Groups’ envy of Si­amsa treat­ment

STATE PA­PERS FROM PAST RE­VEAL CRIT­I­CISM OF ‘FAVOURABLE’ PO­SI­TION

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - SIMON BROUDER

SI­AMSA Tíre’s ap­par­ent spe­cial treat­ment by Ir­ish government’s in the sev­en­ties and early eight­ies raised the hack­les of other arts groups across Ire­land ac­cord­ing to new files re­leased as part of the lat­est batch of State pa­pers pub­lished un­der the 30 year rule.

Among the hun­dreds of pre­vi­ously se­cret doc­u­ments and re­ports pub­lished this week is a De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs file on two pro­mo­tional trips to the US un­der­taken by a troupe of Si­amsa Tíre per­form­ers in 1976 and 1982.

In or­gan­is­ing the two trips, the sec­ond of which re­ceived £5,000 in fund­ing from the government, Si­amsa Tíre were given con­sid­er­able aid by Bord Fáilte, Aer Lin­gus, The De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and the Ir­ish con­sulate in the US.

This level of Government sup­port for Si­amsa Tire drew the ire of other Ir­ish cul­tural groups who felt they were not re­ceiv­ing their fair share of sup­port and prompted Ire­land’s Con­sul Gen­eral in the US Thomas Lyons to write home to the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs warn­ing of­fi­cials in Ire­land that other cul­tural groups were dis­pleased at Si­amsa’s, al­leged, spe­cial treat­ment and would use its US trips to ad­vance their own case for ex­tra fund­ing.

“While it is ap­pre­ci­ated that con­sid­er­able pres­sure was ex­er­cised in re­gard to (pro­mot­ing) the Si­amsa visit, there may be a dan­ger that groups who find them­selves less favoured may fell they have grounds for com­plaint,” he wrote.

“Comhal­tas Ce­oltóirí in par­tic­u­lar ap­pear al­ready to be har­bour­ing a griev­ance against our De­part­ment be­cause of al­leged lack of sup­port for their Amer­i­can tour. It ap­pears they can­not be un­aware of the ex­tent of sup­port now be­ing given to Si­amsa,” said Mr Lyons.

“There seems to be no good rea­son why they them­selves should not look for sim­i­lar sup­port in the fu­ture or at least use the present sit­u­a­tion to sup­port their com­plaint that they are be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against,” he wrote.

Con­versely, while other Ir­ish arts and cul­tural groups were be­moan­ing Si­amsa Tíre’s spe­cial treat­ment, the mem­bers of Si­amsa Tíre them­selves were dis­tinctly unim­pressed with the aid they had ac­tu­ally re­ceived and in the var­i­ous state agen­cies ef­forts to pro­mote the two US tours.

With US au­di­ences, and earn­ings, well be­low ex­pec­ta­tions in 1976 Thomas Lyons wrote that the lead­ers of the Si­amsa Tíre group had ex­pressed se­ri­ous dis­sat­is­fac­tion, es­pe­cially with the work done by Bord Failte and Aer Lin­gus, to pro­mote their tour.

“Fr (Dermod) McCarthy does not ap­pear to have been happy with the as­sis­tance given by the semi state bod­ies. In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with me dur­ing the week he asked what I con­sid­ered to be some very pointed ques­tions about Bord Failte and Aer Lin­gus,” wrote Mr Lyons.

“He seemed to feel very strongly that it was up to the Ir­ish or­gan­i­sa­tions to get out there and cre­ate in­ter­est in Si­amsa and the im­pres­sion was given that he would be crit­i­cal of any or­gan­i­sa­tion which had not lived up to his ex­pec­ta­tions in this re­gard,” he said.

It was also point­edly noted in Thomas Lyons’ report that while the Si­amsa group had been hosted and en­ter­tained by mem­bers of var­i­ous Ir­ish Amer­i­can so­ci­eties, in­clud­ing a group of Ir­ish Amer­i­can po­lice in Chicago, the Si­amsa troupe “does not ap­pear to have been at any time in a po­si­tion where groups sym­pa­thetic to the IRA could ex­ploit its pres­ence for pub­lic­ity pur­poses.”

■ A group from Si­amsa Tire vis­it­ing Ohio Sta­dium in Colom­bus on a US tour back in 1982.

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