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The Oireachtas

Ardmore Memory and Story - Traditions

4. The Oireachtas
Rulers of the ancient kingdom of 7th century, Ireland formed the original Oireachtas or Assembly. In 1897 Connradh na Gaeilge founded what is now Ireland's longest running annual cultural festival, thereby reviving the noble tradition of assembly and discussion begun by our ancestors centuries earlier. The spirit of the Oireachtas is evoked by similar festivals in the countries of our Celtic neighbours, namely the Eisteddfod in Wales, the Mod in Scotland, the international Celtic festival of Lorient in Brittany and Vn Chrucnnaght in the Isle of Man.

The Oireachtas is a feast of Irish music, song, dance, story-telling with numerous side-events such as cookery demonstrations, craft demonstrations i.e. fashion competitions, sports events, to mention but a few. It takes place at a different venue every year and in 1994 it was in Ring/Dungarvan and was an outstanding success with well in excess of 20,000 visitors during the ten days.

Ardmore participated in the 1994 Oireachtas, the participation involving attending at regular meetings in An Rinn through the proceeding year. The members of the Ardmore section comprised E. Mansfield, C. Lyons, C. Burke, S. Lincoln and E. Fitzgerald who of course were present at the official opening by festival patron Ciarán Mac Mathúna, the well known broadcaster and collector of Irish music, and at various other events during the ten days. Sr. Deuglán of Aird Mhór gave léacht an Oireachtas in Lawlors Hotel. E. Moinbhial was part of the choir for the televised Mass in St. Marys Church, Dungarvan.

The members of our committee were very busy before Monday 31st October, the special Oireachtas Day of Ardmore. It was a memorable occasion. Oireachtas visitors were given a talk in Irish at the Round Tower by Siobhán Lincoln.

St. Declan's Well and St. Declan's Stone were then visited. Refreshments were supplied at the Round Tower Hotel and E. Mansfield regaled the company with stories of Coláiste Deaglán, of which the hotel was part. The late Mrs. M. Foghlu was guest of the committee, her father having founded Coláiste Deaglán.

The Youghal Pipe Band led the group to Halla Deaglán and an evening of music song and dance followed. It was contributed to by the Ardmore children, Nora Looby and her flute players; Mrs N. Walsh and her dancers; the Aglish group who won the Youghal Busking competition that summer, our set dancers; Don Brocky and his musicians and his truly wonderful choir, Canon Power who played the violin and Sr. Deuglán who sang, as also did E. Mansfield. We heard two tapes of Deuglán Supple singing. He was the first to perform in the very early days of broadcasting for 2RN.

No account would be complete without a mention of Keith, not yet four years, who in his piper's uniform and carrying a real set of bagpipes, marched manfully with the band.

The Tidy Towns committee had the flags flying, both at the Cross and at the promenade, so it was really a gala day all around.

C. Burke and C. Lyons had done trojan work beforehand, preparing most attractive posters and other material for display, not alone in Ardmore, but at the functions in Dungarvan and they also arranged the photographic material displayed in the Round Tower Hotel.

These Ardmore committee members are deeply appreciative of having the hall for the functions, of the help given at the door and also behind the scenes by John Kennedy and naturally, of having had such a talented group of people providing entertainment.

Among the distinguished visitors present in Ardmore were Fr. Diarmuid Ó Laoghaire S.J., Íte Ní Chionnaith, chairperson of the Oireachtas and Ciarán Mac Mathúna, patron of the Oireachtas.

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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