See Us – Iochdar and Gerinish Singing Choir

Iochdar and Gerinish Singing Choir visit to Gweedore, Donegal, Ireland

Friday 21 November 2014

In the evening we telephoned Dónall Mac Ruairí, a radio presenter with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, about singing at Tábhairne Leo (or Leo’s bar).  After we arrived at the bar we were told that we might not feature due to delays to the running order but were eventually asked to sing just before the final and main act The Jeremiahs, a Dublin based fiddle band.  We sang ‘E ho ro tha mi ’n dùil ri bhith tilleadh’ and got a great reception from the crowd.  Prior to singing Peggy had introduced the choir and spoke about the Ceòlas summer school and concerts.  There was one or two we met who claimed to have connections with South Uist and we left a few Gaoth an Iar CDs behind the bar in case they wanted a copy.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

On Saturday morning we met with Michael Mac Aoidh who has a lead role with Ealain na Gaeltachta, a similar project to Pròiseact nan Ealan in the islands.  Michael was very obliging and was genuinely interested in our choir and Ceòlas.

He took us to the Donegal RTE Gaeltachct radio studios where we met a presenter called Paddy who gave us a tour of the studio building.  We left Paddy copies of the Gaoth an Iar CD and his colleague Damien Ó Dónaill played a track from the CD in his show Cas Ceirnín and gave a CD away as a prize.  Paddy said that if he knew we were coming he would have interviewed us and got us to sing live for his show.

Afterwards, Michael took us to An tSeanBheairic, a visitor centre in Falcarragh.  The visitor centre has a café, museum, display and shop and organises various historical, music and arts based projects.

Michael was keen to explore links between his work and that being done in Uist by Ceòlas.  We went on to discuss some of the projects that Ceòlas were involved with such as the summer school, the symposiums and EOST and passed him Mary Schmollers and the Ceòlas offices contact details.

Michaels contact details are e-mail m.macaoidh@udaras.ie and telephone 353 87 2863693.  He would be very happy to hear from Ceòlas and mentioned that when he was younger he managed to make it as far as Barra but didn’t make it over to South Uist.  He invited us to the An Gailearaí in the evening for an art and culture exhibition.

That afternoon we visited Glenveagh national park and were taken on a tour of the striking Glenveagh Castle.

Later on we went to the An Gailearaí and met with Michael and also Ronan, a radio presenter with RTE Gaeltachta, and PJ O Curran and Kathleen of An Chrannóg.  Ronan hosts one of the most popular Gaelic shows in Ireland and has a fair grasp of Scottish Gaelic.  An Chrannóg are an organisation that encourages young people into singing and music.  PJ explained that over the last few years An Chrannóg had significantly increased the number of children and adults involved with music.  For example, concertina playing was almost completely non existent in Donegal five years ago but there are now at least 40 youngsters playing it in the Gaoth Dobhair area.  An Chrannóg regularly attend a music festival in Fort William and were very interested in the Ceòlas summer school.

The An Gailearaí itself had a range of impressive exhibits from local artists.  We were invited to sing at the exhibition and, again, we sang ‘E ho ro tha mi ’n dùil ri bhith tilleadh’ which got a good reception from the visitors and artists.

Below is a Youtube link to a smartphone recording of the choir singing at An Gailearaí courtesy of the EalainNa Gaeltachta youtube channel which was no doubt put online by Michael:

From there we went to the Hiúdaí Beag bar and were again invited to sing with the choir singing ‘Teann A-nall’.  Despite singing a little off key at the start we were giving a loud round of applause afterward and asked for an encore and Mary Flora and Margaret duly obliged singing ‘Cearcall a’ Chuain’.  We were also shown how to drink Guinness properly and found out why it’s slightly dangerous if not allowed to settle and then drunk in big gulps. We might need a little more practise to get the hang of it.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

On Sunday we attended mass at Teach Pobail Mhuire (St Mary’s) Church in Derrybeg at 11am.  It was quite striking that the mass, hymns and newsletters were all in Irish Gaelic.

We then travelled to Letterkenny for the afternoon before returning to Gweedore to meet with Mairi Britton who gave us an informal tour of Ionad Naomh Pádraig.  The Ionad is made up of a building with a gymnasium, computer room, music/dance studio and several other rooms and also a well maintained and artistically laid out garden.

The facility is used for a number of community orientated projects such as Irish classes, art, creel making, step dancing tuition, music tuition, recording studio, cultural activities, café, computer room facility, second hand clothes shop, tai chi, yoga, spin classes, nursery and gymnasium use to name but a few.

To summarise, we all had a great time in Donegal and would like to thank Mary and Ceòlas for giving us the opportunity to go.  We’d love to go back once we’ve added a few more songs to our repertoire.