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“Coosheen’s Forgotten Seanchai and Son” on Newstalk December 16 and 22!

Sharing Croaker’s quirky local version of “The Widow’s Son”, re-enacted by the great Pat Laffan, interspersed with Sinead de Valera’s “The Magic Gifts” in the lovely theatre at Culturlann Sweeney, Kilkee, County Clare on November 23rd, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culturlann Sweeney, Kilkee, County Clare

I’m delighted that following on from great live events and an extended exhibition “Mother Tongue” at Kilkee’s Culturlann 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” premieres at 7am, Sunday December 16th, 2018, and 9pm Saturday December 22nd 2018, on Newstalk 106 – 108fm.  Listen back to the podcast at your leisure here.

 

Here’s the blurb:

 

A new 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.

 

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; while Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at UCD (author of the recently publishedThe 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.

Informal Chat about Mother Tongue at Culturlann Sweeney Gallery Space, December 1st, 2018, including sneak preview of radio documentary part one in STEREO in the theatre

Informal Chat about Mother Tongue at Culturlann Sweeney Gallery Space, December 1st, 2018, including sneak preview of radio documentary part one in STEREO in the theatre

Mary and Johnny Browne (friends of Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien); Anne Daly (Grand-niece of Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien, who sang his songs and reminisced about her Grand-uncle on the night); Mary Mulrooney (my Mum); & yours truly, at the opening event in Culturlann Sweeney on November 23rd, 2018, A great night of calling up and celebrating old ghosts of storytellers past from Coosheen!

At Mother Tongue opening event in Culturlann Sweeney Gallery Space on November 23rd, 2018

Mother Tongue installation with bed of kelp and carageen moss at Cultúrlann Sweeney

Mother Tongue hang in progress at Culturlann Sweeney

“Mother Tongue” installation “Rediscovery of Croaker’s Well”; “Coosheen at Lughnasa” at Cultúrlann Sweeney

Installation of Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien Slates, 1 & 2; Decomposition of The Poet’s Cottage; The Poet’s Cottage ca. 1980 at Cultúrlann Sweeney

Coosheen’s Forgotten Seanchai and Son features:

Anne Daly, great-grand-daughter of Padraig “Croaker” Ó Briain, fisherman and forgotten Seanchai of Coosheen

Val Geary, last indigenous child of Coosheen Village

Professor Angela Bourke, Author of “Voices Underfoot”, Famine Folio; The Burning of Bridget Cleary; Maeve Brennan: Homeless at the New Yorker

Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature & Drama at UCD, Author of The Maamtrasna Murders (UCD Press: 2018).

Aonghus Óg McNally (whose grandfather Ray McNally had a house in Coosheen), performs song/poems and Coosheen Memoir by Paddy “The Poet” O’Brien

Pat Laffan (Barry Lyndon; Father Ted; The Snapper; The Queen; Abbey Theatre Company) as Padraig “Croaker” Ó Briain

1950 Clare Irish recording of Croaker Ó Briain by National Folklore Commission, translated by Ailbe Van der Heide (UCD)

1950 recording of Pádraig Ó Briain by Tadhg Ó Murchadha courtesy of National Folklore Collection UCD

Original score by Rossa Ó Snodaigh of Kila (Irish language activist, author of several books in Irish)

Sound Supervision by Neil Kavanagh, Newstalk

Produced and narrated by Deirdre Mulrooney

Thanks to Siobhan Mulcahy, Clare Arts Officer, as well as Tom Corry and all at Culturlann Sweeney for their kind support of “Mother Tongue: Coosheen’s Forgotten Seanchai and Son”.