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Publication of Travel Diaries of Séamus Ennis

‘Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis - Dialann Taistil 1942-1946

Ríonach uí Ógáin (editor), ISBN 978 1 905560 07 3, €45 Hardback

Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis - Dialann Taistil 1942-1946 is a new book which provides a fascinating insight into the life and work of piper and music collector Séamus Ennis during his period as full-time collector with the Irish Folklore Commission when he worked in counties Galway, Clare, Mayo, Donegal, Limerick and Cavan.

Séamus Ennis was born in north County Dublin, and at the age of twenty-three was appointed by the Irish Folklore Commission as a collector. His work involved travelling to different parts of Ireland to document traditional music and song in oral tradition. The job was demanding and required a person with particular skills: the ability to write down the notation and words of tunes and songs; fluent Irish; an excellent understanding of the musical tradition; and also a personality that would facilitate meeting people and gaining their trust.

Séamus Ennis had all of these qualities in abundance and excelled at his work It was said of him that he could do in a day what would take other collectors a week to achieve. He had a natural empathy with those he met on his travels and was very successful in encouraging them to share their music with him. Ennis also had an innate ability to acquire the regional accents of the areas he visited, a talent which has undoubtedly endeared him to those he met, as did his intuitive understanding of the music and his own musical skills. The diary he kept of his time in the field working for the Commission is part of the National Folklore Collection at UCD, and has now been published by Ríonach uí Ógáin.

The diary provides an absorbing account of Ireland during World War II. Of its nature, the diary comments on many aspects of life at that time, the musical tradition, the people and communities Ennis visited, their way of life, the state of the Irish language, and the diary also paints a vivid picture of Ennis himself, a man who remains a highly respected and admired figure. The importance of his work cannot be underestimated, and the thriving traditional music culture we enjoy in Ireland today owes much to his extensive work, collecting and recording songs and music which would otherwise have been lost.

Mise an fear ceoil’ is available from bookshops all over the country and from the

Permalink - Posted: April 26, 2007 at 11:20 am