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Focail Eile

2017-07-05 15:00 —

A trip to the border counties of Armagh and Louth and finishing up in the Linen Hall Library

Gregor welcomed the opportunity to visit places of historical interest in Armagh and Louth, where he saw St. Brigid's shrine, places associated with the mythological hero Cú Chulainn and the Viking town of Carlingford. Next event was a book and art exhibition launch. 

Hero of Heroes exhibition by artist Dara Valley and author Réamonn Ó Ciaráin was launched last night in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. The Linen Hall Library is a unique institution. It was founded in 1788 by a group of artisans as the Belfast Reading Society and in 1792 became the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge. (See more: https://www.linenhall.com/

Dara Vallely and Réamonn Ó Ciaráin tell the story of the great warrior Cúchulainn. The story of Cúchulainn dates back to the 7th Century A.D. but still dominates the mythological and imaginative landscape of Ireland. The tale has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries, first orally and then written down in Irish by dedicated Irish monks.

The story of Cú Chulainn dates back to medieval times but still dominants the mythological landscape of Ireland. Few tales have captured the Ulster imagination quite like it, nor for so long. Over the course of some 700 years, the tale has been handed down from generation to generation.

The mythological narrative plots Cú Chulainn’s origins from when he first slew a local king’s beloved hound in self defence
–and agreed to be the king’s replacement guard dog by way of recompense– to his death at the tip of Lugaid's spear.

During his mythological lifetime, the warrior became known as the finest in Ulster. Some speculated that his unearthly power lay in his having seven fingers on each hand, seven toes on each of his feet and seven pupils in each of his eyes. Magic, romance, betrayal and violence mark every twist and turn in the narrative as Cú Chulainn fights unrequited love, sullen in-laws and entire armies on the battlefield.

The traditional tale was primarily passed on through the generations orally, rather than being written down, meaning that it was shared at firesides, community celebrations and clan meetings. 

Réamonn told some of stories about Cú Chulainn, that captured the audiences imagination. 

The room was surrounded by Vallely's paintings that  present a refreshing mix of old and new. Each one pays tribute to traditional Irish art, referencing Celtic symbols and style. Yet they also pay tribute to the rebellious heart of the international modernist movement. 

As part of the event the Armagh Rhymers carried out a ritual performance based on some of the Cú Chulainn stories. The Armagh Rhymers are one of Ireland’s most celebrated traditional music and theatre ensembles. They are Mummers, ballad singers, actors, musicians, dancers, storytellers and clowns, dressed in amazing costumes and masks of flax, willow and straw. The masked tradition of rhyming with its unique blend of music, drama, song and dance dates back over 2,500 years. It celebrates the ‘theatre of the people’ and has inspired many major Irish writers. See more: https://armaghrhymers.com/.

Gregor had an opportunity to enjoy this first class event which featured literature, art, music, song and dance inspired by one of Ireland’s greatest mythological stories.