JACK BANKS

Arts Council Logo.jpg
  • Twitter Clean

Follow me on Twitter

  • w-flickr

Follow me on Flickr

Réamhrá

 

Bhíos i mBaile na nGall, Iarthar Dhuibhneach trá a deineadh dianghlasú ar fud na hÉireann fhad a bhí an víreas corónach ag scaipeadh go tréan ar fud na tíre. Is aisteach an t-am a bhí ann sna laethanta tosaigh den phaindéim.

 

Bhí sé de phribhléid agam agus bhí lúcháir ormsa a bheith san áit iargcúlta agus speisialta seo, ach ag an am céanna bhí éigin teacht ann faoi cad a bheadh i ndán sna todhchaí.

 

An mbeadh sé mar seo ar feadh cúpla seachtain? Mí b’fhéidir? Ag an bpointe sin, filleadh ar an saol mar ba gnách dúinn roimhe seo, mar a bhí sé agus in ainm is a bheith nach raibh sé ar seachrán riamh.

 

Gan amhras, ní mar seo a tharla.

 

Is fuath liom an téarma, ach bhíomar uilig ag maireachtáil sa ‘New Normal’. D’fhoghlaimíómar focail agus frasaí nua atá anois sáite isteach sa teanga dhúchasach: dianghlasú, clotharú, achair shóisialta. Ach an rud is mó a thit amach ná rinneamar cairde nua. Chothaigh sé nasc buan le muintir na háite agus chruthaigh sé cuimhní nua agus luachmhara.

 

Bhí an saol simplí. Ag bualadh le daoine, ag comhrá leo — i gconaí ag caint agus ansin níos mó cainte. Tráth den saol, ní raibh an t-am againn nó níor thugamar an t-am dúinn féin, ach anois bhí an t-am againn agus bhíomar lán sásta níos mó ama a chaitheamh le daoine. Ag súil na bóithre, cois trá, ag na haillte ag féachaint amach i dtreo An Tríur Deirféar — stopamar agus chuireamar aithne ar a chéile. Bhí sé ar aon dul le bothántaíocht, ach amuigh faoin spéir.

 

Le linn an tréimhse seo bhí m’uncail, Michéal Ó Muircheartaigh mar aoi ar an Late Late Show agus labhair sé faoin tábhacht a bhaineann le dearfacht a choiméad. Bhí sé ag caint ar a shon féin in aois a 90 bliain, ach chomh maith bhí sé ag caint chomh  maith ar son na tíre, agus an domhain fiú amháin.

 

Ní raibh gá dó ach frása amháin a úsáid: ‘Dúiseacht le dúthracht ag breacadh an lae’.

 

Bhí Michéal ag tumadh le cuimhne na ndaoine don líne amháin a bhí ag teastáil uaidh —tugadh ar láimh dó é óna mháthair chríonna Cáit Ní Loinsigh. D’aithris sí an líne dá garpháistí ina mblianta múnlaitheacha agus ní dhearna siad dearmad air riamh — meon agus téama ó phaidir níos leithne a taisceadh leis an gCoimisiún Béaloideasa i 1935:

 

'Urmuighe a múineadh I'm leanbh dom fhéin,

Dúiseacht le dúthracht ar ghairm na n-éan,

Mo ghlúine a leigint fúm ag achairt chun Dé,

Ar an úr-mhac a bhí go tuirseach ar sileadh na ngéag.

Rí na n-aingeal, na n-asbol, na bhfáidh, is na gcliar,

A Dhia a cheannuigh sinn id’ leanbh, is tú áireamh bliain,

Iarsma atáim ag lorg ort, a Mhic Athar na nGrás atá fial,

Trócaire dhom anam agus maitheamhnas im dhéarna riamh.'

 

Tá radharc iontach ó mo theach i mBaile na nGall ar Chaisleán Galluras a thóg Ridire Chiarraí sa 15ú haois. Saolaíodh Cáit Ní Loinsigh taobh leis an gcaisleán i dteachín beag, a bhfuil cuid dá iarsmaí fós ann inniu.

 

Is ansin a théadh m’athair, Dónal Ó Muircheartaigh, a d’imigh ar shlí na fírinne i Deireadh Fómhair 2019, ar laethanta saoire an tsamhraidh agus é ina pháiste — turas an-mhór a bhí ann dul ocht míle siar ó Dhún Síon in aice leis an Daingean le haghaidh saoire ach i gcónaí bhí sé lán d’eachtraíocht agus mar oideachas dó.

 

Áit a chuireadh sé snas ar a chuid Ghaeilge agus é sáite sa phobal ar feadh cúpla mí gach bliain — ag baint na móna i mBaile an Lochaigh, an féar a shábháil, ag caidreamh le daoine agus an-tógtha leis na scéalta a bhí acu.

 

Tharla an rud céanna liomsa i rith an dianghlasú, in ainneoin nach raibh aon bhaint na móna agus féar le shábháil agus mé sáite sa phobal, bhí sé lán d’eachtraíocht, oideachasúil ag éisteacht leis na scéalta. 

 

Sin a spreag mé chun cúntas a choinneáil ar chuid de na scéalta — bhí sé ar intinn agam leas a bhaint as béaloideas agus stair an cheantair agus na cuimhní a spreagadh i measc na daoine le linn dianghlasú Covid-19.

