This is a story of the survival of precious books and manuscripts protected by Irish Franciscans through wars and migration since the seventeenth century. It is the story of preserving and reviving the memory of Irish identity. Moya, Cormac and Edel present that story to you in an inspiring hour of music, word and image.
Memory of saints ….We weave our history from medieval times with the beautiful Irish ‘Book of Hymns’, in which we find the earliest prayers to our patron saints Patrick and Brigit. As we wonder at its survival for almost a thousand years, we sing a medieval hymn Deus meus adiuva me ‘My God help me’ and a tender Christmas hymn composed by the seventeenth-century Irish Franciscan Hugh MacCaughwell.
Memory of heroes … The heroic exploits of Finn McCoole and his warriors the fíanna are still told in Irish folktales and linked to many Irish places. We look at Duanaire Finn ‘The poem book of Finn’ the only surviving copy of medieval Gaelic poems on Finn and his heroic world. We appreciate the sounds of the poetry as Cormac reads the original and Moya accompanies him with the stately piece ‘The Princess Royal’.
Memory of scholars … The haunting song Fill, fill a ruin ó ‘Return, return o beloved’ sung by Moya introduces the theme of turbulence and the religious wars of the late sixteenth century in Ireland. People were torn between religions and loyalties to their own lords and to the English and Spanish crowns. In the midst of this turmoil the Irish Franciscans lost much but persevered by remaining in Ireland and also created a great cultural renaissance in their colleges in Europe. Edel reads from the first-hand account of Donatus Mooney, a Franciscan who travelled Ireland in 1616.
Memory of lords … The blind harpist Rory Dall Ó Catháin entertained the nobles of Ireland and Scotland. Cormac opens with his piece Seabhac na hÉirne ‘Hawk of the Erne’ as Moya weaves into the lively folk song from Donegal Dúlaman na binne buí ‘Seaweed of the cliff top’. In 1607 Donegal was the place from which the Irish earls O’Neill and O’Donnell left Ireland for Europe. Hoping to gain support from the Spanish king they never reached Spain but were conducted to Rome. The Irish Franciscans cared for them and their noble families. Their historian Tadhg Ó Cianáin kept a diary of their journey to Rome. The only copy of his account is preserved in the Franciscan archive.
Memory of women … Rosa O’Doherty was wife of Cafarr O’Donnell and later of Owen Roe O’Neill, leader of the Irish on the Continent and in Ireland in the 1640s. Owen Roe was probably one of the first people to suggest that Ireland be governed as a republic. His wife Rosa was a very powerful woman who involved herself deeply in the affairs of Ireland. She is buried in St Anthony’s College, the Irish Franciscan college in Leuven (Belgium). Edel reads from one of her letters as Moya and Cormac play Caoineadh Eoghan Ruadh ‘The lament for Owen Roe’.
Memory of place … An Irish Franciscan addresses a poem to the deserted Franciscan friary of Adare, County Limerick. This church was one of the wealthiest in the possession of the Franciscans endowed by the great nobles of Munster, many of whom left for Europe after the Treaty of Limerick in 1690. Caoineadh Luimní ‘The lament for Limerick’ expresses the grief of this flight of people from Ireland.
Saving the memory … In the seventeenth century the Irish Franciscans saved Irish manuscripts and native Gaelic culture. They wrote the history of Ireland, of its kings and its saints. They brought their cause to the courts of Europe. They left us with a priceless legacy. We are following their footsteps dochum glóire Dé agus onóra na hÉireann ‘for the glory of God and the honour of Ireland’. Come and join us in our mission…..