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Programme 09
clar 09
Altan :: Maire McDonnell Garvey ::
Colm Breathnach :: Nollaig McKeon ::
Louis de Paor :: Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin ::
Dr. Liz Doherty :: Gearóid Ó Crualaoich ::
Theo Dorgan :: Sean O’Laoire ::
Brian Farrell :: Rónán Ó Snodaigh ::
Cathal Goan :: Dominic Stevens ::
Len Graham :: John Tiernan ::
Tony MacMahon ::  
:: Altan

No Irish traditional band in the last dozen years has had a wider impact on audiences and music lovers throughout the world than Altan. With their exquisitely produced award-winning recordings, ranging dynamically from the most sensitive and touching old Irish songs all the way to hard hitting reels and jigs, and with their heartwarming, dynamic live performances, Altan have moved audiences from Donegal to Tokyo to Seattle. Throughout, there has been the unwavering commitment of the band to bringing the beauty of traditional music to contemporary audiences. In fact, Altan have always believed that Irish traditional music is a modern music in every sense and its growing influence and popularity have proved them right.

Just recently released “Local Ground” is Altan's 10th studio album in the 20 years since they first came together as a band. It is appropriate that the words "Local" and "Ground" are conjoined in the album title. Altan have always celebrated and valued the local in their music. Traditional music can be said to be of and from a place. This focus on the celebration of place is important to Altan. The band has always been proud of their geographical and musical roots.

"So it is in recognition of the importance and value of what is close to us and where we are from that we decided the name of Bernadette Kiely's beautiful painting, Local Ground, spoke to us on more than one level and would make a suitable title for our tenth album as a band." - Altan fiddle player and singer Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
:: Colm Breathnach

Born in Cork. Having worked as a terminologist with the Terminology Committee in the Department of Education he now works as a translator with Rannóg an Aistriúcháin in the Oireachtas. Three of his collections have won the principal poetry prize in Conradh na Gaeilge’s annual literary competitions.

In 1999 the Irish American Cultural Institute presented Colm with the Butler prize in recognition of his work. He has published five collections of poetry, Cantaic an Bhalbháin, An Fearann Breac, Scáthach, Croí agus Carraig and An Fear Marbh. He translated the novel Katz und Maus by Günther Grass in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Nic Thaidhg and he translated Günther Grass’ Nobel lecture into Irish for the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association under the title Leanfar de (To be continued). Poems of his are regularly anthologised.

He has had poems translated into Scottish Gaelic, English, German and Italian and the collection An Fear Marbh has appeared in a Rumanian edition. He is included in the Encyclopaedia of Ireland.

:: Louis de Paor

Born in Cork in 1961, Louis de Paor has been involved with the contemporary renaissance of poetry in Irish since 1980 when he was first published in the poetry journal Innti which he subsequently edited for a time. A four times winner of the Seán Ó Ríordáin/Oireachtas Award, the premier award for a new collection of poems in Irish, he lived in Australia from 1987 to 1996. His first bilingual collection, Aimsir Bhreicneach/Freckled Weather was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for Literary Translation. He was also granted a Writer’s Fellowship by the Australia Council in 1995. He is the recipient of the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award 2000, the first poet in Irish to achieve that distinction. His most recent collection agus rud eile de, published by Coiscéim in December 2002, was awarded the Oireachtas prize for the best collection of poems in Irish in 2003. A bilingual collection Ag greadadh bas sa reilig/Clapping in the cemetery will be published by Cló Iar-Chonnachta in Autumn 2005.

:: Dr. Liz Doherty

Liz Doherty is a musician, teacher, researcher and consultant from Buncrana, Co. Donegal. She graduated from N.U.I., Cork with a BMus degree in 1991 and was awarded a PhD from the University of Limerick in 1996 for her research and dissertation on the fiddle music tradition of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was a lecturer in the Music Department, N.U.I., Cork from 1994-2001 and, since 2003, has been lecturing in the School of Media and Performing Arts and the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster.

Since 2001 Liz has worked as a consultant on many arts and education projects throughout Ireland and Europe and has been instrumental in establishing the successful Roscommon Traditional Arts Forum. She has recently been appointed Traditional Arts Specialist with the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

As a fiddle player Liz has performed worldwide as a solo artist and with a number of bands and shows and has also a number of commercial recordings to her credit, the most recent of these released on her own record label, Busy Lizzy Records. Liz is in great demand as a teacher of traditional music and has been involved in many youth traditional music projects both in Ireland and abroad.

