Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, ‘ag teacht le cuan’: Irish traditional music and the Aran Islands (PhD, University College Cork, 2011)

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 Author:  Ní Chonghaile, Deirdre 
 Title:  ‘ag teacht le cuan’: Irish traditional music and the Aran Islands 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, University College Cork 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2011 (2010) 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (376pp.) 
 Supervisor(s):  Mel Mercier 
 General specialism:  Ethnomusicology 
 Content, timeframe:  1821-present 
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Genres, instruments: 
identity, dissemination, aesthetics, myth and its perpetuation, insider/outsider, regional style, antiquarianism, music and place, broadcasting, recording, fieldwork
Sidney Robertson Cowell, Séamus Ennis, W.R. Rodgers, Proinsias Ó Conluain, David Thomson, Heinrich Becker, Jean Ritchie, George Pickow, Diane Hamilton, Liam Clancy, John C. Messenger, Ciarán Bairéad, Muiris MacConghail, Robert Flaherty, Frances Flaherty,
Árainn, Inismór, Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr, Inishmore, Arranmore, Inishmaan, Inisheer, Co. an Chláir, Co. Clare, An Bhoireann, Burren, Doolin, Dúlainn, Sráid na nIascairí, Galway Bay, Conamara, Connemara, Ceantar na nOileán, Carna, Leitir Mealláin, Rosamhíl,
RTÉ, Irish Folklore Commission, Cnuasach Béaloideas Éireann, BBC, Raidió Éireann, NUI Galway, Folkways, Library of Congress, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Today FM, TG4, TnaG, Teilifís na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí na hÉireann
Accordion, uilleann pipes, bagpipes, melodeon, flute, tin whistle, violin, fiddle, guitar, bodhrán, drums, spoons, spunóga, veidhlín, fidil, bosca ceoil, cáirdín, concertina, cruit, cláirseach, harp, fíf, fife, fliúitín, voice, bouzouki, mandolin, maindil

Irish traditional music has been practised in the Aran Islands over the last two hundred years at least. In that time, Aran has acquired a cultural importance in local, national and international contexts. Aran is now a palimpsest buried almost ‘Pompeii-deep in interpretations’ (Robinson 1992, xvii). Yet, surprisingly, comparatively little of the rich Aran canon engages directly with Irish traditional music or, indeed, with any genre of music. In fact, music has been marginalised within the Aran canon. As a result, the music of Aran has also been marginalised within the wider contexts of Irish traditional music and Ireland. This is largely because of Aran’s island location and because the Aran canon is authored mostly by visitors and not islanders. For Aran islanders, music is an essential element of life, performed and experienced in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Issues of context, perspective, authority and authorship are, therefore, key to understanding representations of music in Aran.

Addressing these issues, this dissertation will focus on music collectors, who play such a vital part in creating the canons by which we often measure the musics of the past and of the present. It will question what inspired, motivated, influenced and challenged four visiting collectors and one local collector of music in Aran, and it will query their methods of representing traditional music. It will bring a critical eye to these representations of traditional music and to the processes of selection, collection and publication behind them. It will shed new light on the parts that performers, collectors and publishers play in making Irish traditional music such an evocative and pervasive element of Irish culture. Ultimately, it will begin a process of redressing the marginalisation of the music of Aran, and of bringing the music of Aran to a new audience.