Weaving the memory of a Celtic past: tales of Ireland in a treasured archive

The Index of Christian Art in conjunction with the Fund for Irish Studies is pleased to announce a public lecture with music, entitled,

Weaving the memory of a Celtic past: tales of Ireland in a treasured archive
Presented by Moya Brennan, Edel Bhreathnach and Cormac de Barra

Room 106 McCormick hall, Thursday November 11th at 2.30. Space is limited-first come.

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…..

Moya Brennan

Moya Brennan is a world-renowned musician and Grammy-award winner who draws on her own roots in Donegal and on the depth of Irish musical and historical tradition for inspiration. Her band Clannad brought this culture to a world that had rarely heard it before. An icon of Irish music, Moya is currently hosting a major documentary on Irish music Music of Ireland. Welcome Home on PBS Television.

Cormac de Barra

Cormac de Barra is a harper and TV presenter who comes from a family of renowned Irish musicians and singers. Steeped in Irish culture, he has pushed the boundaries of the Irish harp beyond the traditional and classical through theatrical performances and collaborations with artists of many different traditions. He currently tours and records with Moya.

Weaving the memory of a Celtic past: tales of Ireland in a treasured archive

Edel Bhreathnach is a historian of medieval Irish history and literature. She has published widely in the field and is expert on kingship and royal sites such as Tara, County Meath. She is the Deputy Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin.

Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin

Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin was founded in 2000 as part of the UCD-OFM (Order of Friars Minor) Partnership which also initiated the transfer of the priceless Irish Franciscan archive to University College Dublin. Since the creation of the partnership, the UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute has established itself as a leader in the field of Irish history and civilisation. It has hosted over 175 seminars and 30 conferences, funded over 20 PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowships, has been responsible for a suite of major funded research projects as well as carrying out its core tasks of conservation, digitization and dissemination of its growing collections. This has been accomplished by raising €3m through public, private and competitive funding.