 

Le tacú An Chomhairle Ealaíon, chruthaigh mé an tionscadal ar an mbealach seo, mar is léir gur spreag an paindéim domhanda tréimhse machnaimh ionainn uile.

 

Mar chuid den mhachnamh sin d’úsáid daoine cuimhní agus stair theaghlaigh mar phointí tagartha agus nasc le himeachtaí inar féidir cosúlachtaí le paindéim Covid-19 a tharraingt. Ina measc seo tá imeachtaí ar nós an Gorta Mór, an Fliú Mór i 1918-19 agus an eipidéim tíofóideach a bhuail an ceantar seo i 1939.

 

Déanann 'Scáth A Chéile' iarracht dul amach i measc muintir Bhaile na nGall agus Muiríoch agus tús a chur leis an bpróiseas smaointe  a léiriú i bhfocail agus in íomhánna. Ba phribhléid é na scéalta seo a chlos — cuimhní na ndaoine agus an pobal imithe romhain ar shlí na fírinne, na háiteanna a ndeachaigh siad agus na daoine a thug beatha don bpobal Gaeltachta ar leith atá anseo.

Joe Ó Muircheartaigh

Nollaig, 2020

TEAM

Introduction

 

I was in Baile na nGall, West Kerry when Ireland went into lockdown as a coronavirus wave swept across the country. It was a strange time in those early days of the pandemic. Privileged and overjoyed to be in this special and isolated part of the world, yet uncertain about what the future would hold.

 

Would this just be for a few weeks? A month maybe? Then life as we knew it before — the humdrum of normality would swing back like it had never been away.

 

Of course, this didn’t happen.

 

It’s an awful term, but we were living in what was the ‘New Normal’. We even learned new words and phrases that became part of the everyday: lockdown, cocooning, social distancing. But most of all we made new friends, new bonds, new and treasured memories.

 

It was because of the simple things. Meeting people, talking to them — always talking and more talk. When once we didn’t have the time or didn’t allow ourselves the time, we now had time and made more time. On the roads, on the beaches, by the cliffs looking out at The Three Sisters: we stopped; we got to know each other. This was bothántaíocht, but out in the open without going into people’s houses.

 

It was during this time that my uncle, Michéal Ó Muircheartaigh was a guest on The Late Late Show and spoke about the importance of remaining positive — he was speaking for himself in his 90th year, but also for us as a nation, a world even.

 

One phrase did it: ‘Dúiseacht le dúthracht ag breacadh an lae’ — wake with enthusiasm at the dawning of the day. 

 

Michéal was dipping into folk memory for the one line he needed — it was handed down to him by his grand-mother Cáit Ní Loinsigh. It was a line she used to recite to her grandchildren in their formative years and they never forgot it — a sentiment and theme from a wider prayer that was deposited with the Folklore Commission in 1935:

 

'Urmuighe a múineadh I'm leanbh dom fhéin,

Dúiseacht le dúthracht ar ghairm na n-éan,

Mo ghlúine a leigint fúm ag achairt chun Dé,

Ar an úr-mhac a bhí go tuirseach ar sileadh na ngéag.

Rí na n-aingeal, na n-asbol, na bhfáidh, is na gcliar,

A Dhia a cheannuigh sinn id’ leanbh, is tú áireamh bliain,

Iarsma atáim ag lorg ort, a Mhic Athar na nGrás atá fial,

Trócaire dhom anam agus maitheamhnas im dhéarna riamh.'

 

From my house in Baile na nGall, there is a great view of Galluras Castle that was built by the Knight of Kerry in the 15th century. In 1859 Cáit Ní Loinsigh was born beside the castle in a small cottage, part of the remains of which still stand today.

 

It’s where my father Dónal Ó Muircheartaigh, who passed away in October 2019 spent his summers as a child — it was a huge journey to go eight miles west from this home in Dún Síon outside Dingle for holidays that were always an adventure and an education.

 

This was where he put ‘snas’ on his Irish, where he became part of community for a few months every year — cutting turf in Baile an Lochaigh, saving the hay, meeting people, hearing their stories.

 

It’s just what happened me during the lockdown — minus the turf cutting and saving hay — as I became part of the community, but it was educational as I listened to people’s stories.

 

It’s what prompted me to document some of those stories — it was to try and tap into the folklore and history of the area and the memories triggered in people during the coronavirus lockdown.

 

I framed the project that has been supported by the Arts Council in this way, because it’s clear that the global pandemic sparked a time of reflection in us all. 

 

As part of that reflection people have used memory and family history as reference points and links to events where similarities with the Covid-19 pandemic can be drawn. Included in these are events like the Great Famine, the Great Flu in 1918-19 and the typhoid epidemic that hit this area in 1939.

 

'Scáth A Chéile' endeavours to go out into the community around Baile na nGall and Muiríoch and begins the process of capturing the memories of the people of the area in words and images. It has been a privilege to hear these stories — the memories of the people and characters who have passed away, the places they went and the people that brought life to this unique Gaeltacht community.

 

Joe Ó Muircheartaigh

December, 2020