Ard Thoir, near Carna in Conamara, has gifted the world a rich seam of the beautiful art of sean-nós singing, with all its complex ornamentation and expressive, layered sounds.
The big Conamara songs, the ones that stir your soul, were often passed down through the generations in families – ó ghlúin go glúin – and love of family and tradition are central to the Ceannabháin family who feature in Ceol ón Chlann (music from the family) on TG4 tonight at 10.30pm.
Their father, Michael Mháíre Ghabha was widely known and highly regarded as a songster, a dancer, and a man of great character deeply knowledgeable about Ireland’s most ancient art forms. With his wife Nóra, they raised 11 children, all of whom play or sing traditional music.
Is de bhunadh na hAirde Thoir i gCarna iad Muintir Uí Cheannabháin i gceantar aitheanta Iorras Aithneach i nGaeltacht Chonamara, an ceantar is saibhre amhránaithe ar an sean-nós in Éirinn. B’amhránaí mór le rá é athair na beirte, Michael Mháire Ghabha, agus fuair siad a gcuid amhrán le hoidhreacht uaidh agus óna seanmháthair, Máire Ghabha roimhe.
Ní raibh Caitríona ach dhá bhliain déag nuair a rinne sí a céad taifeadadh in éineacht lena hathair, nach maireann. Iarradh air taifeadadh a dhéanamh do Chló Iar-Chonnachta, rud a rinne sé ar choinníoll amháin agus sin go mbeadh Caitríona ina theannta. Ina dhiaidh sin d’éirigh le Caitríona Comórtas na mBan ag Oireachtas na Gaeilge a bhuachan trí huaire.
Caitríona Ní Cheannabháín was just 12 years old when she recorded her first tape with her late dad. He’d been asked by Cló-Iar Chonnachta to record an album and was happy to as long as Caitríona was involved.
Later, as a sean-nós singer, Caitríona won the women’s competition in Oireachtas na Gaeilge three times. Her brother Pól also won Corn Uí Riada at the Oireachtas and the family often perform together. It is magical to listen to – with that easy harmony that musical families often share, and their sean-nós is both natural and extraordinary.
The program is the first in a series on TG4 looking at musical families. Sraith a thugann léargas ar theaghlaigh cheoil na tíre, a n-oidhreacht agus a dtábhacht i saol an cheoil sa lá atá inniu ann – Clann Mhic Gabhann, Cara Dillon & Mary Dillon, Muintir Uí Cheannabháin, Clann Uí Ghlacáin, Clann Vallely agus Clann Hayden ina measc.