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Taoiseach launches new collection celebrating Blasket Islands’ culture

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With an Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre) are Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich; Deirdre and Aoife Granville; Róisín Ní Chéilleachair; Áine Uí Laoithe; Eilís Ní Chinnéide; Dr Ríonnach Uí Ógáin; and James Morrissey. Photo by Valerie O’Sullivan.

With an Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre) are Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich; Deirdre and Aoife Granville; Róisín Ní Chéilleachair; Áine Uí Laoithe; Eilís Ní Chinnéide; Dr Ríonnach Uí Ógáin; and James Morrissey. Photo by Valerie O’Sullivan.

With an Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre) are Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich; Deirdre and Aoife Granville; Róisín Ní Chéilleachair; Áine Uí Laoithe; Eilís Ní Chinnéide; Dr Ríonnach Uí Ógáin; and James Morrissey. Photo by Valerie O’Sullivan.

kerryman

As the Taoiseach’s visit to Corca Dhuibhne rolled into last Thursday evening, he and many others were offered more than a glimpse of the cultural value of the nearby Blascaoidí (Blasket Islands).

And it provided proof that this value is not confined to a time when the islands were inhabited but, instead, lives on brightly today.

That’s how Lorcán Ó Cinnéide put it after an event last Thursday which saw Taoiseach Micheál Martin launch Beauty an Oileáin – a new book and CD collection released by Clad-dagh Records – at the Blasket Centre Mr Ó Cinnéide manages in Dún Chaoin.

The collection celebrates the stories, songs, and heritage of the islands. An original release in 1993 featured 17 tracks of music, song, and spoken word from islanders and their descendants, but additional archival material has come to light over the past 30 years, and the newly released material includes 26 tracks and extensive bilingual sleeve notes by UCD National Folklore Collection Director Ríonach Uí Ógáin.

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The launch night featured speeches and some 45 minutes of music, some of which features on the CD material and was performed by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who played the originally recorded music.

“Claddagh Records and ourselves have been working on this, in fact it was mooted a couple of years ago,” Lorcán told The Kerryman, further explaining that the launch coincides with a temporary exhibition at the newly refurbished centre: “We have a temporary exhibition about the music of the islands, putting the islands’ music in the context of the wider tradition of West Kerry and, indeed, the country. That runs here [the Centre] until the fifth of September.

“The fact it was a first visit of a serving Taoiseach to the centre was fantastic and fortuitous, but the wider event had been in planning for some time.”

The Taoiseach commented on how appropriate it was that the Office of Public Works (OPW), the centre, and Claddagh had combined on the project. He also praised the Centre itself and paid generous tribute to the OPW – and its assistant secretary, Rosemary Collier – on the work that took place there in the lead-up to its re-opening in June.

“The musical performances [that took place on the night] show that this isn’t all about the past,” Lorcán added.

“It shows this tradition lives on in these singers and musicians, who are the cream of what they do.

“It was a magical moment to have the Taoiseach and the assistant secretary of the OPW Rosemary Collier here as a validation of what the centre is about, particularly in the context of a new, complete re-imagination of the thing. It is of tremendous encouragement to me and the team at the Ionad entirely.”


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