Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire
Samplaí Ceoil: Sound bites of the "Caoineadh"
CD launch of ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’ By Catherine Ketch (Corkman)
"Cathal Goan, Director General of RTE launched the recording of the famous lament ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’ set to music by Peadar Ó Riada at the Ionad Culturtha in Baile Bhuirne recently.
Goan described the piece performed by Cór Ban Chúil Aodha under Ó Riada’s direction as having captured the power of the lament - a poetic form he said that makes the connection between life and death. He said it was a work of art in which the tradition had come full circle bringing together the eighteenth century work composed in the area with the music composed the same locality.
History records that the Caoineadh was composed by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill over the body of her beloved husband Art Ó Laoghaire. The late eighteenth-century epic poem is renowned as one of the greatest laments and love poems of the Irish language, capturing the life and tragic death of Art on the 4th May 1773.
Mr Goan referred to the academic debate about whether the Caoineadh was a spontaneous composition on the spot by Eibhlín Dubh Ni Chonaill or a conscious literary piece composed over a period of time. One way or another it was a literary jewel, he said.
Thanks to Prof. Sean O Tuama who published the Caoineadh in the 1960s it became available to the public, Mr Goan said.
Peadar O Riada had a great understanding of the tradition and a feeling for the heart and spirit of the work, he said. The choral work while rooted in the Irish tradition also has elements of the European, brought together masterfully by O’Riada, he said. “I don’t know of any other choir who learnt a 45minute piece by ear without any written music he said, congratulating Mr O Riada on the vision for having done it.
Peadar Ó Riada wrote the music over a fifteen year period, blending the Caoineadh with a musical composition which enables present day audiences to re-acquaint themselves with the great lament.
He began composing the music for the Caoineadh in 1988 bringing together Cór Ban Chúil Aodha for the first time. In 1989 the choir performed the first third of the Caoineadh in Cork, Dublin and London. In the spring of 2001 the choir was regenerated in preparation for the world premier of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, performed in the Ionad Cultúrtha, Baile Mhúirne in March 2003.
The Caoineadh has since been performed in Macroom, Corca Dhuibhne, Waterville, Belfast, Dublin, Galway and in Cork City as part of both the Folk Festival and the International Choral Festival. Since the premier in 2003 the choir, which has nineteen members, is broadening its repertoire and Peadar Ó Riada is currently working on a new piece.
The CD, is distributed by Gael-Linn and is widely available."
Article copyright Catherine Ketch 2004.
This late eighteenth century epic poem is one of the greatest laments and one of the greatest love poems of the Irish Language.
Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill - wife of Art Ó Laoghaire - composed this caoineadh which captures the life and tragic death of her husband Art at the end of the eighteenth century. The caoineadh is divided into five parts composed in the main over the dead body of her husband at the time of the wake and later when Art was re-interred in Kilcrea. The five parts denote the various settings of the poem and also the other contributors to the caoineadh i.e. Art's sister and Art's father.
The caoineadh, featuring many traditional motifs, survived over the years in the oral tradition until it was documented by Éamonn De Bhál (c.1800) from Nóra Ní Shíndile, a keening woman from Millstreet, Co. Cork.
Tá Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire ar an gcaoineadh is mó cáil sa Ghaeilge. Chum Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill (aintín le Dónall Ó Conaill - An
Fuascailteoir) an caoineadh os cionn corp a fir chéile, Art Ó Laoghaire, a maraíodh ag deireadh na hochtú aoise déag. Caoineadh is ea é ina gcuireann
Eibhlín Dubh beatha agus bás tragóideach Airt os comhair an phobail i bhfilíocht phearsanta shaibhir. Cé go bhfuil gnéithe traidisiúnta an
chaointe le brath go láidir ar an saothar, is treise fós ar an mothú pearsanta tríd síos. Mar ba ghnáth ardaíonn daoine eile a bhí láithreach a nguth chomh maith - driofúr Airt agus athair Airt. Tarlaíonn sáraíocht idir dheirfiúr Airt agus Eibhlín Dubh. Cumadh formhór an chaointe le linn tórraimh agus sochraide agus cuireadh beagán leis nuair a deineadh Art a athchur i gCill Chré roinnt míonna ina dhiaidh san. Na ranna so a cumadh ar Art Ó Laoghaire, mhaireadar sa traidisiún béil go dtí gur ghlac Éamonn de Bhál i scríbhinn é (c.1800) ó Nóra Ní Shíndile, bean chaointe ó Shráid an Mhuilinn.
