Seán Ó Riada – the 20th century’s most influential Irish composer and cultural figure will be brought to television screens this St. Stephen’s Day on TG4. Fifty years after his death in October 1971, his granddaughter; musician and broadcaster Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, resolves to find out more about this divisive and iconic figure. As she investigates her own heritage, by charting her grandfather’s life and times, we uncover the true Ó Riada in a moving tribute to this giant of Irish cultural life.
This is a seminal feature length documentary which gives an intimate portrayal of Seán Ó Riada like never seen before. Produced by Táin Media alongside multi-Oscar nominated Executive Producer Jim Sheridan for TG4, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and University College Cork.
Featuring performances from some of Ireland’s leading musicians and singers such as international concert pianist Barry Douglas, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Nell Ní Chróinín, Steve Cooney, Cormac McCarthy, Cór Chúil Aodha & Doireann Ní Ghlacáin herself. Ní Ghlacáin delves into the archives and presents an intimate portrayal of Ó Riada supported by family, friends and expert analysis of his work through interviews with contemporaries such as Sean Keane (The Chieftains) & Seán Ó Sé. Ní Ghlacáin offers up a nuanced and personal account that unveils much of the story missing in the general narrative on Ó Riada’s life through moving interviews with her mother Sorcha Ní Riada, her aunt Rachel Ní Riada and her uncle Peadar Ó Riada.
This punchy and modern documentary is told from the perspective of a young woman, trying to gain an insight into her grandfather’s legacy as she embarks on her own career in music and in so doing it showcases the vibrant and evolving traditional music and folk scene in Ireland.
We trace Ó Riada’s steps from his college days in UCC to the jazz bars of Paris and back to the Gaeltacht of West Cork and Kerry. We explore his prolific compositional work, his broadcasting, influences and anecdotes and we gain an understanding into what really caused his early demise at just 40 years of age. The female voice is very much to the fore in this documentary, and we bear witness to an alternative view of Ó Riada’s legacy, in particular from the perspective of his wife Ruth Ní Riada who also died tragically, just 6 years after Ó Riada.
Directed by Feilimí O’Connor & Produced by Dónal O’Connor this is the first feature length documentary by Táin Media. Co-written by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin & Feilimí O’Connor and in collaboration with executive producers Jim Sheridan & Neil Martin, this is a much-anticipated documentary debut for the fledgling production company.
St. Stephen’s Day 26th December 2021 | TG4 & www.tg4.ie | 9.20pm