"THE GREAT Blasket was blessed with a population of distinctive character and with eminent literary gifts. The islanders chose to write in their own language until complete evacuation of their island home occurred in 1953."
So said the chair of An Taibhdhearc, Aodh Ó Coiléain, as the theatre prepares to hold a musical celebration of the culture of these Kerry islands - taking place on Wednesday March 11 - featuring Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and her band - Gerard O’Beirne and Dónal O’Connor.
Muireann, an award-winning traditional singer and musician, and a leading exponent of sean nós, grew up in Dún Chaoin, overlooking the Blaskets. She was also the lead singer and flute player with trad group Danú. "I am very much looking forward to singing in An Taibhdhearc, a first time for me," she said. "I will play from my new album Thar Tonn which has a theme of the sea in each piece."
Aodh Ó Coiléain noted: "Muireann has done much to keep the music and song of the Blaskets alive. She has revived some of the songs of Seán de hÓra, whose mother came from one of the smaller Blaskets. Seán Ó Riada has acknowledged Seán de hÓra’s musical influence on him."
The show will also feature a performance of ‘Suantraí na hInise/Island Lullaby’, a music/theatre event composed by Colm Ó Foghlú, and originally premiered in 2013 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Blasket evacuation. Joining Colm will be Niamh Ní Charra (concertina ), Noreen O’Donoghue (harp ) and a string ensemble. "Colm’s composition blends the traditional and classical traditions," said Ó Coiléain, "in a mix more potent than liquor washed ashore from shipwrecks on the Western Isles."
The show is presented in association with NUI, Galway's Arts in Action. Tickets are €20 from An Taibhdhearc, Middle Street (091-562024, www.antaibhdhearc.com ).