Sensory Gaeltacht show explores legacy of 1916

Aisling designer Seán Ó Flaithearta and director Darach Mac Con Iomaire (third and second from right) with; from left - Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Johnny Óg Connolly, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Róisín Seoighe, Pól Ó Ceannabháin, Seán Cathal Ó Coileáin and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh: PHOTO: Boyd Challenger.
Aisling designer Seán Ó Flaithearta and director Darach Mac Con Iomaire (third and second from right) with; from left - Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Johnny Óg Connolly, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Róisín Seoighe, Pól Ó Ceannabháin, Seán Cathal Ó Coileáin and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh: PHOTO: Boyd Challenger.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

We are telling a metaphorical story of life in the Gaeltacht over the last hundred years, good and bad, warts and all,” says Connemara man Darach Mac Con Iomaire, as he describes Aisling? a new show, commissioned by Ealáin na Gaeltachta as part of government’s programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

Aisling?, which will be staged in a factory in Rosmuc this Saturday and Sunday, November26 and 27, at 8pm nightly, consists of music, song, dance, poetry and visual art, most of it new work, says Darach, who curated and is directing the multi-media piece.

Musicians taking part include Donegal’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh on fiddle and vocals; Caoimhín Ó Fearghail from Ring in Waterford on pipes, flute and bouzouki, and Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich from Kerry’s Corca Dhuibhne on vocals and accordion.

The strong Connemara contingent in Aisling? includes composer and accordion player Johnny Óg Connolly, singer and dancer Róisín Seoighe, singer and percussionist Pól Ó Ceannabháin, and actor and performer Úna Ní Fhlatharta and Eoin Geoghegan.

Also taking part are writer and performer Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde from Donegal, and from the same county, Seán Cathal Ó Coileáin who is responsible for graphic art and projections in Aisling?

Underpinning it all is the work of Inis Mór artist and designer Seán Ó Flaithearta who has designed the piece.

“The aim has been to create something that will challenge us all and pull us out of our comfort zone creatively as we mark the centenary of the Rising,” says Darach of Aisling?, which will tour to Gaeltacht areas of Cork, Kerry and Donegal after Rosmuc.

“The brief was to bring on board artists who represent the Gaeltacht,” says Darach of the creative process. And that’s what he has done, with poetry, visual arts, music and design being integral to the piece which he describes “as being more of an art installation” than a concert or theatre show.

“In my experience of working in theatre, you normally go to a designer with a script and you have a particular notion of what you want because the script puts restrictions on you in terms of what’s required,” he observes.

But Aisling? is different because Darach began the process by consulting with designer Seán Ó Flaithearta before the storyline had been developed. That meant “it could be design-led”, he explains.

The two men explored ideas and “five or six months ago, Seán came to my house with a drawing of a currach and this figure on the currach, and waves attached to the oars”, says Darach.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.