Cór Chúil Aodha


Aifreann 10.00 a.m. Seipeal Cúil Aodha gach Domhnach.
10.00 a.m. mass in Cúil Aodha church every Sunday.


(Leagan Gaeilge faoi'n béarla)

Cór Cúil Aodha was founded in 1963. When Seán Ó Riada was living in the West Kerry gaeltacht of Corca Duibhneach during 1962 he became very friendly with an t-Athair Donnachadha Ó Concubhair who, at that time, was curate to the Cork gaeltacht parish of Baile Mhuirne. When Seán took up his new position as music lecturer in University College Cork he moved his household to live in Cúil Aodha which was in the parish of Baile Mhuirne. This move was a homecoming as his mother was born and reared in the neighboring parish of Cill na Martra and indeed her maternal antecedents came from Cúil  Aodha. Thus there were many relations and friends already living in the area. One of these friends of course was Donnachadha.  About this time also, the second Vatican Council’s deliberations were being discussed and disseminated.  Donnachadha and Seán had a habit of spending the evening in convivial conversation in An Draighean – the O Riada home. There was much interest in the stories coming north from Rome. Another topic under regular inspection was that of the traditional prayers of the area, local spirituality and liturgical music of the time. I had never seen my father as a prayerful person and indeed it was my mother who would ensure our observance of our Irish Catholic Creed.   My mother’s mother was an Italian Huguenot and practiced a more private form of observance. But when my father became interested in this facet of life he soon formed the Cúil Aodha Choir.

Women had provided the singing in the local church hitherto fore. Their music could be heard at occasions such as benediction but Seán and Donnachadha rapidly put an end to their tenure and decreed that the choir would be made up of men and boys.

The members of this choir would meet weekly in An Draighean and started out with traditional hymns for use at communion time.  These included such songs as “Mo Ghrádhasa mo Dhia” and “Gile mo Chroí”.

I was a nine-year-old boy at the time and we would all collect around my father and the harmonium up in the gallery for Mass.   My father attended Mass every Sunday from then on.

Having sorted out a repertoire for the communion time the Offertory was the next item.    My father and Donnachadha choose s poem called Ag Críost an Síol” and,  as was Seán’s custom, he composed new music to set to the text. Another traditional religious poem followed for communion use.  This was  “A Rí an Domhnaigh”.   Seán and Donnachadha then chose to traditional verses recounted to them, by our neighbor Tadhg O Muláin that then became the Introit and Exeunt.   Tadhg was married to Betty Horgan and both of them, but Betty in particular, filled many pages for folklore collectors in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Now that all the usual “bits” of the Mass had been looked after musically,  Seán agus Donnachadha decided that “An Phaidir” or Pater Noster, should be the next musical piece.  This was now to be said in the vernacular language rather then the retreating Latin language in use.   I remember a particular argument going on as to the Irish language version of the Pater Noster to be used.    In Cúil Aodha we always said “Agus maith dhúinn ár bhfiacha, mar mhaithimíd do chách ‘chionntaíon ‘nár n’aghaidh” but official church translators from Maynooth decreed that this should be “Agus maith dhúinn ár bhfiacha mra mhaithimíde dár bhfeichiúna féin.”   As we all now know my father had to row in with the modern version or the words.  The music was composed.   Of course Latin hymns were also being sung as usual.   Verses such as the Pange Lingua, “Tantum Ergo”,  “ O Salutares” and so on.

Having dealt with the Pater Noster or Ár n’Athair the Kyria or “A Thiarna dean Trócaire” came next, followed by the Gloria or “An Ghlóir”.   When music had been set to the Agnus Dei or “A Uan Dé”  the mass as sung in Cúil Aodha had arrived.

Even though this mass was sung every Sunday in Cúil Aodha, it was not heard in Maynooth until 1967.   An t-Athair Tomás Ó Fiach (History professor at the time and another friend of Seán’s) read that Mass and he also sang the priests lines which was a first also as Donnachadha would never admit to having any note of music in his head and it was us young bots who sang the Kyria, and such, in Cúil Aodha.

