St James’s COI Church in Athboy will play host to the 1916 Song Project concert on Saturday April 30 where it is being presented as part of Athboy 100. The 1916 Song Project is supported by Meath County Council Arts Office as part of their 1916- 2016 Commemorations Programme.
The 1916 Song Project is a national research and performance project devised and produced by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert for the 1916 Commemoration Programme and features some of the country’s most respected traditional singers and songwriters. The concert will showcase a new body of songs in the traditional style relating to themes, events and figures connected to the Easter Rising.
The singers include Meath’s Rosie Ní Ghallóglaigh, along with singers from Wexford, Dublin, Tipperary and Galway; Paul O’Reilly, Sandra Joyce, John Tunney, Jerry O’Reilly, Fergus Russell, Paddy Berry, Aileen Lambert and Larry Joy.
The singers have been working together since August 2015 to research and compose this new body of songs that commemorate the people and events of 1916. These songs invite us to reflect, challenge us and introduce us to previously unsung heroes. The singers, many of whom are from places where there was significant activity in Easter 1916, will perform in a range of singing styles on a variety of different subjects.
Many of the singers chose to write ballads about local events and local people related to the 1916 Rising. Rosie Ni Ghallóglaigh’s song is no exception, who chose to write about two Meath men, from Nobber – her Grandfather, a Volunteer in 1916, and his brother who fought among many other Irish in WW1; a great song, beautifully sung by Rosie entitled “Two Brothers”.
Thérèse McIntyre will also present a free pre-concert public talk at 6.00pm, in St James’s COI Church, Athboy, entitled ‘Who Fears to Sing of 1916? – A Search for the Songs of the Rising’. The talk examines the dichotomy between the 1798 Rebellion and the 1916 Rising, why one is more ‘singable’ than the other and explores common themes and focuses on local composers from the time of the Easter Rising. Free admission, all welcome.
The 1916 Song Project is kindly supported by Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Meath and Wexford County Councils, Galway City Council, the Arts Council, the Irish Traditional Music Archive and the National Library of Ireland. The concert will begin at 8.00 pm in St James’s COI Church, Athboy, on Saturday, April 30. Tickets (€12/10 concession) are available from Athboy HUB, the Darnley Lodge Hotel or online at https://ticketstop.ie/view.php?id=780 (please note a surcharge applies).
About Rosie Ní Ghallóglaigh
Hailing from Kilberry, Co. Meath, Róisín (Rosie) Ní Ghallóglaigh is a singer and researcher of Irish traditional song. She is currently undertaking a PhD on metaphor, symbol and erotic expression in Irish traditional song at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr. Sandra Joyce. During her undergraduate studies in Irish Music and Dance she specialised in Irish traditional song under the expertise of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Eilís Ní Shúilleabháin. Róisín’s research is informed by her considerable experience as a performing traditional singer and her engagement with archival and field research into Irish and English language repertoires. Since 2011, Róisín has tutored and lectured in traditional song studies, song composition and harmony singing at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
About Rosie’s song
“Prior to last year, I knew very little about the Rising outside Dublin and the Battle of Ashbourne. I had no idea up until then of the Volunteers who seized the bridge and a bakery in Slane, or of the Volunteers who travelled from all over the county to Tara on Easter Sunday 1916, or of the plan for Louth Volunteers to join the Meath Volunteers there and lead them on to Dublin. I grew up hearing stories of my Grandad’s involvement in the struggle for independence. He himself had written poetry while on hunger strike in Mountjoy in 1919. His memoirs and compositions kept by my family and archival material kindly shared with me by Ultan Courtney of Kilmainhamwood, Co. Meath, combined with accounts from Meath and Louth Volunteers provided a wealth of material which inspired this song.
Grandad’s brother James had fought in WW1 and died and was buried in Jerusalem. I realised as I got older that this was the case for many families, torn by the split in Volunteers and on how freedom could be achieved. ‘Two Brothers’ is my contribution to the 1916 Song Project, a Meath song, in tribute to the men and women of Meath and North Leinster who were very much dedicated to the cause of Irish freedom.”
A little taster of the song, here’s the first and last verse:
by Rosie Ní Ghallóglaigh
Two brothers were, both bold and strong, in Nobber they were raised
By the holy well, where the Dee did swell, they spent their early days
In Cregg and in Rathgillen they learned of Gaelic lays
And of brave and gallant heroes that had fought for Irish ways.
Both brothers fought for freedom and both brothers pledged their lives
Fought to liberate our nation, fought to to answer Irelands cries
Fought for what they thought could lead us on to peace and liberty
One on the soil and one away across the foreign seas.
If you would like to hear a preview of her song, here’s a clip from a recent performance.
— FingalCountyCouncil (@Fingalcoco) April 24, 2016