Éigse Oirialla – Amhráin agus Ceol is an Irish language arts festival which was held in the Granvue Hotel in Omeath 2015/2016 in an area where many of the songs in the SONG section of this website were collected.
Oriel’s cultural heritage is one of the richest in Ireland which drew collectors of music, language and song from many parts, over one hundred years ago, to gather its precious cultural gems for future generations.
Éigse Oirialla – Amhráin agus Ceol celebrated this unique inheritance of instrumental music and song from manuscripts published in A Hidden Ulster- people, songs and traditions of Oriel (2003), as a living music tradition. Concerts, workshops recitals, lectures and receptions were held over a total period of six days.
The title is a link with the former organisation Éigse Oirialla 1969-1994 and its wonderful work in celebrating 200 years of literary activity in Oriel. It was largely responsible for bringing to public awareness the great literary heritage of the southeast Ulster poets, Peadar Ó Doirnín, Art Mac Cumhaigh, Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta, Art Mac Bionaid, Pádraig Mac a’ Liondáin, Peadar Ó Geallagáin and Aodh Mac Domhnaill, from 1969 until 1992. Its many iconic publications by An Clóchomhair, have already inspired two generations of Irish language students, scholars, singers and musicians.
The festival celebrated this legacy with a lecture on the history of Éigse Oirialla by Éamonn Ó hUallacháin. Éigse Oirialla – Amhráin agus Ceol was also a celebration of other other aspects of this legacy – the poets, song writers and musicians who carried the oral traditions safely into our own times. Other lectures which were given in Irish included Dr Lillis Ó Laoire’s talk on literary connections between Oriel and Donegal; Dr Máire Uí Bhaoill on the Bunting collector James Cody; Dr Gearóid Trimble on the Crossmaglen collector Seán Ó hAnnáin, some of which can be heard in Speakers and Lectures section here.
The rich heritage of Irish language song, airs and dance music of Oriel and its longstanding connection with the Donegal Gaeltacht was a focus of this celebration. By inviting sean-nós singers from the Donegal Gaeltacht, together with singers from Oriel, Éigse Oirialla – ceol agus amhráin, the centuries old cultural transmission of song between the Donegal Gaeltacht and Oriel was celebrated and strengthened.
The Éigse Oirialla concerts, workshops, and lectures acknowledged the collectors singers, storytellers, dancers, fiddlers, harpers and pipers (AHU pp. 337-416) who drew solace from these traditions in good times and times of great hardship. It was through their diligence and commitment in retaining and transmitting this wonderful material, for the benefit of generations to come, that this rich store has survived.
Continuous research, renewal, practice and performance, such as was celebrated at Éigse Oirialla, ensures the continuity of this magnificent oral tradition.