Welcome to Galway Sessions

Though always aware of Éamonn Ceannt’s significant and important role in the 1916 Rising and his equally important contribution to the revival of the Irish language and Irish piping, it wasn’t till after reading William Henry’s excellent biography of Éamonn Ceannt Supreme Sacrifice that I came to truly appreciate what an extraordinary man he was.

One can only admire and be fascinated by his single-mindedness , fastidious and meticulous attention to detail and his absolute application to each and every endeavour he under took. A true intellectual, he was described by many as reserved, almost aloof. But beneath this exterior was a passionate and sensitive man. His passion for the Irish language and Irish traditional music in particular piping were central to his belief in a nationalist future for Ireland. These passions where shared by his wife Áine O’Brennan an equally committed activist in the Gaelic League, Cumman na bPíobairí and Cumman na mBan. The level of commitment, dedication and work Éamonn Ceannt gave to organisations such as Cumman na bPíobairí, the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin and the Irish Volunteers as well as his prolific contributions to Irish language, music and political publications is truly breathtaking.

Our focus in this year’s Galway Sessions is on piping and pipers. It is a celebration of piping! Through our extensive programme we hope to demonstrate how piping has evolved since Éamonn Ceannt’s day. I firmly believe he would be very proud indeed of the status uilleann pipes have acquired in world music and in particular of the achievements of Na bPíobairí Uilleann which evolved from the organisation which Éamonn Ceannt co-founded in 1900, Cumman na bPíobairí.

Equally, I hope that our lecture series in the Galway City Museum will help people to acquire a greater understanding of Éammon Ceannt’s love for Galway, it’s people, it’s language, music and culture.

Éammon Ceannt through his life and death left us a remarkable legacy for which we as a nation and a people should be eternally grateful. He is a man worthy of commemoration and remembrance and I trust our offering will honour him in a fitting manner. God rest his soul.

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Cégo raibh eolas agam riamh faoin ról lárnach agus tábhachtach a bhí ag Éamonn Ceannt in Éirí Amach na Cásca agus in athbheochan na Gaeilge agus ceol na bpíb, ba nuair a léigh mé sárbheathaisnéis William Henry, Supreme Sacrifice, a thuig mé i gceart cé chomh iontach is a bhí sé mar dhuine.

Ní fhéadfadh duine gan meas a bheith aige ar an dúthracht agus ar an gcáiréis a léirigh sé i dtaobh gach a raibh sé ag iarraidh a bhaint amach agus ní fhéadfadh duine gan suim a chur sa saothar a rinne sé ar chaith sé an oiread sin dua léi. Mheas roinnt daoine gur fear é a bhí ciúin ann féin agus nach fear mór cuideachta a bhí ann. Ach ainneoin an chuma sin a bheith air, duine paiseanta agus tuisceanach ab ea é. Intleachtóir go smior a bhí ann. Bhí an grá a bhí aige don Ghaeilge agus do cheol traidisiúnta na hÉireann ina dhlúthchuid den fhís a bhí aige mar náisiúnach d’Éirinn. Bhí an tsuim chéanna ag a bhean chéile Áine O’Brennan sna cúrsaí seo agus bhí sí chomh gníomhach is bhí Éamonn féin i gConaradh na Gaeilge agus i gCumann na bPíobairí. Ba bhall gníomhach í de Chumann na mBan freisin. B’iontach an méid dua a chaith sé le cur chun cinn na n-eagraíochtaí a raibh baint aige leo: Cumman na bPíobairí, Conradh na Gaeilge, Sinn Féin agus Óglaigh na hÉireann. B’iontach freisin an obair a rinne sé ar son na Gaeilge, an cheoil agus na bhfoilseachán polaitiúil a raibh baint aige leo.

Beimid ag díriú sna seisiúin cheoil seo i mbliana ar cheol na bpíb agus ar na píobairí féin. Ceiliúradh ar cheol na bpíb atá ann! Agus clár cuimsitheach leagtha amach againn tá súil againn léargas a thabhairt do dhaoine ar an bhforbairt atá tagtha ar an bpíobaireacht ón uair a bhí Éamonn Ceant beo. Creidim go láidir go mbeadh Ceannt féin bródúil as an stádas atá bainte amach ag ceol na bpíb uilleann i saol an cheoil domhanda agus go mbeadh sé bródúil go háirithe as an méid atá bainte amach ag Na Píobairí Uilleann a d’eascair as an eagras a raibh baint ag Éamonn Ceannt lena bhunú.

Ar an dul céanna, tá súil agam go gcuirfidh na leachtaí atá beartaithe againn i Músaem Cathrach na Gaillimhe leis an tuiscint atá ag daoine ar an gcion a bhí ag Eammon Ceannt ar Ghaillimh, ar mhuintir na Gaillimhe agus ar theanga, ar cheol agus ar chultúr na Gaillimhe.

D’fhág saol agus saothar Éammon Ceannt oidhreacht iontach le huacht againn, oidhreacht ar cheart dúinne, mar náisiún, a bheith buíoch go deo as.

Is fiú go mór an fear seo a thabhairt chun cuimhne agus creidim go ndéanfaidh an saothar atá beartaithe againne comóradh cuí air. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Mick Crehan Festival Director