26 Jul - 1 Aug 2024

Player Sessions

Amhrán na Leabhar [‘song of the books’] (1 of 2)

Sylvia Crawford

60 mins

Level: All

Saturday July 27th

14:30 - 15:30 GMT +1

Event Overview

The tune of Amhrán na Leabhar gets its title from the song-text written by the poet and school teacher, Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1785-1848). The song is a lament for the loss of Ó Súilleabháin's precious books, in a shipwreck off the coast of Kerry. The origin of the tune is less certain though; we do not know if Ó Súilleabháin also composed the tune, or if he set his words to a tune already in the tradition. Both the song and the instrumental air are popular in the living tradition.

I first heard this tune played on the pipes by Eugene Lambe, in the coastal village of Kinvara, county Galway. Eugene himself was a keen sailor, and maybe identified with the tragic story of the song. His playing of this tune made such an impression on me that it became one of the first tunes I ever learned on the harp. It is a wonderful air, and so well suited to our harps.

(part 1 of a two-part session)

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