I remember the occasion to be a happy exciting experience for all.   The organ console was actually in the body of the Maynooth church while all the pipes were high up in the gallery.   One member of the choir succeeded in sleeping through the whole affair, stretched out on top of the console, while my father played and we stood gathered around singing.   When mass was ended, Tomás disrobed and danced down the aisle with a big bottle of Paddy Whiskey to celebrate the occasion.  Young and foolish though I was I still was very aware that something great had been accomplished and celebrated.   The Mass was once again being sung in the people’s vernacular and our own language, the Irish language, was to the fore again.

The Cúil Aodha Mass was recorded two years later.   This time the occasion was in Dublin’s Dominican Priory in Tallaght.  Again Tomás Ó Fiach was the celebrant – with assistance.   I remember that some ruffled feathers were around as the Dominican Choir had been diligently practicing the music but they appeared not to have been informed that we would also be singing.    The fact that Tomás was determined to sing the celebrants lines was also a bit of a shock to them.   They had spent a lot of time rehearsing and had picked their own soloists and we blithely rained all over their parade.    However they trumped us as Seán had set music to the short prayers and answers leading into the “Prefáid” and we had never heard this.   Neither had Tomás.  So you can hear them singing these lines on their own in this recording.    If I remember correctly, I believe their soloist was a Kerry man from Uibh Ráthach.   They were nice gentle people and I am glad that they can be heard on this recording.

My father wore sunglasses, in the church, during the whole affair and my mother was not amused by this action.   Roibeard Mac Goráin from Gael Linn was also present.  Roibeard was another friend of my father and mother Ruth.   They had met while attending University College Cork.    Roibeard was party to many of my father’s public appearances during his life.  Gael Linn’s record Department was Roibeard’s ‘baby’ and he brought many good musicians and singers to the publics ears, both here in Ireland and around the world.

Seán and Donnachadha continued adding to the Choirs repertoire.   I mention in particular the services of Good Friday.    We started to use that traditional song “Caoineadh na dTrí Muire”.   The boys would sing the first questioning line of each verse and Diarmuid Ó Riordáin would sing the solo response line while the men kept ochochóning and olagóning away.

Seán choose “Éistíg Liomsa Sealad” as a suitable funeral song or hymn. Séamuis Uí Mhuimhneacháin and Peaití Thadhg Pheig were the first ‘beneficiaries’ of this musical offering, their funerals taking place in ‘69/1970.   I then played it for Seán’s own funeral in October 1971.   I was sixteen years old at the time as I took up my station.

Some years prior to this event, Seán had formed a friendship with the monks of Glenstall in County Limerick, in particular a Dom Paul MacDonald.    In 1970 this community asked Seán to compose a mass for their use. This would have a different requirement to the Cúil Aodha Mass.   The first mass was composed so that a congregation could sing it together.   Its lines are simple and easily remembered.  They are also suitable for a large crowed to sing together and stay together while doing so.    In the case of the Benedictine community their mass would have to be more challenging and did not have to be constrained by large numbers singing it.   This was to be sung daily and by a very good choir.   They would need music of a more challenging nature to keep them stimulated as well.   Thus was the Second Mass born or composed.   Sean asked several members of his band ceoltóirí Chualainne to join him on the occasion of its first singing.

When Seán died on the 3rd of October 1971 there was only a tape recording of the event to be found. And Dom Paul gave this to Tomás Ó Canainn who with Eibhlís Crannitch, transcribed the Mass.    Some time later Gael Linn asked them to record the work but in spite of quite a bit of work it never came to fruition.

I never was given a copy of the tape but asked Tomás for a copy of the transcription and this is what I used when teaching it to Cór Chúil Aodha.  We recorded it in 1976 and this is the recording you hear on this cd.    The Psalm is composed by Tomás and I have left it with the recording as I think it deserves its place.  Seán never composed music for any of the Psalms that I can remember and this has proven quite a fertile ground for my own endeavors but than, this is the subject of other recordings.

