Siblings of Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin to share songs and memories at Éigse
The earliest childhood songs of Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin are likely to be among the memories recalled next week at the annual festival in memory of the broadcaster and singer.
Éigse Dhiarmuid Uí Shúilleabháin will open in Cúil Aodha on November 30 with a gathering of his siblings in which they will share songs and memories of their brother, who died in a car accident in 1991.
‘Cuimhní Cinn Mhuintir Shúilleabháin’ will be presented by Diarmuid’s friend and singing partner Johnny Lehane and represents a rare chance for those attending the festival to gain an insight into the man and his music from his brothers and sisters.
The oldest brother in the family of seven, Danny Maidhcí Ó Súilleabháin remembers clearly when Diarmuid, or Diarmuidín as he was known, made his singing debut at Scoil Barr d’Inse.
Diarmuidín, the secondoldest brother, was to make his first appearance in front of the school Irish inspector in hopes of being awarded the cúig phunt, or £5 grant, and a song in Irish was deemed necessary.
“Seán Eoghain Ó Súilleabháin, a kind of relative of ours, made the first song Diarmuidín ever sang,” recalls Danny. “The cigire [inspector] was expected in the school and Seán Eoghain called to us one Sunday and my father asked Seán had he any song for Diarmuidín.
“Seán Eoghain composed a song and came with it the next Sunday.”
The song, ‘Achainí an Scoláire’, imploring the inspector to be lenient with his questions, won favour with the cigire, one Tomás Ó Laoi, but led to confusion for Diarmuidín over the nature of the money the inspector gave him.
“The cigire gave him a two shilling piece for singing the song and he was delighted. We were coming home that evening and my father was making a rick of turf by the side of the road and Diarmuidín ran up to him and said ‘ní bhfuair éinne an cúig phunt inniu ach mise’.
“He thought the two shilling piece was the £5. He was only about four years of age and he thought himself was the best in the school.”
Diarmuidín went on to become a teacher himself, as well as a journalist with Raidió na Gaeltachta, and a well-known exponent of the Múscraí singing style.
The 27th festival in his honour is the first run by a new committee, who are conscious that as the years pass, fewer among the Éigse audiences are old enough to remember Diarmuidín.
Éigse secretary Cormac Ó hAodha said: “We realised that many people that are now coming to the Éigse would, beyond the photo of Diarmuidín, not have known him at all. Who better to represent Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin and the repertoire of singing of Múscraí than his siblings, so we invited them to come, all at the same time. They will talk of their own memories of Diarmuidín, and sing, and to the best of my knowledge, in the long and proud track record of 26 Éigses, that has never happened.”
Among three days of sessions and recitals, this year’s Éigse also features:
Workshops on Saturday with Nell Ní Chróinín (amhránaíocht); Rosie Stewart (English singing); Hammy Hamilton (flute); Edel Fox (concertina); Liam O’Connor (fiddle); Diarmuid Ó Meachair (accordion); and Mairéad Casey (dance).
A youth music session and céilí.
A Saturday night Gala Concert including the workshop tutors plus Four Star Trio, Cór Chúil Aodha, and Corn Uí Riada 2018 winner, Máire Ní Chéileachair.
Máire Ní Chéileachair will also be a guest at a singers’ afternoon in the Top of Coom on Sunday, hosted by Eibhlís Uí Thuama.
Ó Riada Mass sung by Cór Chúil Aodha live on Raidió na Gaeltachta from Cúil Aodha church.
Éigse Dhiarmuid Uí Shúilleabháin, November 30December 2 in Baile Mhúirne/ Cúil Aodha. See www.eigse.ie
The siblings of singer and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin will share songs and memories of their brother at the Éigse in his memory.