Autumn 2000


The review of Arts legislation announced by Síle De Valera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands is timely and welcome and in particular the separate attention being given to Irish traditional arts.

While we rejoice in the popularity of Irish traditional music and dance world-wide, it is timely to recall the deeds and vision of those who sowed and cultivated the seed for this bountiful harvest. There are many colourful and talented personalities to be found in the annals of our native music. These are the men and women who composed, played and passed on our musical heritage from generation to generation. Their enthusiasm inspired and guided many young virtuosos who in turn put their own unique and individual stamp on an ancient music which is ever fresh and vibrant.

Irish traditional music receives its sustenance from its community roots. The glittering lights merely highlight the sheen and beauty of that which for decades was lovingly nurtured at crossroads, fireside and community celebrations. A gift-wrapped parcel heightens the expectation of discovery but the wrapping is discarded once the gift is revealed and cherished.

Sometimes we are slow to recognise the treasure which is our musical heritage. We may wait for other nationalities to prompt us towards this appreciation. Even in official circles such as the arts, tourism, education, etc. old moulds don’t crack too easily and are very often rendered irrelevant to the reality as manifested by local communities.

Irish traditional arts at this juncture require specialist and accelerated attention with a fresh and, indeed, a radical approach. Cosmetic responses are futile. A positive and generous approach would be to the credit of those who demonstrate such courage. It would be fitting and timely that this would happen in 2001 - the 50th anniversary of the founding of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann.