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Caithréim: Music and Song from the Plays of Patrick Pearse

By Cló Iar-Chonnacht, Síle Denvir

Reference: CICD201  

Winner: Traditional Album of the Year 2016 in the Nós Music Awards. 

Shortlisted in The Ticket Awards 2016, The Irish Times for the Best Traditional Album of 2016. 

In the years before the 1916 rising, Patrick Pearse wrote and produced a number of plays and pageants in Irish and English. Although Pearse himself was reportedly tone deaf, his use of music and song as an integral part of his plays leads us to believe that he understood the effect music and song could have on an audience. Pearse frequently integrated songs into his plays as conversation and so, song became an intrinsic part of the action.

This CD presents arrangements of the music and songs from Pearse’s plays, including songs composed by Pearse himself, such as ‘An Chaithréim’, while also including traditional sean-nós songs such as An ‘Draighneán Donn’. The CD also includes a very comprehensive booklet. 

Síle Denvir

Síle Denvir hails from Indreabhán in the Connemara Gaeltacht. An accomplished performer, Síle is a sean-nós singer and harpist and is a founding member of the group Líadan. She has a particular interest in Irish-language song in a modern context and in 2008 Cló Iar-Chonnacht published her book Dearcadh an tSaoil – Amhráin Chiaráin Uí Fhátharta, an edition of songs composed by the Connemara songwriter Ciarán Ó Fátharta. She received her PhD from the University of Limerick in 2012 and she is currently a lecturer in the Irish department at Dublin City University. Síle is a regular contributor to various TV and radio programmes and she is the presenter of the programme ‘Sean-Nós’ on TG4.

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Product Reviews

Review by Siobhán Long, The Irish Times, Friday, 26 May, 2016

This remarkable album tiptoed beneath the radar amid the cacophony of events surrounding the centenary of 1916, but its longevity is underwritten by the vision of the artist, Síle Denvir.

Caithréim (“Triumph”) traces a route through the songs of Patrick Pearse’s plays, some them ages old, others of his own composition.

Surprising as it is to hear of Pearse’s hand in the writing of the lyrics to Óró Mo Bháidín, it is Denvir’s rooted delivery, her minimalist vocal style, and her utter possession of everything from the mournful Caoineadh Mhuire to the playful Ding Done Didero that leave the lasting impressions.

With accompaniment of the most delicate precision on pipes, fiddle, concertina and shruti box, this is a collection that yields fresh insights with every return visit. Read the original review on the Irish Times website at www.irishtimes.com

Cúinne beag ceolmhar an Phiarsaigh, Pól Ó Muirí, The Irish Times, July 2016 www.irishtimes.ie

“Bíonn a léamh féin ag chuile dhuine ar an bPiarsach mar fhear, mar scríbhneoir, mar réabhlóidí, mar pholaiteoir, mar oideachasóir, mar Ghael. Léiríonn an ceol agus na hamhráin a luaitear ina chuid drámaí go raibh cúinne beag dá aigne a thug spás ar leith don cheol agus a chreid go raibh fiúntas agus luach ag baint leis do phobal na hÉireann trí chéile.”

Sin mar a scríobhann Síle Denvir agus í ag cur a dlúthdhiosca nua, Caithréim (Cló Iar-Chonnacht), i láthair. Tá an ceart aici fosta; tá sí i ndiaidh teacht ar mhír de shaol an Phiarsaigh a raibh faillí déanta inti. Is beag duine – an t-iriseoir seo san áireamh – a thugann aird ar an ghné seo de shaol cruthaitheach an Phiarsaigh.

Is orainn atá an t-ádh go raibh fís ag Denvir nach raibh ag an chuid eile againn.

Seacht bpíosa ceoil atá ann, amhráin a bhaineann le drámaí an Phiarsaigh.
Ceol traidisiúnta atá ann, a deir tú?

Sea agus ní hea.

Ceol traidisiúnta atá ann sa mhéid is go n-aithneoidh tú na píosaí ceoil agus go mbaineann siad leis an seánra sin.

Ach tá Denvir i ndiaidh rud inteacht sa bhreis a chur leo.

Tá a cuid féin déanta ag Denvir de na píosaí go díreach mar a dhéanann, abair, an cumadóir comhaimseartha, Arvo Pärt, a chuid féin den cheol claiseacach.
Aithníonn tú an seánra ach tá cumas cruthaitheach as an úr le mothú ina chur chuige – agus i gcur chuige Denvir sa chás seo.

