THE 40th Pan-Celtic Festival in Dingle, in the Irish Republic’s County Kerry, had great representation from the island this year, in singing competitions, ceilis, language classes and a Minority Languages Symposium.
The Celtic music festival took place in the remote and beautiful south-west peninsula – a Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking area – between April 26 and May 1.
First to the stage for the group traditional singing – two songs in Manx Gaelic – came Falga, whose members, Clare Kilgallon, Margaid Bird and Fiona McArdle, are all members of the Gaelic choir Cliogaree Twoaie.
They sang My Chaillin Veg Dhone (Little Brown Girl), arranged by Frank Woolley, and Cadlee ny Moidyn Moirrey (Lullaby of the Virgin Mary), with a new arrangement in close harmony by David Kilgallon, which the inter-Celtic audience loved.
Falga came first in their competition. They were invited to sing live on Raidió na Gaeltachta the following day and also made a podcast for Mazz O’ Flaherty of the Dingle Record Shop which will go out on her website www.sessionsfromtheshop.com later in the year.
The following evening saw the prestigious New Song contest where each country puts forward the song which has won its own national competition.
Ny Jinnyn – Dave McLean, Laura and David Rowles, Steve Kerrison and Barry Nelson – represented the island with Sy Ghrianane, a jointly composed song of the Summerland tragedy.
It tells the story of Dave’s sister, who had told the family she would be going to the entertainment venue that night.
Only later did the family’s agony turn to joy as she returned home, she and her friends having changed their minds at the last minute.
The guys gave a great musical performance, much appreciated by the audience, and came second to the winning Welsh entry by only one mark! All the songs sung in this competition and the winning songs from the traditional solos, groups and choirs are produced annually on a Pan-Celtic highlights CD, available later in the year.
A Manx, Cornish and Breton ceili evening also gave a great chance for people to hear Manx singing, Ny Jinnyn playing, and to participate in some easy Manx dances, along with musical performances from Cornwall, and a Fest Noz (Festival Night) of Breton music and dance.
Phil Gawne MHK was unable to be present at the synposium on Regional Development in Minority Language Areas but his interesting and thought- provoking paper Aavioghit agh Foast Shirrey Bun Noa Emshyragh (Revived but Still Searching for a New Purpose) was read by Fiona McArdle to a receptive audience, together with papers from speakers from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany.
All the Manx participants expressed their gratitude for the financial support of Isle of Man Arts Council.
Next year’s Pan-Celtic Festival will be in Carlow, Ireland, in Easter Week, April 10-15. Contact Fiona McArdle at email@example.com for further information on the Mannin branch of Pan-Celtic and Arrane son Mannin, the island’s annual national song competition in Manx Gaelic sponsored by the Manx Heritage Foundation.
l More information is available at www.panceltic.ie