Cumadh an ceol ag baint úsáide as foirmle atá gaolmhar le ceol dúchasach na hÉireann agus as roinnt de nathanna an cheoil chlasaicigh Eorpaigh. Tá an bhéim ar an líne cheoil féin agus impleachtaí harmonic snoite ansan cé go ndeintear úsáid fhorleathan den nós polyphonic Eorpach mar mhaithe le
malairt datha agus fuaime. Tá patrún ciorcalach na hÉireann dá úsáid mar bhunstruchtúr ionas, tar éis deireadh a bhaint amach gur féidir dul siar go tosach agus tosnú arís díreach, fé mar is leathchúpla don bheatha an bás. Úsáidtear gléasanna difriúla ceoil idir na príomhcharaictéirí agus nasctar
móitífeanna éagsúla le pearsain agus le téamaí éagsúla tríd an gCaoineadh.
The music is composed using a formula based on the national music of Ireland and utilizing some of Classical European Music's manifestations.
The emphasis is on the melodic line, depending on it often to supply the harmonic implications while the European custom of Polyphony is used as
a means of colour and drama. The cyclical nature of Irish music is utilized so that one could start again at the beginning straight from the end of the piece just as death itself is the other half of life. Different keys are used to introduce the main characters and musical
motifs are used in conjunction with different personalities or themes in the Caoineadh.
Art Ó Laoghaire( Arthur O' Leary) 1747-1773
Born 1747 at Raleigh near Macroom he was educated in France and subsequently joined the Hungarian Hussars serving under the Empress Marie Therése. He achieved high rank for his valour on the field. He returned to Ireland bringing with him his favourite brown mare.
On the 19th of December 1769, he married Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill and they enjoyed a high standard of living. Art had considerable property. He
was high spirited and courageous. All of these attributes combined to excite the jealousy of Mr Abraham Morris, the High -Sheriff in the Macroom
district, at that time. (There are various accounts of the events that lead to Art's death. It is not clear which of these is true though all are centred on the bitter enmity that existed between Art O' Leary and Abraham Morris (1) Art O' Leary's brown mare led the field at the Muskerry Hunt (and/or at a race in Macroom in which Morris' horse was also involved) and Morris was enraged at the display of a Catholic's horse leading the field. He offered O 'Leary £5 for the horse -at the time the Penal Laws forbade a Catholic to keep or have a horse which exceeded £5 in value (a statute of William III). Art O 'Leary
refused and a brawl followed. A meeting of the magistrates was arranged and O' Leary was declared an outlaw. Morris, because of his role as High
Sheriff, was in a position to use the law to his advantage here. (2) Another version recounts that a dispute arose over priority in receiving a drink of
water from an old woman at a spring. Art struck Morris and was forced to stand trial. He absconded and escaped abroad. He was then proclaimed an
outlaw and after some time he returned home where he made no attempt to disguise himself. A notice was posted by Art in 1771 ..."whereas I have been
charged with different crimes, by different persons, I give this public notice that I will be prepared to stand my trial at the next Assizes in
Cork" (3) The final account is as follows. Morris was at Drishane castle with a Dominic Harding and upon hearing this; Art was determined to meet him
on his way home to try to settle the matter. Art visited a public house in Carriganima for a few drinks and then continued on his way to Drishane.
Meanwhile a warning had reached Morris in Drishane and a group of soldiers were quickly rounded up and sent to Carriganima where Art was fatally shot on his horse by a soldier under Morris' direct order.
