In a brand-new authored documentary, commissioned to mark 50 years of Raidió na Gaeltachta, musician and national treasure Mairéad Ní Mhaoinigh explores the role the station has played in shaping her own career as a musician – and that of many other musicians of her generation and beyond.
The journey begins in 1960s Donegal, where Mairéad and her siblings were taught music by her father, Francie, but where traditional music was in decline and largely hidden behind the doors of peoples’ homes.
And then in 1972 a new Irish-language station, Raidió na Gaeltachta came on the air, and enabled communities from different Gaeltachts to hear one another’s language and music, many for the first time.
Radio producers from the three studios in Donegal, Galway and Kerry went out into their communities and recorded music, speech and song, creating an invaluable archive of material that would otherwise have been lost – and broadcasting it to the nation.
None of those archivists could have foreseen the influence that this would have on future generations – or the role that those recordings would play in the revival of traditional music and song on this island over the next half-century.
Featuring performances by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, sean-nós legend Sarah Griallais, Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich and many more, Ceol na nGael follows one of Ireland’s best-loved musicians on a journey down Ireland’s western seaboard, and back through the archives, as she reflects on how her own life as a performer was shaped by those early recordings.
She meets fellow musicians and broadcasters, including Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha, Michelle Nic Grianna and Áine Hensey along the way, and together they tell the story of how the station inspired a generation to breathe new life into the music and song tradition in Ireland.
Presented and written by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh – and produced and directed by Conor Byrne.
The documentary airs on RTÉ One on Thursday, December 8 at 10.15pm.