Youghal - The Music and Heritage of East Cork
We have developed a close affinity with Youghal that has developed into a significant research activity. Daithí lived in the town of Youghal prior to moving to Co. Louth and was a member of the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. With the performing group Ceolta Sí, he performed in Seisiún in Youghal and travelled to China, Mexico and Wales. He has returned regularly to provide workshops, joined in recent years by Adèle who has been equally inspired by the people and place. We are fortunate to have developed close friendships, benefitted from rich hospitality and been inspired by the beautiful and historic place.
Our research activities in Youghal are best considered through our creative arts practice. A number of years of research and creativity came to fruition in 2019 with the staging of a pageant Oidhreacht Eochaille, also recorded for CD release, featuring compositions and arrangements by Adèle, Daithí and Sinéad Ní Maonbhaoill and featuring the performers of Ceolta Sí and Craobh Eochaille CCÉ. You can read more about the pageant here. Compositions include ‘Lighting Capel Island’ by Adèle, which was also used for a radio documentary Oileán an Caplaígh: The Lighthouse that Never Was. New songs include Daithí’s ‘McGrath’s Clock Gate’, which was inspired by chats with John McGrath and a memorable visit to the Clock Gate when he described his life there and spoke about his family.
Oidhreacht Eochaille was part funded by Cork County Council through the Municipal Districts Creative Communities Scheme and Creative Ireland. We had previously explored the potential of Creative Ireland to support the traditional arts following its launched when we compiled the Abair Trad Report on the Creative Ireland Symposium on Irish traditional music, that we facilitated in the Red Store, Youghal in July 2017. You can read the full report here.
The script for Oidhreacht Eochaille was very much influenced by research Daithí had undertaken for an article for the East Cork Visitor Guide, first published in 2018 and revised in 2019. You can read it here. Research is ongoing and it is fascinating to uncover new items all of the time. Some aspects have received further attention recently with the inclusion of recordings of Séamus Ó Mathúna on the Irish Traditional Music Archive website.
Each September, Youghal Celebrates History welcomes those with an interest in history. Daithí has twice contributed to the event. In 2011 he presented an illustrated talk ‘Singing sentiment: Gaelic song and poetry in east Cork’ for the conference Explosive Substances: Politics and Culture in the 19th Century. He returned in 2013 when he connected with the theme From Fields of Gold: A Celebration of Irish Whiskey with the paper ‘Johnny Jumped Up!: Whiskey in the Irish Song Traditions’. Research for these papers informed Seisiún programmes and the Oidhreacht Eochaille pageant.
We have performed at Brú na Sí on a number of occasions, including a launch of A Louth Lilt and to join with the Seisiún group during some of their summer performances. We were delighted that Lár na Cruinne visited us in Louth in 2017, performing with the Oriel Traditional Orchestra in St. Brigid's Church, Dunleer. The OTO returned to Youghal the following Easter, performing with Craobh Eochaille CCÉ in The Mall Arts Centre. We look forward to returning to Youghal again soon.