Art O Laoighre
Rugadh 1747 ar Rath Laoich cóngarach do Magh Chromtha. Oileadh sa bhFrainc agus d'imigh isteach sna Hussars in arm Marie Therese na
hOstaire. Bhain sé céim ard amach sarar fhill ar Éirinn. Thug sé an láir cháiliúil abhaile leis.
Phós sé Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill (aintín do Dhónall Ó Chonaill). Bhí tailte agus saibhreas aige agus chothaigh a chrógacht agus
a uaisleacht formad i measc na nGall máguaird - go háirithe Abraham Morris, an tArdshirriam.
Eibhlín Dubh( Ní Chonaill) Uí Laoghaire.
Born in Derrynane Co.Kerry 1743(?) daughter of Máire Ní Duibh and Dónall Mór Ó Conaill, Eibhlín Dubh was aunt to Daniel O'Connell, the
Liberator. Her mother, who was a keeper of old traditional ways, was a well known 'bean chaointe' in the area. She was also known to be a smuggler of
fish, butter, meats and wool to France in return for tea, sugar, tobacco, fine clothes and wines. Eibhín enjoyed a high standard of upbringing due to
this way of living. Eibhlín was a spirited young girl in her youth, which prompted her mother to marry her off to a much older man by the name of Connor of Iveragh (Na Foidhrí) in Kerry. Unfortunately, he died six months later and even though she was only fifteen or sixteen years of age, Eibhlín, in tune to the traditions of her upbringing, lamented his death in the traditional 'bean chaointe' fashion.
Years later, in 1767, Eibhlín, on a visit to her sister who was now married to James Baldwin, a landlord near Macroom, (Baldwin was an unusual
character in that during the Penal Laws he turned from Protestant to Catholic against the will of his people. He then lived in fear of losing his
rights to his land.) Eibhlín spotted Art through the window of the town hall in Macroom and fell instantly in love with him. A notice was seen in the newspaper 'Married Mr. Art O' Leary, Macroom, to the Widow Connor of Iveragh' (19th December 1767).Eibhlín married Art against the wishes of her parents who had heard of some of Art's exploits since his return from Europe. They thought that he would not be a suitable husband for Eibhlín.
Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill
Rugadh i nDoire Fhionáin timpeall na bliana 1743. B'iníon í do Mháire ní Duibh agus do Dhónall Mór Ó Conaill í (aintín do Dhónall an
"Fuascailteoir"). Bean chaointe cháiliúil ab ea a máthair agus mhaireadar cuid mhaith ar an smugaláil - tae, tobac, éadach breá agus fíonta.
Cailín anamúil ab ea Eibhlín ach posadh go hóg í le seanduine de Chonchúraigh Uíbh Ráthaigh. D'éag seisean sé mhí 'na dhiaidh san.
Is sa bhliain 1767 agus í ar cuaird go dtí á driofúr i dTuath na Dromann a fuair sí radharc ar Art don chéad uair - chonaic sí é ar mhargadh Magh
Chromtha. Phós sí é 19 Nollaig 1767 in ainneoin a muintire.
Part One - (Summer 1773) Voice: Eibhlín
Composed: In Carriganima and/or Raleigh House during the wake.*
In the opening section of the lament, Eibhlín portrays her personal and private memories of Art Ó Laoghaire: where and how she met him; how he looked and the comfortable lifestyle he provided for her - a lifestyle she was accustomed to in Derrynane. She also tells of how she realised he was in fatal trouble when his blood-soaked horse returned to her. She recounts the horrific horse-ride she endured to find him dead and alone beside a furze bush in Carriganima, Co. Cork. She then expresses her personal loss and the loss he will be to her two sons Conchubhar and Fear. She dreams of bringing him home to his warm bed, to bring the heat of life back into him.
*Art Ó Laoghaire was waked in Carriganima on the night of his death and was moved home to Raleigh House the following day where the wake continued. It is said that Eibhlín composed most of the caoineadh over Art's body on the night of his death.