:: Theo Dorgan

Theo Dorgan is a poet, broadcaster, translator, editor and documentary scriptwriter. His poetry collections include The Ordinary House of Love, Rosa Mundi and Sappho’s Daughter. He is the editor of Irish Poetry Since Kavanagh, and co-edited Revising the Rising, The Great Book of Ireland, the anthologyWatching The River Flow and An Leabhar Mór, the Great Book of Gaelic.

His work has been translated into and published in many languages, including a selected poems in Italian, La Casa ai Margini del Mundo, and a Spanish-language edition of Sappho’s Daughter, La Hija de Safo. His Jason and The Argonauts, to music by Howard Goodall, was commissioned by and premiered in the Royal Albert Hall in 2004. Sailing for Home, his prose memoir of an Atlantic crossing under sail, was published in late 2004, and his Songs of Earth and Air, translations of the Slovenian poet Barbara Korun, has just been published as part of the European Capital of Culture 2005 Literature programme.

A member of Aosdána, he was appointed to The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 2003. Born in Cork in 1953, he lives in Dublin.

Brian Farrell ::

Born in Manchester, Brian Farrell was educated at Coláiste Mhuire, Dublin, University College Dublin and Harvard. In 1955 he joined the administrative staff of UCD, became director of extramural studies and assistant to the registrar in 1957. From 1966 he lectured in the department of ethics and politics, going on to become senior lecturer in politics, acting head of the department and, in 1985, Associate Professor of Politics.

On retirement from UCD in 1994 he became director-general of the Institute for European Affairs. He has written a number of books on Irish political history, including Chairman or Chief?, The Founding of Dáil Éireann and a biography of Seán Lemass.
As a media commentator he contributed to the Irish Press, Irish Independent and Radio Éireann in the 1950s and 1960s, and for more than 30 years has presented RTÉ television’s main programmes of comment and analysis, successively Broadsheet, Newsbeat, Seven Days, Today Tonight and Prime Time.

Following his appointment by Síle de Valera T.D., Minister of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, he was chairman of the Arts Council of Ireland from 1998 to 2000.
Brian is currently president of the Dublin Business School and in April of this year was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the National University of Ireland.

brian  farrell
Maire McDonnell Garvey ::

Máire McDonnell Garvey was born in 1927 in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon. She moved to Dublin in 1948 where she currently lives. In 1971 she received a B.A. Degree in Gaeilge, History and English from UCD and the following year received a Higher Diploma in Education.

Following this she taught in a Community College in Clondalkin. She plays fiddle, researches Irish traditional music, has written numerous books and is a member of various historical and musical societies. She is a founder member of Cómhrá na dTonn Group.

Maire just recently published her latest work “Under the Shadow of the Summerhills” - an account of the formative years of growing up in Tobracken, Ballaghaderreen from 1927 to 1948. The book gives a graphic account of history, politics, social life, characters and traditional music. She has also recently reissued the ‘Collection of Traditional Irish Dance Music’, which was edited and bowed scientifically for the violin with 26 original compositions arranged for piano or violin by P.J. Giblin, first compiled by Giblin and published in Germany in 1928.

Nollaig McKeon ::

Nollaig McKeon was appointed Heritage Officer to Roscommon County Council in August 2001. During that time she established the County Roscommon Heritage Forum and worked with the Heritage Forum to prepare and implement the County Roscommon Heritage Plan 2004-2008, which was launched in April 2004.

The aim of the County Roscommon Heritage Plan is to create and promote an increased knowledge, awareness and appreciation of the natural, built and cultural heritage of County Roscommon, and to conserve it for future generations. Other tasks carried out by the Heritage Office include preparing and maintaining the Record of Protected Structures for County Roscommon and providing advice and information on all aspects of heritage to the staff of Roscommon County Council and to the general public.

The Heritage Office recently published a booklet ‘Roscommon Artefacts in the National Museum of Ireland’ which identifies artefacts on display in the National Museum of Ireland from County Roscommon.

Cathal Goan ::

Cathal is a native of Belfast and a graduate of University College Dublin. He joined RTÉ in 1979, initially working with RTÉ Radio as a Producer and Senior Producer before moving to RTÉ TV in 1988. Having worked in Current Affairs and as Editor of Cúrsaí, the Irish language current affairs and arts programme, Cathal was appointed Editor of Irish Language Programming in 1990.

