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Connemara Publishing Company, Cló Iar-Chonnachta has been awarded €10,000 for the Irish-language book of the year for ‘Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis, Dialann Taistil 1942-1946, the travel diaries of piper and music collector Séamus Ennis, which was published in April. Cló Iar-Chonnachta was founded in 1985 by Micheál Ó Conghaile and is the largest private Irish-language publishing company in Ireland. The company is based in the Connemara Gaeltacht just west of Spiddal and has published over 300 books to date. Cló Iar-Chonnachta is also a traditional Irish music label, and has released over 150 albums.

Commenting on the book, the selection committee said:
“This is a very polished production, from design and print, to illustrations and photographs. It is a delightful addition to this publisher’s body of high-quality work, and it is a publication, which adds to our understanding of and respect for our own culture. There is no doubt but that this book will be sought after for many years to come, for a great many reasons.”

Séamus Ennis worked as a full-time collector for the Irish Folklore Commission, and the diaries give an account of his time working in counties Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Clare, Cavan and Limerick. He was a gifted musician and had a natural empathy with those he met, successfully persuading even the most reluctant to share their music with him, thereby enabling him to document the oral tradition which was slowly but surely dying. The diaries provide a portrayal of Séamus Ennis himself, a man who remains a highly respected and admired figure, as well as giving us an insight into the life in the west of Ireland during the time of the World War II.

The Séamus Ennis diaries are part of the National Folklore Collection at UCD and were prepared for publication by Ríonach Uí Ógáin who also received a €5,000 cheque as part of the prize. She has spent several years working on the diaries, adding notes to many of the references in them to put them in context for the reader, and also compiling a short biography of each person mentioned in the diaries by Ennis.

‘Mise an fear ceoil’: Séamus Ennis, Dialann Taistil 1942-1946 is on sale in bookshops throughout the country and is on special offer at the moment if purchased directly from the publishers.
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Permalink - Posted: December 5, 2007 at 11:38 am