Paudí Ó Lionáird is the young boy singing the Kryia etc while his brother Iarla sings Tomás’s version of the Pslam “Maoifead thú a Thiarna”.    One of the most frequently used pieces by the choir over the last 40 years is the Introit - the text of which is Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.  … “Críost Liom, Críost Romham,..” etc

The Choir rehearses every Monday evening in An Draighean and sings every Sunday at 10:00 Mass in Cúil Aodha - if they are not traveling.   Shortly after their formation Seán also arranged them into a claisceadal or group-singing of traditional songs.   The choir performs consorts of this secular music as well as their liturgical singing. Over the years they have found themselves bridging the spiritual divide to the afterlife at many emotional funerals.  I think of our friends such as an t-Uachtarán Cearabhal Ó Dálaigh, and musicians such as Willy Clancy, Denis Murphy agus Frankie Kennedy and Johnny Leary but it would be fair to say that it is at the parting ceremonies of one of their own members that the full choir assembles and can be heard at their most powerful and moving voice.   Here I think of occasions such as Sean Ó Riada’s funeral and those of the younger members such as Diarmuid Ó Suilleabháin or even the teenager Micheal Ó Lionáird.   But as life goes on many members have passed over and even as they do, younger members grow up, marry and in turn bring their own sons once they are two or three years old.   I find that there is usually a hiatus in attendance when a youth moves to third level or apprenticeship stage of their life.  More often then not, they return in there twenties, particularly when they themselves ‘settle down’

I have been in charge of the choir since the first Sunday in September 1971.  My father was ill and after spending two weeks in the Bons Secours hospital in Cork, he instructed me to sit up to the harmonium the following Sunday.   I had very little keyboard experience and he explained to me that if I counted up 26 keys from the left or bottom of the keyboard I would find the note to start “A Ri an Domhnaigh”.  I went home and took three colored pens to the Church that evening to count and mark the starting notes for the Sunday mass the following morning and so I took up my duties. He died three weeks later and I had progressed enough with the assistance of the choir members so that we were able to sing proper homage to Seán for his own funeral and I am still pedaling away since.

We keep adding to our repertoire with newly composed material for the most part. Dónal Ó Liatháin was the main scribe and poet. We use texts from older local poets or for specific situations.   Obviously the bible and New Testament also regularly provide texts. So far I have been in charge of music composition. The repertoire is now quite large and broad running to many hours of material.  People wishing to contact the choir should write to Cathal Ó Riada, Cúil Aodha, Magh Cromtha, Co Chorcaighe.

Cór Cúil Aodha

Bunaíodh Cór Chúil Aodha sa bhliain 1963.   Nuair a bhí Seán Ó Riada ina chónaí i ngaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne i 1962 d’eirigh sé ana cháirdiúil leis an t-Athair Donnachadha Ó Concubhair a bhí mar shagart cúnnta i mBaile Mhuirne ag an am.   Nuair a’ dheigh Seán i mbun oibre i ’nOllscoil Chorcaighe, bhog sé chun cónaithe i gCúil Aodha.  Bo ghairid ón mball seo áitreabh a mháthar agus bhí gaollta agus cáirde leis ag maireachtaint sa cheantar.  Duine acu seo gan dabht ab ea an t-Athair Donnachadha.    Is tímpeall an ama seo , chomh maith, a bhí torthaí Comhairle Bhaiticeánach a Dó ag teacht chun soilis agus bhíodh Donnachadha ag scoraicht sa Draighean (tigh Sheáin) ‘sna tráthnóintí go riallta.   Bhíodh pléadh ar na scéalta seo aneas ón Róimh.    Bhíodh pléadh eile ar siubhal i dtaobh na paidreacha dúchais sa cheantar agus áit an cheoil i litúirge na ndaoine.

