Daithí Ó Nuanáin
Plainchant specialist; Gaeilgeoir; Scout Leader
Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam – A country without a language is a country without a soul. When sayings or ‘seanfhocail’ such as this one are seen as overused, it is clear that there is merit to them. To ignore the value of a language is to deny one’s heritage and identity. Where the Irish language has been ignored and put down in numerous mediums throughout history, its beauty and memory have survived through its inclusion in the arts – poetry, prose and music. It is not enough, however, to simply remember a time when it was always in use. New life and meaning must be given to it. This is why Anúna and the music of Michael McGlynn are so crucial to the identity of the Irish language.
Searching through the vast collection of his music, it is obvious that Michael has always wanted Gaeilge to be a prominent feature in his music. The application of any Irish text to music can produce beautifully contrasting effects, be it a calm and soothing lullaby in Suantraí, a portrayal of the rough coastal waters in Hinbarra, or a playfully misleading tune in Siosúram Só. As different as these pieces are from each other, they all share the same goal – they tell a story to which both singers and listeners can relate.
In singing with Anúna, not only do I have the benefit of learning more about myself as a performer, but I also have the opportunity to share my knowledge of a language I love with like-minded people. We all have the chance to further our understanding of the repertoire, music and text alike.
The Irish language is itself undergoing a cultural revival at this moment, and there is no better time than now to rediscover what it means to have our own unique identity. The music of Anúna includes over 1,000 years of text, and Irish is at the forefront of it.
Is linne an teanga seo – bain úsáid aisti.