He was appointed Ceannasaí of Teilifís na Gaeilge in August 1994 and oversaw the establishment of the channel which became TG4, Ireland's third national television service. He was appointed Director of RTÉ Television and a member of the RTÉ Executive Board in March 2000.

Cathal is Chairman of the Irish Traditional Music Archive and in October 2003 Cathal was appointed Director-General of RTÉ.

:: Len Graham

Born in County Antrim to a family steeped in traditional music and song, Len Graham was heavily influenced by the tradition of his own locality. He has been cultivating the song traditions of his native Ulster all his life. He became a full-time professional singer in 1982 and now performs at festivals throughout the world with the storyteller John Campbell.

Len also makes frequent appearances at festivals throughout Ireland and Europe with his wife, the singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. Among the poets with whom Graham has performed are Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney, Brendan Kennelly and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Len Graham is also a noted collector, and some of his field recordings have been published by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

He has record 12 albums to date, mainly on the Claddagh label. He is the only singer of traditional songs in English to have been recorded by Gael Linn. Le is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in 1993 and more recently the TG4 National Music Award for ‘Traditional Singer of The Year’. He has been an important source of songs for many of Ireland’s leading traditional bands and singers, including Altan, The Chieftains, De Danann, Dolores Keane, Karen Casey and many others.

:: Tony MacMahon

Since 1969 Tony Mac Mahon has been doing regular freelance presentation for RTÉ television, with seminal performers like Seán Ó Conaire and John Kelly on Aisling Geal, then Ag Déanamh Ceol - where Clannad was the first group he introduced to camera. In 1974 he joined the RTE staff as radio producer and put The Long Note on the air. Later moving to television, his own most memorable achievement there is the television series The Pure Drop.

More than any other single performer, perhaps, Mac Mahon has projected the depth and power of the tradition into the electronic age. He has played on stage with, among many others, Joe Cooley, Micho Russell, Seamus Ennis, Sean O'Riada, Roger Sherlock, Bobby Casey, the Fiach Rua Cheoil band that included Paddy Murphy, Peter O'Loughlin and Hughdie Doohan, with the Tulla band, with the Kilfenora, with Sony Brogan and Bill Harte, but he is not sanguine about the present or the future.

To quote Fintan Vallely, who may always be relied on, Mac Mahon’s view is that “Despite the proliferation of more technically-able musicians than ever before… the music is in serious and terminal decline. Few musicians excite him - among them are piper Sean P McKiernan, fiddler John Carty, Frankie Gavin and the sean nós singers of Connemara: "They bring out music that would swell your mind with oxygen". Quoted once as considering 'no boghole too deep for all the accordions in Ireland', the seeming paradox of this accordionist is explained by his perception of himself as trapped in that instrument as his vehicle for expressing his soul and touching hearts.

Acknowledged widely as a modern master, Mac Mahon was awarded the TG4 Gradam Cheoil in 2004.

:: Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin

Born into an Irish-speaking family in County Louth, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin has been living in Suth Asrmagh with her husband Len Graham since 1982. She has worked for many years on traditional music programmes on RTÉ with the renowned Ciarán Mac Mathúna. She has recorded five albums of songs on the Gael Linn and, in the USA, Shanachie labels.

Recipient of many awards, she was awarded a fellowship to complete her research on the song tradition which issued in the acclaimed book A Hidden Ulster, an immensely important resource text, the first major study in English of the southeast Ulster Gaelic song tradition. Her album An Dealg Óir (The Thorn of Gold) was nominated as folk album of the year in 2002. Seán Mac Réamoinn has described Pádraigín as “One of the devoted and talented few who has restored forgotten riches to our common patrimony.”

When she performs with Len Graham their programme gives a unique insight into the song tradition of their native Ulster, mixing love songs, macaronic and mouth music, the literary and the lament. Listeners are treated to a celebration of two rich traditions in all their rich diversity, inclusivity and shared common ground.
:: Gearóid Ó Crualaoich

Born in Cork, Gearóid is a graduate of UCC, and a post-graduate alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania (Folklore) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (Anthropology).

