We’ve had an interesting and musical May and, with preparations well underway for the launch of A Louth Lilt, we have also been enjoying and involved in many other musical events. We’ve also been busy working on our ongoing research projects related to the musical heritage of Louth.
We began the month in Monaghan where Brian Dooley unveiled a new stone circle at his homestead before a night of scoraíocht in the tent. With Minister Heather Humphreys amongst the guests in attendance, we enjoyed a great night of music, song and story. Wicklow was our next stop and we enjoyed a trip down to Bray to spend some time with Brian O’Kane. Brian came back to Dundalk the following week to play some tunes at DkIT and we made some rediscoveries of music and achievements from his musical life.
May is the month of performance assessments and examinations and the students all worked hard at the end of the semester. As well as the assessments in DkIT, Adèle opened the showcase of work by students on the BA (Hons) Production of Music and Audio programme that was held at the Spirit Store and the Film Showcase in the cinema that featured work by the students on the BA (Hons) Film and Television Production programme. On a similar note, the Craobh Dhún Dealgan end-of-year branch concert took place in the Wellington Hall while the end of the month brings the opening of the Fís exhibition at Dundalk Institute of Technology.
The Louth Fleadh took place from the 11-14 May. We thoroughly enjoyed the concert by Dave Sheridan, Pádraig McGovern and John McCartin in the museum. Three musicians who have come thrugh the BA (Hons) Applied Music programme also played on the night. Sinéad O’Malley, Ellie Nic Fhionnghaile and Brianna Madden are teachers with the JJ Gardiner branch of Comhaltas in Dundalk and their performance included tunes they learned during their studies at DkIT. Daithí slipped away from the concert early to play a session out in Dunleer – bi-location is still not achieved! We also managed a session with Brendan Gaughran whose beautiful piano accompaniment style is still evident and we benefitted from his opinions on style and musicality.
Over the weekend, the Grúpa Cheoil and Céilí Band Fe 12 from Craobh Dhún Dealgan won their competitions and Daithí’s banjo and mandolin students did well. Daithí also won the newly composed ballads so July will involve a trip to the Leinster Fleadh. Squeezing things in, he also managed a flying visit to the Fleadh in Kerry, the World Fiddle Day in Scartaglen and a turn adjudicating in Meath. While in Kerry he had the opportunity to spend time with Máire Bean Uí Ghríofa who had taught the groups and directed the Scoraíocht’s for Craobh Trá Lí CCÉ during Daithí’s youth. She remembered some of the tunes as he played them, a reminder of the power of music to bring happiness.
The Craobh Dhún Dealgan CCÉ end of term concert took place on the 26th May in Kilkerley and we raced from there to a production of The Faerie Thorn at An Táin Arts Centre in Dundalk. Produced by Big Belly Theatre Company, it was an enjoyable evening that prodded the child-inside.
The LMFM mass was recorded in Louth Village on the 27 May for broadcast the following morning. Adèle prepared the choir of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and they performed again the mass that we composed for them, which can be downloaded here. The broadcast mass is a very meaningful connection for many people who no longer get around as they used to and the choir takes great pride in adding their music to the occasion.
On Sunday evening, we were delighted to be part of Clár Smidiríní with presenter Áine Ní Chaibhre on LMFM. We enjoyed chatting to Áine about our music and sharing our music with her listeners. It had been a busy radio week as the CD was aired on a number of programmes including those presented by Martin Donohoe, Áine Hensey, Peadar Ó Riada and Eddie Caffrey.
The opening of the Fís exhibition at DkIT brought the month to an end. It is an exciting end of year for the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music at the Institute as the Carroll Building becomes an exhibition space filled with creativity. Students were proud to display their productions in a variety of media to an enthusiastic audience.
We continue to gather information through interviews and it was great chatting to Mona Roddy, Carol Leavy Joyce, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Fr Pat Ahern and many others during the month, all the time appreciating their rich contributions to the musical world that we now inhabit. We owe them a great debt. Playing again with Brendan was a joy – Adèle had received some lessons from Brendan in her youth and he had adjudicated Daithí on more than one occasion. It was also wonderful to reminisce with Máire Bean Uí Ghríofa who reacted with joy to the sounds of tunes that triggered memories for her. Brendan came alive playing along to a march that he had once played when winning the Oireachtas competition; Máire sang with pride on hearing ‘Sliabh na mBan’. Music has a power that is beyond understanding.