Tá Denvir le cluinstin i mbun amhráin agus i mbun ceoil sa dlúthdhiosca agus is í a chóirigh na píosaí, beagnach ar fad.

Comhdháil acadúil ar dhrámaí an Phiarsaigh a spreag í le tabhairt faoin saothar an chéad lá riamh agus is fiúntach an toradh é, Caithréim, ar an taighde a rinne sí ó shin.

Shocraigh sí “go mbeadh an chláirseach, an phíb uilleann agus an fhidil lárnach sa gcóiriú mar mhacalla ar na huirlisí a bhí á gcur chun cinn agus á gcasadh ag cuid de lucht na hAthbheochana ag tús na haoise seo caite”.

Is iontach an macalla é, idir a glór taibhsiúil féin agus na huirlisí. Ní bréag a rá go dtugann Denvir léargas eile ar an Phiarsach; tá an ceart aici go bhfuil “cúinne beag dá aigne” aimsithe aici; cúinne a bhí ina thost le fada, rófhada.

Ní bhaineann dua ar bith le héisteacht le ceol ach níl na focail agam cur síos mar is ceart a dhéanamh ar éifeacht nó ar thionchar nó ar thocht an cheoil anseo aici. Éisteann tú leis an phíosa An Chaithréim nó Caoineadh Mhuire nó Gráinne Mhaol agus corraíonn siad an croí agus an t-anam ionat.
Dá mbíodh focail le cur síos ar na mothúcháin sin agat, scríobhfá dán!
Bailíonn sreanga na n-uirlisí thart ar do cholainn agus tugann na nótaí ceoil siar i do ghiall go ré an Phiarsaigh thú.

Tá tú ina chuideachta, ag éisteacht leis na hamhráin ar éist sé leo, tá tú leis, ar bhealach mistéireach.

Níl na focail agam lena ceart a thabhairt do Denvir ná dá comhghleacaithe, Thomas Johnson, Aoife Ní Argáin, Síomha Mulligan, Éadaoin Ní Mhaicín agus Claire Dolan.

Tá éacht déanta acu. Saothar ábalta álainn atá anseo ag Denvir, saothar luachmhar. D’aithneodh an Piarsach féin fiúntas an tsaothair seo nó tá cur chuige Denvir ag teacht lena mhianta féin.

Ag caint ar chúrsaí litríochta, dúirt an Piarsach: “Irish literature, if it is to live and grow, must get into contact on the one hand with its own past and on the other with the mind of contemporary Europe.

“It must draw the sap of its life from the soil of Ireland: but it must be open on every side to the free air of heaven.”

Tá an méid céanna fíor faoi cheol, nach bhfuil?

Tá an méid sin bainte amach ag Denvir.
Tá ceol Denvir beo in ithir na hÉireann agus tá a cuid ceoil ag fás as an nua.

SILE DENVIR - Caithreim: Songs And Music From The Plays Of Patrick Pearse, The Living Tradition, www.livingtradition.co.uk, Review by Jim McCourt

Sile Denvir’s stunning vocal performance is the outstanding feature of this beautiful album. Confident, clear and sensitive, her rich alto tones perfectly suit the timbre and strong melodies of its six songs. An accomplished performer, and academic, she also plays the clarsach, harmonium, violin and shruti box, and has selected and arranged the music.

Patrick Pearse, from whose plays the pieces are derived, was reputed to be tone-deaf! However, he is credited with several part-compositions, and he certainly recognised the fundamental importance of folk culture and song. This is reflected in tracks such as the soulful An Chaithreim with its echoes of ninth century poetry, and the traditional Draighnean Donn - one of the great Irish language love songs, it could be an incantation from 1000 years ago. Ding Dong Didero, a work-song but reminiscent of a lullaby, is equally old. Delicate clarsach play is a pleasure throughout, not least on the one instrumental track (S’Ambo Aera). Two tunes follow songs, and uilleann pipes, whistles and cello add to the tasteful accompaniment.

A booklet, including a bibliography, contains lyrics, although much of the text is in Irish Gaelic – like the songs themselves. However, unfamiliarity with the language in no way impairs the listening experience.

The resonance and ringing clarity of Sile Denvir’s voice gives the songs an anthemic quality, touching the heartstrings, and conjuring visions of the land and its ancient history. Although less than 30 minutes in duration, Caithreim is a lesson for all singers, and a joy to hear. www.cic.ie