‘A Hidden Ulster – people, songs and traditions of Oriel’ – Order Here


Filming & Recording for Oriel Arts video performances

Omeath County Louth

ORIEL ARTS videos were filmed and recorded in Counties Louth and Armagh by television producer/director Feilimí O’Connor. The videos of musicians at illustrative workshops, concerts and lectures were filmed at Éigse Oirialla held in the hospitable Granvue Hotel in Omeath, County Louth.

Granvue Hotel Omeath venue of Éigse Oirialla.

The Granvue is situated on the shoreline across from the Hall family castle in County Down which was the probable residence of Ailí Ni Chearbhaill, mother of Jenny and Patrick Hall, and the subject of the Omeath poet, Séamus Dall Mac Cuarta‘s harp-song Ailí Gheal Chiúin Ní Chearbhaill (Charming Fair Eily). Omeath was a Gaeltacht the day before yesterday, where many songs filmed here were collected. It was a fitting venue for the celebration and performance of ORIEL ARTS at Éigse Oirialla.

Other videos were filmed and kindly contributed by various companies and individuals including Moira Sweeney, Céara Ní Choinn, Michael Quinn, Máirín Seoighe, Michael Fortune, ITMA, TG4, BBC and RTE.

Mullaghban, County Armagh

Videos of individual musicians for ORIEL ARTS were filmed in Belmont Barracks, in Mullaghban, County Armagh. Belmont Barracks was built as an English Barracks in 1795, and was later a parochial house.


Like the song and music tradition, it has its own chequered history.

Belmont Barracks Mullaghban Co Armagh where General Lake stayed c.1797 © Oriel Arts

Belmont Barracks Mullaghban Co Armagh where General Lake stayed c.1797 now called Teach a’ Ghleanna © Oriel Arts

In 1984 when Belmont Barracks went into private ownership, it was renamed Teach a’ Ghleanna. The former barracks is situated in a commanding position on the circumference of the Ring of Gullion hills, on the Glendesha road, where the last Gaelic song Tá ‘na Lá was known to have been heard c.1940 from a native Irish speaker in Oriel called Mary Michil Tarry Hollywood. (AHU p. 330). Here, too, lived an Irish speaking community until the early 20th century.  It is a rural setting of inspiring landscape and memory:

Glendesha, known as Gleann Déise to the older people, is typical of many remote places in southeast Ulster where, until recent times, some of its last native Irish-speakers and singers lived. It is a narrow mountain road with a scattering of empty ruined houses bridging the townlands of Shanroe and Carrive and cutting through the Ring of Gullion hills. It leads towards the border dividing part of the north from the south of Ireland, where once it led to Bealtaine, Gróbh na Craoibhe, Cnoc a’ Damhsa – and other nearby places that echo other days.

This road meanders through a landscape of standing stones on high ground – relics of a secret past – and in lower overgrown places are the large slabs of mass rock and market stone once used for secret prayer and busy trade. It is lined with native trees of rowan, holly and fairy thorn and hazel groves where herds of wild goat now wander freely. Fields are small and stony and used for sheep and cattle grazing while idle meadows yield willingly to the invasive yellow-ochre ragwort. In late spring the thorny whins erupt in a blaze of golden blossom awakening the senses with a sweet and heady fragrance and mingling with the magical May flower of the hawthorn – the harbinger of summer – once a potent symbol of fertility at the heart of rural festivities. Later in the season the hedges and ditches edge along in filigree of cow parsley, guarded by the purple-hooded foxglove or ‘banshee’, as it was known here. The hawk still hovers above Glendesha at Sáil na Bróige, swooping from the wooded hills on unsuspecting prey. Autumn glows with an abundance of hazelnut and edible berries – fraughan, sloe and black bramble and crops of wild mushroom and wild life, to feed the remaining populace of squirrel, fox and pheasant. Winter draws in with a lonesome, hibernating stillness. It is a tranquil place, a place of memory – a silent Gaeltacht.’

A Hidden Ulster, pp.330-1