>Is anyone aware of any religious music in Ireland that one might consider
>"traditional" and/or unique to Ireland (as opposed to Rome?) This afternoon
>a friend and I were comparing musical genres of Scotland and Ireland, and
>when I mentioned the Gaelic Psalms, my friend couldn't come up with any
>similar music in Ireland. Also, I have three CDs with performances by
>No/irin Ni Riain, who is definitely singing songs from the Mass on a couple
>of them. But... is this "traditional", and in fact, is she a "traditional"
>singer - and representing traditional Irish music? I also have a fairly old
>recording from the "Mass of St. Francis of Assisi", but that also seems to
>me to be more remote from Irish people than the Psalms are from the Gaels
Quite a few people in Ireland have delved into writing religious music.
Problably the most well-known is Sea/n O/ Riada - who wrote at least one
Mass that I know of which is still extensively sung in Irish-speaking
communities in Ireland. He also founded Co/r Chu/il Aodha, which is an
Irish-language male choir in Cu/il Aodha in Co. Chorcaigh; it is now
managed by his son Peadar and they do some very interesting stuff (some of
you may have heard them on the BBC TV series "Bringing it all back home" or
on the cassettes/CDs of the same name).
You will probably get differing opinions as to whether this music can be
called "traditional." I don't see any reason why it can't, as jigs, reels,
hornpipes, polkas etc. have all been introduced to Ireland from abroad. The
only really indigenous music is the slow air - whether sung as sean-no/s or
played. Ballads have been sung in Irish (these would probably be faster
paced and more rhythmically regular than sean-no/s, for those of you who
want to know the difference) for several hundred years (at least, I think
so - I'm not sure exactly when people like O/ Cearbhalla/in started to
appear), and it is only in the last hundred years approximately that
ballads in English have been composed and sung. Often the air (tune) for
English ballads is taken from one of the more popular Irish ones, and thus
many of them have the same air, with just different words. Many people
would state most definitely that English-language ballads are not
"traditional" and would classify them as "folk music" instead. No/iri/n Ni/
Riain is an excellent singer, but many people would say she is not a
"traditional" singer. Possibly many others would say she is.
I have on occasion heard traditional music (by this I mean
reels/jigs/polkas/etc.) played at Mass in Ireland, though this is not
common (the occasion was the funeral of a well-respected man who taught
set-dancing in our village); I have more often heard slow airs played at
Mass (this is not uncommon).
My apologies for rambling on. To conclude, I will say that, in my opinion,
Irish traditional music is influencing many musicians of every genre in
Ireland today - it is becoming difficult to say what is "traditional" and
what is not, as many musicians are combining traditional music with one or
more types of other music. There is no longer a well-defined line one can
point to which divides traditional music from other kinds, only a hazy,
grey area in which aspects of many musics can be seen.
>Also, a few months ago, I remember someone mentioning that "religion" is
>a taboo subject here on these lists, but my current interest in the music
>from these countries leaves me with many questions about the influence of
>people's beliefs on their music. Both of these countries have such rich
>musical traditions, and it's fascinating to me, at least, to see how many
>ways they reflect the people in their cultures ... maybe even more
>interesting to look at their unexpected difference.
Whoever said this was mistaken. There are no "taboos" on CELTIC-L - any
subject which is related to celtic culture is welcome. Certainly religion
has played a major part in the history of several celtic cultures, so it is
definitely a topic for discussion.
Enough blathering for now.
Mo bheannacht oraibh uilig,
Se/amus Mac Conaonaigh
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