Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 44, Page 13

Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 44, Page 13
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
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Píobaire, An
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13Historians will argue about Hugh O’Neill, hismotivations and his legacy for many years tocome. He was, indeed, a dark and enigmaticfigure but there is no doubt that he was one ofthe most important Gaelic leaders ever. Whenhe, Maguire and Rory O’Donnell left fromRathmullan they changed the course of Irishhistory.For the Gaels it was a time of terror and fear,of ethnic cleansing, genocide and regimechange, to use the modern terms. But in spiteof all that the early seventeenth century shouldnot be seen as a time of monodimensional andcataclysmic tragedy.This period in our history placed Ireland andIrish people at the heart of international poli-tics at a time when modern Europe was beingformed. It sowed the seeds for a large andinfluential Irish diaspora on mainland Europewhich continued to have a great impact onmartial, academic, political, religious anddiplomatic life back in Ireland.The 17th century saw a flowering of Gaelicpoetry and literature and actual numbers ofIrish speakers continued to increase, despitetheir lack of power and status, until the 1840s.The 19th century was to see a revival in inter-est in the Irish language and another flourish-ing of literature and art.The so-called “Flight of the Earls” hasinspired generation after generation of poets,writers and artists in many languages andmediums; from the Gaelic poet Eoghan RuaMac an Bhaird, who was on the ship, to JamesClarence Mangan, Seán Ó Faoláin, JohnMontague, Thomas Ryan, Thomas Kilroy,Brian Friel and Diarmuid Ó Doibhlin. Thiscollection of paintings by Brian Vallely, andmusical compositions by his son Niall, shouldbe seen as valuable contributions to that cor-pus.The above excerpt is taken from The Flight ofthe Earls/Turas na dTaoiseach (Ben MadiganPublications on behalf of Emer Gallery, ISBN978-0-9546110-3-3) – a limited edition bookpublished in conjunction with several eventsmarking the anniversary in 2007, including anexhibition of paintings by Brian Vallely, and aconcert featuring music from the old Gaelicharp tradition along with a modern suite onthe theme of the Flight composed by NiallVallely, Brian’s son. Both events took place inthe Grand Opera House, Belfast in Octoberand November of last year.One of the long-term effects of the Flight was,of course, the beginning of the decline of thenative polity and its culture. The Gaelic aris-tocracy had patronised the harpers and poets,for instance, and with the decline of thatpatronage (one hundred years later Carolanwas to a great extent dependant on Ango-Irishrather than Gaelic patrons), the heyday of thatmusic would come to an end.On the other hand, however, the settlersbrought with them elements which wereassimilated into, and now form an integralpart of what in modern times is recognised asIrish traditional music. Certain tune types,instrumental and vocal styles, and many indi-vidual items of repertoire in the Irish traditionowe their existence in Ireland to the activitiesof that newly-introduced community.Brian Vallely’s paintings depict the personali-ties and conflicts of the Nine Years War andthe subsequent departure of the Irish leaders.Pipers at the Erne Ford – J.B. Vallely
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Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 44

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