Launch of Archive at Áras an Mhuilinn
LAUNCH OF ÁRAS AN MHUILINN ARCHIVE
Áras an Mhuilinn in Mullingar is a Comhaltas regional centre for the counties of
Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford. On Friday March 31st next a milestone event will take place in the Áras, when the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Regional Archive for Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford will be launched.
At national level Comhaltas already has a major archive of traditional material. In tandem with that, however, each Comhaltas regional centre is mandated to create an archive of material from its own area. Work is already under way in this regard in Áras an Mhuilinn.
The Áras already holds many old recordings of such outstanding local performers as Frank Gavigan and Willie Reynolds (Westmeath), Joe Smullen and Denis Ryan (Offaly), Noel Strange and Noel Clyne (Longford) and Tom Ahearne and Sean Ryan (Laois) While these are well known and important figures in the field of traditional music there are many lesser known but nonetheless very important local performers whose contribution to traditional culture should be acknowledged and preserved where possible.
To this end Áras an Mhuilinn is seeking recordings- audio and/or video- of local musicians in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford. Such recordings will be digitised and conserved, and the original material will be returned to the donor, if that is their wish. In this context, home recordings are of huge importance, whether they be old reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes or whatever.
Old songs, old unusual tunes or even recordings of conversations with old now-deceased performers can be of huge importance, no matter how trivial they may seem to the owners. Old photos, fleadh programmes and music-related documents are also of great interest to the archive personnel.
The importance of this area of work will be underscored when, on Friday March 31st at 8 pm, Mr. Labhras Ó Murchú, Ard-Stiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will be on hand to perform the official launch of the local archive.
It promises to be a night of seanchas and reminiscence with old recordings being played, many of which have never been heard publicly before.
However, the launch will, in reality, be only the end of the beginning. In time to come the archive will be available for people to draw upon as a research aid for students of traditional music, for family research by descendants of local musicians, or maybe just for someone who wants to pick up old songs or tunes.
A further extension of the scope of the archive will come in the near future, when it is intended to make recordings ‘in the field’ of local musicians or singers in their own homes or at local sessions. In this regard, Áras personnel will work in close consultation with local Comhaltas branches to ensure that recording session venues and times are suitable and convenient to the local performers.
It has rightly been said ‘if we forget our past we lose our future’. To this end it is the aim of Comhaltas, through its regional centres, to gather and preserve as much as possible of the music and lore of those who have gone to their eternal reward, the people who kept the flame of Irish culture alive through bad times and good.
Gura fada buan a gcuimhne.