Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"Mo Ghile Mear" and Seán Ó Riada ** UPDATED x2 ** lyrics in Irish and English, a very cool arrangement by a choral group at University College Dublin -- and a link to a trad Irish slow session in Dublin

So this afternoon I'm looking for lyrics to "Mo Ghile Mear" I can take to tonight's session of the Prairieland Strings, and I surf into an article by Irish sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird that details Seán Ó Riada's role in developing the modern arrangement of the song for his Cór Chúil Aodha (choir of the Chúil Aodha district in County Cork). Turns out it was crucial; in a very substantial way, the song is Ó Riada's legacy to Ireland -- and all the rest of us.

Then -- what a lovely bonus! -- I find a YouTube video of Ó Riada's daughter, Liadh Ní Riada, winning a seat for Ireland's nationalist Sinn Féin party in the European Parliament back in May. Her supporters sing "Mo Ghile Mear" at 2:18 after the deciding votes are announced.

Link here for the lyrics I was looking for, in Irish and English:

From YouTube, footage of: (1) Liadh Ní Riada's victory celebration; and performances by (2) Iarla Ó Lionáird and (3) the Cór Chúil Aodha:

  1. Liadh Ní Riada elected MEP for Ireland South.
    Published on May 27, 2014. Liadh Ní Riada elected MEP for Ireland South. Video footage from the count centre as declaration was announced. Watch out for the great and emotional rendition of Mo Ghile Mear near the end [beginning at 2:18].

    Liadh Ní Riada is Sinn Féin’s National Gaeilge Officer. A good bio on the partry's website at http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/27886. It stands to reason she would be Sinn Féin, given her father's role in reviving Irish traditional music.

  2. Iarla 0'Lionaird and Steve Cooney -Mo Ghile Mear.
    Published on Jul 29, 2012 Iarla O'Lionaird and Steve Cooney at Abbeystrewery church - July 27 2012- a celebration of the life and works of Canon James Goodman.

  3. Mo Ghile Mear - Cór Chúil Aodha agus Peadar Ó Riada
    Uploaded on Mar 24, 2010. Notes in Irish Gaelic. [Peadar Ó Riada is Seán Ó Riada's son and director of the Cór Chúíl Aodha.]

Paraphrasing Ó Lionáird's article, Wikipedia says: "The lyrics and verse of the song more commonly performed today comes from the Cúil Aodha Gaeltacht in County Cork. The air was documented by a man named Dómhnall Ó Buachalla and the words are edited from two of Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill's songs: Bímse Buan ar Buairt Gach Ló and another without a title. Dónal Ó Liatháin gave an account of how it was formed to the sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird."

** Update #1. Video of a performance by the UCD Choral Scholars at University College Dublin -- well, a rehearsal during a recording session, actually, but you wouldn't know it wasn't the final take by listening to it -- that I surfed into. Link here to https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=739685519441564.

A sneaky video of the last track we recorded in Castleknock College for Signum Records this weekend. We can't wait to hear the mix! This was the very last piece performed together by UCD Choral Scholars 2013-2014. What a joyful year it was for us!
** End update.

Ó Riada performs the melody on the harpsichord in the CD Ó Riada's Farewell (click here for a brief audio clip), but it took the form in which we now know it after his death in 1971 as an anthem for Cóir Chúil Aodha. Dónal Ó Liatháin recalled :

"We were gathered in the Ó Riada house [...] and Peadar had this tape and he put it on and on it was a man, if my memory serves me correctly, whose name was Domhnall Ó Buachalla. ... You could recognise from the tape that his was an old voice. [Peadar] told us that this was a tape that his father had collected from the man in question and he played us a song from it. [...] Peadar gave it to me saying that we could make a song from this melody. ...

"I had no plan whatsoever except that I ... would take the most beautiful verses ... the verses that were ... sort of universal as you might say. There really wasn't any difficulty because it was kind of clear that this was the thing you would do... The words and lines were very nice in the verses that we chose, but ... Seán Clarach really was a superb craftsman as regards metre and so forth and you couldn't really find a bad verse where the metre would not be spot on" [quoted in Wikipedia].

In Ó Lionáird's article in the Journal of Music published in Galway, Ó Liatháin is quoted as saying "it became the song that would be sung at the end of the night and people really loved it." Ó Liatháin added:
Well the thing about it was that it was Gaolach [Gaelic in a tribal as opposed to a linguistic sense] and nationalistic and manly and that it consisted of all these things. … the melody itself … had a marching rhythm, there was the sense of … referring back to times of heroism and triumph in Ireland and … I suppose it fitted into the atmosphere at the time since the situation in the North was quite troublesome. And then Ó Riada himself was dead and there was… there was a certain sadness to that period…

Ó Lionáird continues the story:

Prior to its arrival the choir habitually ended a night’s song in public performance with a humorous song – ‘Scoil Bharr d’Inse’. It would soon be usurped by what was now being called ‘Gile Mear’ – a Cúil Aodha song! It was accorded an additional life when its air started to be played at funerals as the coffin made its journey shouldered from the altar to the hearse. It in effect became the Cóir Chúil Aodha anthem. -
See more at: http://journalofmusic.com/focus/o-riadas-vision#sthash.ez1Feook.dpuf.

Earlier posts:

** Update #2. Worth studying: Trad Irish Slow Sessions at New School of Music in center city Dublin:

The New School's Trad Slow Sessions are traditional Irish music sessions in all ways except one: the tempo. We play the session tunes at a slower than normal pace (usually less than half the speed), so that beginning and intermediate players can more easily learn the tunes and join in the session. More experienced players who wish to refine their techniques at a slower pace are also very welcome.

At many Irish traditional sessions the music can be quite loud and fast, which can be intimidating for newer players. Instead, our sessions are ‘softer and slower’ to facilitate the learning process in a friendly and supportive environment. Also, unlike many Irish sessions, those players who need to read the music can use it at the session, although ultimately our goal is to get everyone playing the music in the aural tradition so they can join other sessions. We limit the tunes to those on our tune list, which allows us to repeat the tunes from session to session.

Fascinating tune list!

No comments: