Television showcase on life of Canon Goodman

THE life of Protestant Minister, gifted uileann piper, native Irish speaker and scholar James Goodman will be the subject of a one-hour programme on TG4 next week.

Almost 120 years since his death, the 2,000 traditional tunes collected by James goodman in West Kerry during the 1850s are still being consulted, read and studied by musicians and scholars today.

Goodman painstakingly transcribed the tunes he collected into four volumes of notebooks. The notebooks, now housed in Trinity College, have become a national treasure and the lost book of lyrics Goodman transcribed to accompany the tunes he gathered has, over the past 150 years, taken on a holy grail quality. The programme tells how that notebook was unearthed from the attic of Goodman's descendants home and was destined for the dump until Goodman's great grandson Gavin plucked it to safety and brought it to Skibereen with him in 2007, where the Goodman family had travelled from England to see a statue of Goodman unveiled.

A piper who was playing at the unveiling recognised it as the notebook which contained the missing words and the family subsequently donated the notebook to Trinity College.

There are some fascinating nuggets in this television programme.

Musician Steve Cooney plays a snatch of a tune collected by Goodman, pointing out that the rhythms are entirely different to anything heard in Irish traditional music today.

Poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill explains how the tale of Goodman's lost notebook of lyrics prompted her, almost half a century after she first heard its story, to enlist the help of a handful of local musicians, singers and composers in writing her own lyrics to accompany some of Goodman's collected tunes.

The programme ' Seamus Goodman – Caomhnóir Ceoi'l will be screened on TG4 at 9.30pm Wednesday, December 17. For further details or photographs contact programme producer Niamh Ní Bhaoill at Sibéal Teo, phone 066 9152555 or 086 8185964 email sibealteo@eircom.net.

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