Cuid 1 - Guth Eibhlín
Cumadh i gCarraig an Ime agus sa tigh i Rath Laoi.
Tosnaíonn Eibhlín an Caoineadh le cuimhní pearsanta ar Art agus ar an saol a bhí aici ina theannta. Thuig sí gur scéal tubaisteach a bhí aici nuair a
fhill an láir ar Ráth Laoich in éagmais Airt agus rian na fola uirthi. Cuireann sí síos ar an dturas uathásach thar n-ais go corp a grá ghil ar
Carraig an Ime. Luann sí an bhuairt atá uirthi féin ina dhiaidh agus gur fágadh a mbeirt chlainne gan athair. Is mian léi an compord a thug Art di a chúiteamh anois leis agus cóir cheart agus leaba chluthar ina thigh féin a thabhairt do in inead na hinse fliche ina bhfuil sé caite.
(i) Verbal Duel between Eibhlín Dubh and Art's sister.
(ii) Monologue by Art's father.
Composed : the night of the wake.
Here we hear Eibhlín and Art's sister trying to better each other in front of Art's father. A change of key, tone and tempo denotes the arrival of
Art's sister from Cork. She rebukes Eibhlín for having left Art's body alone downstairs while she slept upstairs on the night of his wake. Eibhlín
immediately retorts, explaining that the children were very upset. They had been running around the house in search of their father and the only way she
could settle them was to go to bed+ with them. She steadfastly defends her love for him; had she not married him and borne his children? Had she not
stood by him against all the odds, during the four frenetic years of their marriage?
Art's father then speaks the next section. He expresses his great love for his son and curses Abraham Morris who he believes is responsible for the
death of his beloved son, Art. Upon hearing this expression of love by a father for his son, Eibhlín vows
that she would gladly have taken the bullet for him if it had been in her power to do so. Upon hearing this wish expressed, Art's sister amplifies Eibhlín's
statement, by saying that she, also, would have willingly sacrificed her life for her brother.
Tagann driofúr Airt ó Chorcaigh larnamháireach agus tosnaíonn sí féin agus Eibhlín ag iomaíocht os comhair athair Airt. Tá an driofúr ag
gearán i dtaobh Eibhlín a bheith sa leabaidh agus deir Eibhlín gur ghá san chun na leanaí a chur a chodladh. Nárbh í máthair na leanaí í?
Labhrann athair Airt agus cuireann eascainí ar Mhorris, an fear a chreideann sé ba chúis le dúnmharú Airt. Deir Eibhlín go mb'fhearr léi an piléar a dhul ina croí féin. Deir a driofúr go ndéanfadh sí sin féin an íobairt chéanna.
Part Three - Voice: Eibhlín Dubh
Composed: In the early hours of the morning of the wake.
Here, Eibhlín reveals her grief and anguish at the death of her husband. She remembers his last visit with them on 4th May 1773 where he instructed her
to take care of the house and farm, as he might not return. She thought he was saying this in jest as he often did so in the past. However, now she
knows that it was indeed the truth. He was leaving that morning to 'settle the score' with Abraham Morris.
Eibhlín wishes him alive again to continue their wonderful life together.(first soloist)
She lists the important people of her life e.g. sister, father, brother; these and her children are most significant but are no real consolation to
Eibhlín Dubh as Art is now gone. (second soloist)
She traces his ancestry and describes some of the places associated with him, believing him to be invincible. Alas she was wrong!( tutti)
Cuid 3 - Guth Eibhlín
Labhrann Eibhlín ar a briseadh croí. Tagraíonn sí don chuaird dheireanach an 4ú Bealtaine 1773 nuair ar iarr sé uirthi aire a thabhbairt don tigh agus don fheirm mar go mb'fhéidir ná fillfeadh sé féin. Shíl sí gur ag magadh a bhí sé ach tuigeann anois fírinne an scéil.
