Following on from live events and an extended exhibition “Mother Tongue” at Kilkee’s Cultúrlann Sweeney (info and pix below), bringing my discoveries back to the community where it came from, my related Documentary “Coosheen’s Forgotten Seanchai and Son” premiered on Sunday December 16th, 2018 on Newstalk 106–108fm. Listen back to the podcast at your leisure above and here.
Here’s the blurb:
A Newstalk documentary for Bliain na Gaeilge in which producer Deirdre Mulrooney unearths the vernacular magic of forgotten Irish language village Coosheen, County Clare and its unsung storytellers – a special place which despite being on the windswept “Wild Atlantic Way” today doesn’t even register on Google maps.
Off the grid in West Clare, on the Doonbeg road 2km North of well known ‘Victorian seaside resort’ Kilkee the road-sign on a bare, ascending left turn announces “L2024”. L2024? You’d never guess that just over the brow of this hill, descending into the mighty Atlantic towards infinity, this modest boreen leads to what not so long ago was a thriving Irish language village of fisher folk, kelp collectors, and an award-winning storyteller with connections to Walt Disney.
Preferring anonymity, “Coosheen”, with its magnificent Atlantic vista North towards the Aran Islands, boasts no sign at all, let alone the Iar Ghaeltacht sign to which it is entitled, trumpeting its heritage on the “Wild Atlantic Way”. Join producer Deirdre Mulrooney who was lucky enough to spend her childhood summers in this remote spot, in her BAI-funded feature radio documentary “Coosheen’s Forgotten Seanchai and Son”, as she discovers a 1950 National Folklore Collection recording of the forgotten Oireachtas winning Seanchai even they never knew about – Padraig “Croaker” Ó Briain – who was born in 1873 and lived on the site where her parents built a traditional cottage in the 1980s.
Enlisting the help of young Irish scholar Ailbe Van der Heide, Professor Angela Bourke (Voices Underfoot; The Burning of Bridget Cleary; Maeve Brennan: Homeless at the New Yorker) and actor Pat Laffan (Father Ted; The Snapper; Barry Lyndon; The Queen; Abbey Theatre Company), together they decipher and unravel the magic of Croaker’s idiosyncratic and site-specific, yet universal fairy tales. Hear Pat Laffan re-enacting Coosheen Seanchai Croaker Ó Briain’s site-specific Clare Irish version of “The Widow’s Son”, translated to English for the first time ever, here:
Charting the transition from Clare Irish speaking Seanchai father to English language poet and memoirist son Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien (1920 – 1977), Aonghus Óg McNally (whose own grandfather Ray McNally, creator of Hedgeschool Master Hugh in Brian Friel’s 1980 play ‘Translations’, had a house in Coosheen village), sings the poet’s Coosheen memoir and witty lyrics back to life. Val Geary, last indigenous child in Coosheen village, and Anne Daly, great-grand-daughter of the Seanchai, reminisce on Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien’s mischievous and unforgettable character, and his drive to immortalise his beloved, but disappearing Coosheen village in verse.
Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at UCD (The Maamtrasna Murders), puts this intimate family story into the wider context of seismic language shift in Ireland.
Premiering “Caoineadh Chuaisin”, a haunting, original score by Rossa Ó Snodaigh of Kila, Irish language activist, author of several books ás gaeilge, and convenor of ‘Mindfield: An Puball Gaeilge’ at the Electric Picnic.