Píobaire, An, Volume 1, Issue 3, Page 1

Píobaire, An, Volume 1, Issue 3, Page 1
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
Píobaire, An
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(20)na pioba 1\_ 14ri Pjob jgeVMl NA SAMHNA 1969Some radio programmes of Irish music leave one with the impression that the scripts were strungtogether on the way into the studio. The impression left by some television programmes, in theinterest of decency, is best left unrecorded. The six talks given on Radio Eireann recently byMIche6l 0 Rkibhaigh, on the Life and Times of Francis O Neill were of an entirely differentclass. Obviously the fruit of long and patient research they recorded a great deal of informa-tion about ONeill, not to be found in any published sources. It was evident from the presentationand delivery that the programme was ,in intent, an acknowledgment of the debt we owe O Neillfor his labours in the field of Irish traditional music. There is no doubt, as M(che d 0 Ricibhaighclaims, that O Neill has left us the greatest collection of Irish traditional music ever published.Francis ONeill was barn in West Cork in 1848, then an Irish speaking district. It was alivewith music, boasting many professional musicians, including Peadar Bc n 6 hEigeartaigh,a piper,from whom the young Francis acquired some of his music. When sixteen years old ONeill ranaway from home, reached Cork and signed on as a cabin boy on a merchant trawler bound forBoston. Later he was shipwrecked in the mid Pacific while bound for New Zealand, wasrescuedand landed after many days of hardship at San Francisco. He worked as a shepherd, a schoolteacher, a railroad clerk across the States before joining the police in Chicago. His promotionin the police was rapid, due to his untainted record and undoubted courage. He became ChiefSuperintendent in 1901 and retired five years later. These, in brief, are the salient pointsoutlined in the programme.In a talk some years ago qn Radio Eireann it was stated, by Donal OSullivan if my memory servesme, that ONeill was unable to notate music. Although he was responsible for publishing so muchmaterial, he left no music in his own handwriting. A reading of ONeills own description of hismusic collecting and of his collaboration with James ONeill (a Co. Down man and no relation),lends some credence to this assertion. Miche6l referred to this in his programme and statedcategorically that there was ample proof that Francis ONeill had notated hundreds of tunes. Thefact is an important one to establish and have on record. A note from Miche l covering the pointprecisely would be of historical value. What more fitting place for publication than An Pi obaire.Some of the musicians who participated in this programme were non-1raditional. A problem inmaking a programme of this kind is that specific tunes have to be used for illustration and traditionalplayers and singers are not available to render them in a traditional manner. Almost all airs playednowadays are derived from printed sources and very few are played or an seann 6 s. It would beinexcusable to include music so played in a programme of traditional music a fault scarcely everabsent from the Scora cht programmes produced at Montrose in collaboration with ComhaltasCeoltdiriEireann. In programmes not dealing immediately with the music it is a regrettablenecessity to have trained musicians illustrate a talk but this cannot be helped and, undoubtedly,the talks on Francis ONeill had an even wider appeal than they might have had because the songsand airs used were so rendered. Of its appeal there can be little doubt and Ciar6n Mac Math nasurely has it listed for a repeat on his schedule of future programmes.Members are reminded that the Annual Subscription ( 1) for 1969/70 is now due. The Treasurer willbe delighted to receive them at the meeting in Br 6 na nGael on 8 November, 1969.Members and their friends interested in music and song at its best will be pleased to know thatSeamas Ennis may be heard each Friday night at Slatterys in Capel Street.* * * * * * * * * * *I , Loma ( 4ofl ..t ce.o aJA a.tt r c c d L t e.ct . ct i o Lbk a .n tit mpc mc Ld .e
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Píobaire, An, Volume 1, Issue 3

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