be achieved through the development of education and research. We are fortunate to teach with skilled colleagues and work on projects in music and audio production, film and television production, and multimedia. The documentary, The Road to Speyfest, was initially a collaborative effort supported by Irish TV and gave all involved, including ourselves, an insight into television production that we can continue to build upon.
The narrative of The Road to Speyfest focuses on a trip to Scotland by a group of Irish traditional musicians including and under the direction of Adèle and Daithí to perform in Glasgow at the International Conference for Music Education and the Speyfest festival in Fochabers. One of the aims of the project, which was developed prior to the Creative Ireland programme, echoes some of the rhetoric of the fifth pillar – to bring a message overseas that communicates that Ireland is ‘a great place to visit, invest in and to study’. We have been delighted to travel widely in recent years, supported in part by Culture Ireland, IMRO and Erasmus Plus, and this has not only made our audiences more aware of creativity and opportunities in Louth but has also inspired us in our artistic development.
We are naturally excited by the Creative Ireland programme and the opportunities that it surely will bring. We look forward to Louth hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2018 and contributing to that. In the meantime, we are delighted to be facilitating a seminar Abair Trad: Traditional Music in Creative Ireland in Youghal, Co. Cork, on Saturday 24 June as part of the summer activities there. With the launch of A Louth Lilt we are delighted to be musicians, composers, academics and teachers contributing to a Creative Ireland.
Thanks to Lisa Commins for the photographs.