ANCHORS AWEIGH Casadh Na Taoide was launched last Friday, on the feast day of St Macdara, on the uninhabited monastic island Oileán Mhic Dara. On this day, fishermen and locals come to venerate the patron saint of seafarers and bless the boats to keep fishermen safe for the for the year ahead. Pictured are musicians Diarmuid Gielty, Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin (Casadh Na Taoide) and Laoise Kelly. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Epic cultural voyage designed to reconnect five offshore islands
Casadh na taoide – the turning of the tide – is the natural and consistent ebb and flow that happens effortlessly all over the planet, day after day, season after season. With each turn of the tide, as the ocean keeps its unique rhythm, the sea and her stories and histories are connected to the shores. Here on the exposed and westerly coast of Ireland, the dependency of our islands on the sea and on the tide has forged strong connections between those islands and the people who live on them.
One of those people is Laoise Kelly, TG4 Musician of the Year and artistic director of the Achill International Harp Festival. In a cultural project entitled Casadh na Taoide, Laoise is joining a crew on an epic voyage, reconnecting five islands off the Galway, Mayo and Donegal coasts through music, song and story.
Travelling on a traditional Galway Hooker – Mac Duach – led by skipper Dr Michael Brogan, the crew is visiting the Galway islands of Inishbofin, the Mayo islands of Inishturk, Clare Island and Achill and Donegal’s Árainn Mhór. Along the journey, they will meet with musicians, artists, storytellers and historians.
The seeds of this epic cultural voyage were sown two years ago, and with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, the next couple of weeks will see Laoise and fellow crew member, Achill fiddle player Diarmuid Gielty, reconnecting with island communities on these offshore islands. They will gather stories of shared heritage and culture, with the hope of forging new connections for a shared future.
In addition to the voyage, an artist has been commissioned on each island to collaborate, compose and create a new body of work, which will be recorded and will feature as the Friday-night performance of this year’s Achill International Harp Festival, which takes place in October. The commissioned artists are Andrew Murray, singer (Inishbofin); Cathy O’Toole, musician (Inishturk); Beth Moran, weaver (Clare Island); Mary Lavelle Burke, RIP, visual artist (Achill); and Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird, writer (Árainn Mhór).
On Friday last, July 16, Laoise, Diarmuid and the crew of the Mac Duach set out on this unique and exciting voyage, beginning with a visit to Oileán Mhic Dara, to pay tribute to St Mac Dara, the patron saint of seafarers.
Their itinerary sees them journey to Inishbofin, Inishturk and Clare Island, then on to Achill Island and finally to Arranmore, sharing the love of music, story and culture that always existed between these island communities, which are bridged by the sea and shaped by the tide.
Follow the Casadh na Taoide journey on Facebook @CnaTaoide, Twitter @CasadhnaTaoide, and Instagram @casadh_na_taoide.