Gearóid taught Folklore at Cornell University and at Boston College, and he has been external examiner in Scottish Ethnology at Edinburgh University. He recently retired as Head of the Department of Folklore and Ethnology at NUI Cork. He is the author of the groundbreaking Book of The Cailleach. Stories of The Wise-Woman Healer, published in 2003.

He has also published on the traditional Irish life-cycle rituals of the Merry Wake. Translations by him of poems by Máirtín Ó Direáin and Michael Davitt have been published, as have a number of articles on aspects of Gaeltacht literature.

:: Sean O’Laoire

Sean O’Laoire is a founding Director of Murray Ó Laoire Architects. Educated at University College Dublin and at the University of California, Los Angeles, he combines architecture with a specialism in urban design / planning and worked and studied in England, Italy and the US, before serving for three years as a Senior Lecturer in Urban Design at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

He ventured into private practice with Hugh Murray in 1979. In 1982, he opened the Dublin office of Murray Ó Laoire and is a director of Murray Ó Laoire International, which has operated in Moscow since 1992 and in Warsaw since 1999. The practice now employs 160 professionals. The work of the practice has been published extensively in the National and International publications.

A past Vice President of the RIAI, he has been responsible for a number of award winning architectural projects including the Civic Park at Arthur's Quay Limerick, winner of the prestigious Triennial Gold Medal from the RIAI in 1995 and the Irish Pavilion at Expo 2000 at Hanover, Germany. He has also been project leader on a wide range of planning and urban design projects, many of which have been rewarded with national and international awards including the prestigious R.T.P.I. Award for City Centre Development.

Recent prestigious commissions in the public realm (with other consultants) the Dublin Docklands Area Master Plan (1996), the largest ever undertaken in Ireland, and a Study on the Urban Renewal Schemes, a comprehensive review of incentive based urban renewal, which is currently informing government policy.

:: Rónán Ó Snodaigh

A founding member of Kíla, Rónán is an accomplished poet and musician. He has written poetry in both Irish & English and found that the rhythm of the words helped form his percussive, chant-like singing style. Rónán is recognized for his unique technique of playing the Bodhrán, which has often been likened to Africa’s talking drums and the Indian tablas.

In addition to Kíla, Ó Snodaigh has played and recorded with the group Dead Can Dance. Rónán released his first solo Album Tip Toe in May 2001 to great critical acclaim. It was a surprising first solo endeavour for Rónán seeing him leaving his native Irish for a English song guitar based album; 2004 saw the release of Tonnta Ró his second solo record, a bodhrán-based album with Irish songs is a much more percussive led work. His third album, The Playdays released in April this year, returns to his lyrical songwriting and is a collection of 11 very melodic, soulful songs.

In 2003 he published his first book, Luscadán a collection of Irish poems and songs and this was followed in 2004 by his first book in English, Songs. Hot Press readers voted him in the top ten of Irish musicians in their 2004 Readers Poll, in which Kíla topped the Best Trad Band Poll.

:: Dominic Stevens

Dominic Stevens has won numerous Architectural Association of Ireland Awards and Special Mentions for his completed projects, his work has been published in architectural journals Internationally.He received the Arts Council of Ireland / OPW research Bursary The Kevin Kieran Award 2005 -2006 and is Roscommon County Council architect in Residence 2005. He has work currently exhibited in the RHA Gallery annual exhibition.

I run a one-person practice in rural Ireland. I divide my time between architecture and farming. Just as I believe that buildings are inextricably linked to the lives that happen in them, my practice as architect is bound closely to my consciousness as father and farmer. My office is not a citadel protected by expertise, rather, it has fertile edges that actively absorb the life that surrounds it. I carry out one building project at a time informed by ongoing theoretical work, my work evolves as a series of firmly held beliefs tempered by practice. In order to record ideas as well as buildings I make books. The first, Domestic, was published in 1999.

:: John Tiernan

John Tiernan graduated from U.C.G. with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1970 after which he commenced his career in the private sector working for E.G. Pettit & Co, Consulting Engineers.

In l972 he joined the Department of Fisheries working on fishery development and pollution control. He moved to Offaly County Council and then to Westmeath County Council where he had special responsibility for the design of the Athlone relief road. He became County Engineer with Cavan County Council in l989 during which he over-saw the publication of a number of best practice engineering guidelines.

He took up office as County Manager with Leitrim County Council in 2000 and in January 2002 he became County Manager of Roscommon County Council.