O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 13

O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 13
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periodical Publisher
Regan Printing House, Chicago, 1913
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periodical Title
O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians
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2.4.Iris/ i Minstrels and .3jusiciansof Pluto, and by his lyre softening the obdurate heart of the grini monarch of theinfernal abodes. It possesses something much more of real life, and belongsmore to definite history. From the very remotest period to which oui oldesttraditions with any degree of circumstantiality refer, we find music, musicalinstruments, musical performers, and the power and influence of music spoken of.It is not within the scope of our purpose to include the names of bards andmusicians in the very ancient poems translated by O Curry. The figurativelanguage in which poets and genealogists of olden times clothed their thoughts,has given rise to the belief in the minds of modern writers that some of theircharacters were mythical or fictitious.Coming down to the borderland between legendary and authentic history.Prof. OCurry mentions Craftine a celebrated harper, who flourished about fourand a half centuries before the Incarnation. One of the several legends concerninghim, is to the effect that his instrument having sustained some injury he went to awood to find a tree suitable for his purpose and selected a willow.In a manuscript quoted by the above named antiquarian it is recorded thatamong the retinue of Conaire Mbr, who was killed in the year 33 B. C., werethree poets. nine pipe-players, and nine harpers.Roderic, King of Wales in the sixth century, was so celebrated both at homeand abroad for power, munificence and princely virtues, that a King of Irelandsent a Joculator or .Iougleur to the \Velsh court to examine the truth of whatfame reported. Being admitted, a writer in Anthologia. Hiber;ica of 1793 con-tinues. he sang and played on the harp and tamhour and delighted the King andhis nobles on the Christmas holidays, after which the King ordered rich presentsto be brought to the bard.No one will question our being on reliable ground, when relating that aharper named Ilbrechtach accompanied Mac Liag, chief poet of Ireland on hisvisit to llrian Born at the beginning of the eleventh century.From the Annals of Ireland we learn that in ii68 Anililaeihh Mac Mnaigh-neorach, chief Ollamh of Ireland in harp-playing died.In the year 1269 Hugh OFinnachty, a learned minstrel died.It is recorded in the Annals of Clonniacnoise that Muironie Mac Kerval,(Caruill), the blind chief Musician of the Kingdom, with his brother and mansothers, were slain in an uprisin of the English in 1328. No man in any ageever heard, or shall hereafter hear, a better timpanist. In other accounts MacKerval, or Mac Caruihl, is proclaimed as great a minstrel as the world everheard. By timpanist is to be understood a minstrel or harper.In the Annals compiled by Friar John Clvn, of Kilkenny, under date of1329. vigil, of Penticost. he mentions Cam OKavr vi1l, a famous timpanist andperformer on the cythar; a fenix in execution, and so preemineritly distinguishedwith his school of about twenty musicians, that though he could not he calledthe inventor of stringed musical instruments, lie was the niaster and director ofall his own contemporaries, and superior to all his predecessors.OCarroll, like OCaroian, was allowed to be the foremost bard of his age.With his pupils and his patron, Lord Bellingham, he met a tragic fate, for theywere all cruelly massacred by an armed multitude which rose to oppose the oppressive measures of the nobles.Donslevy Mac Carroll. a noble master of music and melody, died in 1357.He was the best of his time.Gilla-na-naev OConnihaigh. (110w Conway), chief professor of music inThomond, died in 1360.irish Harpers in History25Magrath OFinuachtv, chief musician and timpanist to the SilMurray, diediii 1361.John MacEgan and Gilbert OBardan, two accomplished young harpers ofConmaicne in the baron of Dunmore. County Galwav. died in 1369.William, son of Gilla Ceach Mac Carroll, the most eminent of the Irishin music, died in 1379.The keenness of a harper saved the life of Art Mac Murrogh, an uncom-promising opponent of the English in the year 1395. The latter accepted aninvitation to a banquet from the Lords of the Pale. Not suspecting treachery, hewas only accompanied by one attendant and his harper. Seated near a window theminstrel delighted the company with his music after the feast. The suddenchange from festive melodies to the Rosg Catha, or war song invited hismasters reprimand, and the resumption of it drew down upon his loyal headthe noblemans anger. Upon arising from the table to remonstrate, Mac Murroghsaw that the house was surrounded with armed men. Quickly brandishing hissword he cut his way through the surrounding forces and motinting his horseescaped in safety.Mathew O Ltunin Erenagh. of Arda. County Fermaiiagh. (lied in 1396. Hewas a man of various professions and skilled in history, poetry and music.Boethius Mac Egan, a man extensively skilled in Fenechus law and in music,died in 1399.Gilla Duivin Mac Curtin Ollamh of Ihoinand in Music, died in 1404.Finn OHaughluinn. chief timpanist of Ireland, died in 1490.James the Fourth of Scotland. himself a famous performer, was quite partialto Irish harpers. In the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, many entriesare found showing payments to them in the late years of the fifteenth century andthe early years of the sixteenth. It is interesting to find, Bruce Armstrong says.that Irish music was appreciated by King James, who was, we know, accustomedto bear Italian minstrels. luterers, fiddlers, English Lowland, and Highland harpers.and other skilled musicians.It must not be forgotten that the development of their instruments keptpace with their proficiency. for Gallilei, in his Ancient and Modern Music,published at Florence in 1581, states that the Irish harp of his time had 54 to 60strings, the majority being of brassa few being of steel for the higher notesas in the Clavichord.Richard Stanvhurst. whose work. Dc Rebus in H-ibernia Gestis, was pub-lished at Antwerp in 1584, is the only Irish writer who is not appreciative of Irishharpers and their music. He was fortunate, however, in meeting with onewhose performance pleased hihi.Cruise, a contemporary of our own, is by far the best harper within tilememory of man. He is entirely opposed to that barbarous din which otherselicit from their discordant anti badly strung harps. Such is the order of hismeasures, the elegant combination of his notes, and his observance of musicalharmony that his airs strike like a spell on the ears of his audience, and forceyou to exclaim not that he is the most perfect merely, hut in truth almost theonly harper. From his views of exclusiveness Dr. Lynch, author of CambrensisEversus and Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Keating, the historian, emphatically dissent.Assuredly there was never a time prior to the nineteenth century when Irelandcould boast of only one distinguished harper.The above named historian in a poem translated b Prof. OCurry, pays aglowing tribute to his harper Tadhg OCohthaigh. or OCoffey. The author asks:
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O'Neill, Capt. Francis
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O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians

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