The famous Irish poet Antaine Ó Raiftearaí may have complained that he was ag seinm cheoil do phócaí falamh (‘playing music for empty pockets’) but anyone who attended last night’s Irish poetry and music event at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic will have come away feeling much fuller than that blind poet’s pockets ever did.
As part of the ongoing Seachtain na Gaeilge, Tim Robinson (Parnell Fellow at Magdalene) held an informal discussion of the value of Irish placenames (Wednesday 9th March), before last night’s wonderful recital by the students of the Department’s modern Irish language classes, which ranged from Katie McIvor’s enchanting solo harp performance of The Waves of Gola to a rousing ensemble chorus of the old Jacobite song Óró sé do bheatha abhaile (‘You are welcome home’). The beautifully enunciated poetry performances were similarly varied, as the words of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Pádraig Pearse and Seán Ó Ríordáin (among others) and the landscape of Connemara (through a special visual presentation), were all vividly brought to life.
Katie McIvor plays The Waves of Gola
The performers are all students of modern Irish in Cambridge (while also studying and working in a variety of departments throughout the university) and hail from a variety of countries, including Holland, Australia, USA and Finland. Their high standard of Irish is a credit to their teacher in the Department of ASNC, namely Dr Margo Griffin-Wilson.
Ensemble performance of Irish songs
In the first performed poem, Ceist na Teangan (‘The Language Issue’), Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill wrote that she placed her hopes in the little Moses basket of the Irish language, in the anticipation that it might one day land in the lap of a Pharaoh’s daughter. It appears to be in good hands so far.
Students of Modern Irish in the University of Cambridge (in front of portraits of some of our illustrious Elrington & Bosworth Professors of Anglo-Saxon)