Ní fhacasa m’athair mar dhuine cráifeach riamh roimis sin agus go deimhin is í mo mháthair a thugadh chun Aifrinn sinn.   Hugenoet ón Iodáil ab ea a máthair siúd agus do togadh í i dtraidisiún na paidireorachta príomháidigh.   Ach nuair a chuir m'athair an suim sna nithe seo bo ghairid an mhaoill gur bhunaigh sé Cór Chúil Aodha.   Bhíodh mnáibh ag amhránaíocht san séipéal roimis sin.  Ócáidí ar nós beathnacht don Naomh Shacraimint is mó a chuirfeadh chun ceoil iad.   Ach chuir Seán agus Donnachadah deireadh, gan taise, len’ a réim agus ní raibh le bheith sa Chór nua seo ach fir nó buachailí amháin.    Bhailíach na baill sa Draighean agus bo ghairid go raibh dánnta diaga ar nós “Mo Ghrádhasa mo Dhia” agus “Gile mo Chroí” dá channadh acu aimsir chomaoineach.    Bhíosa mar gharsún sa Chór agus bhímís go léir bailithe tímpeal m’athair agus an harmonium san Ailéir le linn  aifrinn.   Bhíodh m’athair ag aifreann gach Domhnach anois.    Tar éis aire do thabhairt don Comaoineach do tugadh faoi Iomann don Ófráil agus ansan ‘sea chuir m’athair ceol leis an phaidir sin “Ag Críost an Síol”.    Leann dán diaga eile don Comaoine “A Rí an Domhnaigh” agus ansan roghnaigh Seán agus Donnachadha dhá phaidir traidisiúnta a  bhí ag Tadhg Ó Muláin chun tosach agus deireadh do chuir leis an Aifreann.    Comharsa do b’ea Tadhg le Seán agus bhí saibhreas agus stór mór seanachais aige – ina ‘measc bhí ann chuid paidreacha.   Anois go raibh an Introit agus Exeunt cúmtha bheartaigh Seán agus Donnachadha gurb é “An Phaidir” nó an “Ár n’Athair” an céad píosa eile go bhféadfaí tabhairt faoi.   Bhí sé seo le bheith ráite i dteanga an phobail anois ar aon chumadh agus teanga na Laidine ag cúlú as clos na ndaoineadh.

Ar ndeodhain bhí amhráin chráifeacha laidine dá gcanadh ag an gCór faoin dtráth seo chomh maith.  Dánnta ar nós an “Pange Lingua”, “Tantum Ergo”,  “O Salutares” agus mar sin de.

Pé scéal é do chuir Seán ceol leis an Phaidir agus do lean ceol don Kyria nó “A Thiarna Déan Trócaire” agus “An Ghlóir”.    Nuair a bhí ceol leis an Agnus Dei nó “A Uain Dé” bhí ceol le gach píosa oiriúnach den Aifreann agus bhí “Ceol an Aifrinn mar a canntar i gCúil Aodha” tagaithe ar an saoghal.

Cé go mbíodh sé dá chanadh gach Domhnach i gCúíl Aodha níor canadh i Magh Nuadht é go dtí an bhliain 1967.  Dob’ é an t-Athair Tomás Ó Fiach (Ollamh Staire i Magh Nuadht ag an am agus cara eile de chuid Sheáin) do léigh an Aifreann úd agus do chan sé páirt an tsagairt don gcéad uair oir níor ghéill an t-Athair Donnachadha go raibh guth cannta aige riamh agus dob iad na buachaillí óga sa Chór do chanadh leithéidí an “A Thiarna dean Trócaire”.

Is cuimhin liom an gliondar a bhain leis an ócáid.   Bhí an console den orgán i mbolg an tSéipéil an uair sin cé gur árd thuas oscionn an áiléir a bhí na píobáin.  Is cuimhin liom gur chodail ball amháin den gCór ináirde ar chofra seo na méarchláir faid a bhí m-athair ag seinnt agus sinne bailithe tímpeall orthu ag canadh.   Nuair a bhí an t-Aifreann thart agus a chuid éadaigh bheannaithe caite dhe aige is cuimhin liom go dtáinig an t-Athair Tomás ag rinnce síos an tséipéil agus buidéal mór fuiscí ‘Phaddy” ina bhachalainn aige.  Cé nách ró chiallmhar a bhíos féin an uair úd do thuigeas fós gur ócáid mhór ceiliúradh agus gliondar a bhí tar éis titim amach.

