Participatory music in the Irish Gaeltacht

Éamonn Costello

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Abstract

The dramatic modernisation that An Cheathrú Rua (Carraroe) in the Conamara Gaeltacht1 has experienced from the mid-twentieth century onwards, has brought about a state of technologically-induced social isolation2 amongst the local population. This feeling of social isolation is mirrored by the loudness of Conamara Country and Western (CC&W) performances, which inhibit verbal communication and therefore community bonding. In the past in Carraroe, the performance of sean-nós3 and Irish traditional music was a fully participatory, and a highly intimate event. As such, it helped to reinforce the community bonds essential for sustaining the area’s economy which, up until the early 1960s, was a co-operative labour system. The introduction of industry to Carraroe brought an end to this system, and, by extension, sean-nós lost its function in the community. To compound matters, due to the influence of Romantic nationalism, sean-nós is widely seen as an index of an idealised primitive Gaeltacht, which bears little resemblance to contemporary Gaeltacht life. CC&W music sung in Irish/Gaelic4 has become the dominant music genre of the area, partly because the cosmopolitan nature of CC&W subverts the primitive image of the Gaeltacht fostered by Romantic revivalists. Since Carraroe is one of Conamara’s major socialising hubs, it is, in my opinion, a synecdoche for the Conamara Gaeltacht.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationÓn gCos go Cluas
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Dancing to Listening
EditorsLiz Doherty, Fintan Vallely
PublisherAberdeen University Press
Chapter5
Pages38-47
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-85752-073-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference - Northern Ireland, Derry/Londonderry, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 20121 Jul 2012

Publication series

NameFiddle and Dance Studies from around the North Atlantic 5

Conference

ConferenceNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityDerry/Londonderry
Period27/06/121/07/12

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  • Cite this

    Costello , É. (2019). Participatory music in the Irish Gaeltacht. In L. Doherty, & F. Vallely (Eds.), Ón gCos go Cluas: From Dancing to Listening (pp. 38-47). (Fiddle and Dance Studies from around the North Atlantic 5). Aberdeen University Press.