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A man speaks to an audience
Cormac Ó hAodha speaks in the Whittall Pavilion, March 26, 2004. Photo by Stephen Winick

Cormac Ó hAodha and the Múscraí Gaeltacht: Botkin Plus Podcast!

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We’re back with another entry in the Botkin Plus series AND another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! In this entry, we’ll provide a video of a Botkin Lecture and a podcast interview, both of them featuring Cormac Ó hAodha.

Cormac Ó hAodha is the most recent Lovelace Fellow (aka Lomax Scholar) at the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center. That’s a fellowship established within the Kluge Center especially for the study of the Alan Lomax collection, one of the American Folklife Center’s signature collections. Cormac comes from the village of Cúil Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of Co. Cork in Ireland, a recognized heartland of the Irish language and traditional Irish-language singing. He is conducting in-depth research on the material Lomax collected some 73 years ago from singers in the Múscraí singing tradition, the same singing tradition Cormac grew up in and is a part of. Some of the people recorded by Lomax are Cormac’s relatives, and his research seeks to illuminate their songs, their language, and their traditions.

The Botkin Lecture

In his talk, Cormac discussed his current project, which focuses on the preservation, publication, availability and sharing of intangible Irish creative heritage, specifically of the Irish song tradition of his native Múscraí in Co. Cork. His research is aimed at digital discoverability and preservation in a global web environment for scholars and citizens alike leading ultimately to ‘Digital Return’ of archival records to the communities from which they were originally collected. Cormac’s research goes well beyond the three days of collecting Alan Lomax spent in Cork. As well as being an academic and a researcher, Cormac is himself a singer in this tradition and performed several songs during his lecture/performance. See the video in the player below! (In case of a Network Error, you can watch it on YouTube at this link!)

The Podcast (Get it Here)!

Three men smiling
Selfie! Stephen Winick, Cormac Ó hAodha, and John Fenn in the studio where the podcast was recorded.

We thought Cormac had more tales to tell, more tracks to play, and more songs to sing, so we invited him to be part of the Folklife Today podcast. John Fenn and I talked to Cormac about his tradition, his research, and the importance of the Lomax collection in the history of Irish music recordings. Cormac even pointed out some errors that have made it into the collection’s documentation. We talked about the important issues of repatriating collections and decolonizing archives, two issues Cormac wants to explore further in the Irish context. And of course he played more audio examples and sang more songs. You can find the podcast at this page on the Library’s website, or use your usual podcatcher.

Collection Connections and Links

a woman sits by a hearth with a pot suspended by a hook to her right.
Elizabeth Cronin, photographed by George Pickow in 1952, the year after Lomax’s visit to Mrs. Cronin. AFC Jean Ritchie and George Pickow Collection.

Alan Lomax’s Recordings and Notes from Múscraí

Irish Music and Song Resources from AFC

Online Collections with Significant Irish Music and Song

Collections You Can Access in the Library

Rediscover Northern Ireland Series

In 2007 and 2008, AFC presented musical programs in the Rediscover Northern Ireland series. Artists included Dáithí Sproule, Robert Watt, Maurice Leyden, Gary Hastings, Brian Mullen, Rosie Stewart, Len Graham, the Tommy Sands Family, and the Francis McPeake Family. Find all the videos in the Rediscover Northern Ireland series here.

Irish Music and Song Blogs

Here on the blog, we have a category for “Irish American History,” but in practice most of those posts feature Irish traditional music. Full-length concert videos with interviews include The Armagh Rhymers, Billy McComiskey and Friends, and The Murphy Beds. Many more posts feature archival Irish music, or analysis of individual Irish songs such as “Arthur McBride” and “Sentenced to Death.” Find posts on Irish American History and Song, including full concerts, here.

Other Selected Programs

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening!

In case you need that podcast link again…here it is!

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