Dhá bhliain níos a dhéanaí is ea taifeadadh an Aifreann a hAon seo.    Thárlaigh sé seo i Séipéal na nDominiceánach i dTallacht Bhaile Átha Cliath.    Arís b’é Tomás Ó Fiach a cheiliuraigh an Aifreann agus cúnamh aige.   Ach is cuimhin liom aighneas bheag chomh maith.  Bo léir nár insigh m’athair do Chór na nDominiceánach go raibh Cór Chúil Aodha ag tógaint an sway óna gCór mannach féinig.     Bhí cúpla píosa breise cúmtha aige chomh maith a bhí i leabharán na nDominiceánach nách raibh ag an Cór Chúíl Aodha.   Nílim ró chinnte ach chomh beag an raibh sé soiléir roim ré gurb é cara Sheáin – Tomás, a bheadh ag léamh an Aifrinn.   Is cuimhin liom go raibh neomataí teasaí idir shagairt agus córacha díreach roim tosach an Aifrinn.    Bhí Tomás deimhnitheach go raibh seiseann ag canadh an “A Thiarna dean Trócaire”  ach má bhí bhí Dominiceánach bocht tar éis bheith ag cleachtadh an ceol céanna le díógras ag ullamhú don ócáid.   Chann Tomás agus is é atá sa taifead.  Ach má éisteann sibh leis na taifid tabharfaigh sibh faoi ndearadh gur guth eile – guth Dominiceánach (Ciarraíoch ó Uibh Ráthach más buan mo chuimhne) a chann an cúpla line nua chumtha agus gurb iad an Cór Dominiceánch d’fhreagair iad mar nách raibh na linnte seo ar eolas ag Cór Chúíl Aodha.

Chaith m’athair pheireadh spéaclaí gréinne i rith an Aifrinn ar fad in aindeoin gur dhein mo mháthair tréan iarracht iad do bhainnt de.   Bhí Roibeárd Mac Gabharáin ann ag coimead súil ar an dtaifead thar cheann Ghael Linn.   Cara eile de chuid Sheáin agus  Ruth (mo mháthair) ab ea Roibeárd.   Bhí aithinne acu ar a chéile ó blainnta Ollscoile i dteannta a chéile i gCorcaigh.   Bhí Roibeárd páirteach i mór chuid de shaoghal phoiblí m’athair agus bhí san fíor ar an ócáid seo chomh maith.  B’é Roibeárd a thug Roinn Céirnín Ghael Linn ar an saoghal agus a chothaigh agus a d’fhorbraigh é chun foirfeachta idirnáisiúnta.

Do leann Seán agus Donnachadha ag cuir le repetoir na Córach ach go háirithe d’ócáidí ar nós searmanaisí Aoine an Chéasta.   Is do sin a thosnaíomar ag canadh “Caoineadh na dTrí Muire”.  Bhíodh an chéad línne de gach bhéarsa ag na buachailí óga agus d’fhreagraíodh Diarmuid Ó Riordáin iad.    Chanadh an Cór na h-Ochochóin go léir idir eatartha.

Thárlaigh an rud chéanna nuair a roghnaigh Seán “Éistíg Liomsa Sealad” mar amhrán oiriúnach le canadh ag sochraidí.    Dob ag sochraid Shéamuis Uí Mhuimhneacháin agus ansan sochraid Pheaití Thadhg Pheig a céad canadh an amhrán seo i séipéal Chúíl Aodha.   Do canadh don tríú uair é ag sochraid Sheáin féin agus mise tosnaithe i mbun mo dhiutaé.  Bhíos sé mbliana déag d’aois an uair sin i bhFomhar na blaina 1971.

Ach cúpla bliain roimis sin bhí Seán tar éis eiriú cáirdiúil le Mannaigh Mhainistior Ghleann Staille i gCo Luimnighe – ach go h-áirithe leis an Athair Dom Paul Mac Domhnail.   Ar chuireadh ón bpobal sin do chum Seán an dara Aifreann sa bhliain 1970.   Aifreann a bheadh dá channadh gach lá a bhí I gceist le seo seachas Aifreann 1 a bheadh in’úsáid gach Domhnach.    Mar sin tá curam éagsúil ag an ceol seo.   Tá sé níos a’ dhiocaire mar structúr ceoil agus le foghluim.    Tá níos mó scóip chun rithime agus luas agus chun spas do chuir ar fail chun macnaimh is paidireoireachta faoi mar a bhíonn  ag pobal bheag dlúth spioradálta an mhainistir I gcomparáid le pobal mhór oscailte an Pharóiste tuaithe.   Do chuir Seán ceoltóirí ag seinnt tionnlacan ar ócáid a chéad cannta chomh maith.

