Our music is as important as the Ardagh Chalice or Book of Kells – Jack Roche
THE music of the Sliabh Luachra area and the style in which it is played are every bit as precious to Irish culture as the Ardagh Chalice and the Book of Kells, according to Jack Roche.
Mr. Roche, a former Cork County Councillor and founder of the Bruach Na Charraige centre in Rockchapel, was speaking during a lecture on the state of the area and its music.
Mr. Roche delivered his lecture to a gathering of about 20 people at the back of Browne's Bar on Monday - the final day of the 2103 Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.
He expressed concerns at the state of traditional music and the impact the competition culture of the fleadh cheoil is now having on it and said musicians are abandoning the regional styles for something that won the year before and adjudicators have no time at all for the polkas and slides associated most with this area.
"I even saw one ajdudicator's remarks where he had written: 'Not suitable for competition' after a slide in one entrant's card," said Mr Roche.
"We have a job of work to do as our songs and dances are going faster than the music. There are songs that were very popular in this area that you don't hear at all now. They were sung at weddings and fairs and you just don't hear them anymore," he added.
"Only for this and a handful of other festivals in the area we'd hardly hear our native music played at all. Dan Connell's in Knocknagree was a terrible loss to the music in the area and God be good to Johnny O'Leary he kept it going there for years. His grandson, Brian O'Leary and a handful of other youngsters are now the hope of the music in that area."
"We have the likes of Nickey McAuliffe and Paddy Jones and Connie Moynihan and Denis O'Connor of course but it's getting frightful scarce after them," said Mr Roche who made special mention of Matt Cranitch who was in the audience.
Mr. Roche cited the old Sliabh Luachra classic collection, 'The Star Above The Garter' as the finest example of the playing of Sliabh Luachra music. He paid tribute to RTE Radio for "Giving us a fair shake by playing the music of our area," and he singled out Peter Browne - who was also in the audience - for the part he plays on radio today and for his role in founding the O'Keeffe festival.
Mr. Roche concluded with a line he used a few times in the course of his talk: "We have a job of work to do."