Meabhraíonn sí anois conas a bheadh an saol dá mbeadh sé 'na bheathaidh (canta ag guth aonair)
Is beag léi na daoine móra a bhaineann léi agus an chrích a rug iad.
(An dara Guth Solo)
Cuireann sí síos ar shinsear Airt.
Part Four - Voice: Art's Sister
Eibhlín Dubh's answer to Art's Sister.
Composed: During the night of the wake.
Art's sister is heard here (quartet), elaborating on what we have already heard from Eibhlín Dubh i.e. the praising of Art's home, his high standard
of living, his fine sense of dress, what a dashing man he was and how other women admired him. She apologises for not bringing more of her people from Cork to the wake. Due to a fever (smallpox), many of them had died or were too ill to travel.
She praises the generosity of Art's household and the fine hospitality to be found there. She foretells his death in a dream sequence she had had in Cork
the previous night.(tutti)
Eibhlín cuts in here. Echoing the opening melody and key of the lament, Eibhlín admonishes Art's sister by telling her that she was fully aware that
Art had many admirers. She cries out to Jesus Christ and vows revenge on the one who took Art from her -"bodach na fola duibhe" (Abraham Morris).
Cuid 4 - Guth Eibhlín
Freagraíonn driofúr Airt ag moladh thigh Airt agus a chomhluadair. Gabhann sí leathscéal as a dhéanaí a tháinig sí de dheascaibh fiabhras agus
galair eile a bheith i gcathair Chorcaí mar a raibh cónaí uirthi. Treasaíonn Eibhlín uirthi agus deir sí gur mó san bean a chuir dúil ina
céile breá féin. Bagraíonn sí dlí agus dioltas ar "bhodach na fola duibhe" - Morris.
Part 5 (Autumn 1773) - Voice:Eibhlín Dubh
Composed: + during the second burial in Kilcrea Abbey *
She now praises the women of Carriganima who have now come to support her in her grief. Previously, she had rebuked them for not keening Art, on the
night of his wake (previous May).
She curses the treacherous Seán mac Uaithne who informed upon Art and was, therefore, an accessory to his death.
Eibhlín goes on to say that she knows it was her ineffectual brother-in-law, James Baldwin, who had ultimately betrayed her - he had needlessly
surrendered the horse (??) to Morris after Art's death.
She mourns the fact that none of her own family came from Derrynane to comfort her or to keen for Art when he died in May. Sadly, none are present
even now as he is being placed in the tomb in Kilcrea.
Eibhlín knows that the seasons pass. The work on the land must continue. However the life/light in Eibhlín has been choked, snuffed out since the
death of Art, her true love.
Before Art is placed in the tomb in Kilcrea, Eibhlín invites the women to raise a glass in the name of Art Ó Laoghaire. Her passion is now spent, as
is the passion of her valiant and beloved husband Art - now 'ag iompar cré agus cloch' (bearing clay and stones).
*Art was initially buried outside Kilnamartyra cemetery. +Morris would not allow Art to be buried inside the cemetery grounds even though he was a
Catholic - another slur against Art's name. Having been granted permission to bury Art on Catholic grounds six months later, Eibhlín had his body
exhumed and re-interred at Kilcrea.
Cuid 5 - Guth Eibhlín
Cumadh le linn Airt don chorp a bheith á athchur i gCill Chré (6 mhí i ndiaidh a bháis)
Gabhann sí pardún le mná Charraig an Ime i dtaobh a bheith chomh dian orthu roimis sin. Cuireann sí in úil gur thug céile a driféar a
capall Airt ar láimh do lucht na dlí. Goilleann sí uirthi nár tháinig éinne dá muintir féin aniar ó Dhoire Fhionáin.
Cé go leanann an saol ar aghaidh deir Eibhlín go bhfuil a saol féin múchta le bás Airt. Ordaíonn sí do sna mnáibh an caoineadh do chuir uathu anois agus deoch d'ól ar Art roim é chur sa Chill.