Nuair a fuair Seán bás i Mí Deire Fomhair 1971 ní raibh ar fail den ócáid seo ach taifead ag thug Dom Paul do Thomás Ó Cannainn cúpla bliain níos déanaí le scríobh amach mar scór ceoil.  Fuair seiseann cúnamh ó Eibhlís Crannitch agus do chum Tomás an Sailm atá leis an Aifreann seo chomh maith óir níor chum Seán féin aon tSailm.    Dhein an buíon seo iarracht aar thaifead do dhéanamh do Ghael Linn ansan ach bhí diocrachtaí leis.   Is mé féin a thug faoi le Cór Chúil Aodha i 1976 ansan agus seo í an taifead atá ar fail ansa.    B’é Páidí Ó Lionáird an buachail óg a chann an ‘A Thiarna dean Trócaire” agus a dhriotháir Iarla a chan an Sailm “Maoífead Thú a Thiarna” le Tomás Ó Cannainn.

Tá an Cór fós ag feidhmiú igcónaí agus buaileann said le chéile, sa Draighean, chun cleachta gach oiche Dé Luain.    Bíonn said ag canadh an Aifrinn gach Domhach i gCúil Aodha agus bíd ag déanamh coirnmeacha ceoil go riallta sa tír seo agus thaar lear.   Táid tar éis canadh ag i gach Eaglas mór sa tír agus bhí sé d’onór acu mórán daoine uaisle do sheoladh go ceolmhar chun saoghal siorraíochta ar ócáidí a sochraidí.    Imeasc a gcuid laochra bhí a leithéidí a an Uachtarán Cearabhal Ó Dálaigh,   Ceoltóirí a leithéidí Willy Clancy, Denis Murphy agus Frankie Kennedy is Johnny Leary ach is ag sochraidí a gcomhleacaithe féinig is mó go dtagann an Cór uile le chéile – Sochradí ar nós Seán Ó Riada féinig, Diarmuidín Ó Suilleabháin, Diarmuid Ó Riordáin,  agus mórán eile nách iad idir aosta agus óg ar nós Mícheál Óg Ó Lionáird.

Tá sé de nós ag na fir a gclann mac do bhreith leo isteach sa Chór nuair a bhíd trí nó a cedathar de bhliannaibh d’aois agus fásan na garsúin seo suas ina bhfearraibh thar na blianntaibh.  Fágaid ar feadh tamaill sna déaganaibh déanacha agus iad ag freastail scoile nó ag foghluim céird ach fillean a bhfur mhór acu.    Bíonn amhráin nua dá bhfoghluim I gcónaí agus cé burb é Dónal Ó Liatháin an príomh fhile a shoalraíonn téacsanna, úsáidtear píosaí le sean fhillí eile agus, ar uairibh fiú, cuireann na leads bhéarsaí le chéile ag na cleachtaíocha cór.

Táimse i bhfeidhil an Cór ón céad Domhnach de Mheann Fhomhair 1971.    Is amhlaigh a buaileadh m’athair breoite agus tar éis do dhá sheachtain do chaitheamh in Óspidéal an Bhons i gCorcaigh dubhairt sé liom go gcaithfinn tabhairt faoi.   Ní raibh aon taithí agamsa ar an márchlár do sheinm agus dubhart sé liom na heochracha dubha agus bána do choraimh suas ón bun ar chlé go dtí an fichiú séú ceann.  É sin a bhrúgh agus pewdaláil in ainm an diabhail agus go mbeadh fhios ag na leads cad í an nóta le tosnú ar ansan don gcád píosa san Aifreann.    Chughas abhaile agus fuaireas trí marcar pinn agus chuireas marc difriúil ar na trí nótaí ‘Bmaol’, ‘F’, agus ‘E maol’.  D’oibrigh gach nídhe mar bo cheart.  Fuair m’athair bás trí seachtaine níos déanaí.  Bhíos sé mbliana déag d’aois agus sin mar ar thosnaíos mo chúrsa i bhfeidhil an loing ón shoin.   Is mise a chumann an ceol ó caileadh m’athair ach le cúnamh Dé bheidh príntiseach óg ann nuair a bheidh mo réadh-se imthe.    Tá clár fairsinn ceoil ag an gCór anois is cheol Eaglasta agus tuatha.   Is féidir teacht ar an gCór trí scríobh go Cathal Ó Riada, Cúil Aodha, Magh Cromtha, Co Chorcaighe.

Comments are closed.