Sustaining community heritage: the case for political action.
Riocht na Midhe, 12.
The following is the gist of an oral presentation made to the Joint Dail-Senad Committee on Heritage and the Irish Language, Leinster House, 2 November 1999, at the invitation of the Committee. The presentation was made on behalf of The O'Carolan Harp and Cultural Festival, Nobber, The Meath Harp School and Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. The proceedings were televised on TG4.
Traditional arts are the result of consensus in a community. Song, music, dance, verse and folklore express the personality and identity of a community over time. Song and verse - for instance the great folk songs"Donall Og" and "An Droighnean Donn" - give the permanence of art to the intimate experiences of the people. People's memories and emotions, their joys and sorrows, are caught in the sensuous sound-web of this richly verbal art and made resonant in the imagination. Snatched from the encroaching darkness of oblivion, their joys and sorrows live in the illumination of the poet's song, and serve to light the way on the uncertain journey from yesterday to tomorrow. The community knows itself and reflects upon itself through art-lamenting its losses or celebrating notable feats or accomplishments. This is particcccularly true of an oral culture. I think for instance, of a song in the aisling or vision mode or tradition, "Ur-Chill an Chreagain", from my own part of the country, which was known as the national anthem of south Ulster, so frequently was it sung.
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