Participatory music in the Irish Gaeltacht

Éamonn Costello

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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The dramatic modernisation that An Cheathrú Rua (Carraroe) in the Conamara Gaeltacht1 has experienced from the mid-twentieth century onwards, has brought about a state of technologically-induced social isolation2 amongst the local population. This feeling of social isolation is mirrored by the loudness of Conamara Country and Western (CC&W) performances, which inhibit verbal communication and therefore community bonding. In the past in Carraroe, the performance of sean-nós3 and Irish traditional music was a fully participatory, and a highly intimate event. As such, it helped to reinforce the community bonds essential for sustaining the area’s economy which, up until the early 1960s, was a co-operative labour system. The introduction of industry to Carraroe brought an end to this system, and, by extension, sean-nós lost its function in the community. To compound matters, due to the influence of Romantic nationalism, sean-nós is widely seen as an index of an idealised primitive Gaeltacht, which bears little resemblance to contemporary Gaeltacht life. CC&W music sung in Irish/Gaelic4 has become the dominant music genre of the area, partly because the cosmopolitan nature of CC&W subverts the primitive image of the Gaeltacht fostered by Romantic revivalists. Since Carraroe is one of Conamara’s major socialising hubs, it is, in my opinion, a synecdoche for the Conamara Gaeltacht.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationÓn gCos go Cluas
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Dancing to Listening
EditorsLiz Doherty, Fintan Vallely
PublisherAberdeen University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-85752-073-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference - Northern Ireland, Derry/Londonderry, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 20121 Jul 2012

Publication series

NameFiddle and Dance Studies from around the North Atlantic 5


ConferenceNorth Atlantic Fiddle Convention Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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