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Background note for
As concerns this assignment, in this course we have been looking at film in the Irish language through the decades. This module and future modules will break from this tradition. Today we consider film from all decades at once that display sport and music in Irish. Both Irish language radio and Irish language television offer a rich resource in Irish language music and the sports of the Irish. Instrumental music without lyrics transcends linguistic boundaries. Additionally, traditional musicians from both language communities need Irish language ballads in their repertoire to be considered ‘traditional’. As for sport, commentary can be in English or Irish, but some of the terminology for the native sports are only available in Irish making Gaelic football and hurling uniquely appropriate for Irish language commentary. In Part A below, we will consider sport first. There is a journal article to be read and short films to be viewed. In Part B, music will be considered. There are several music videos and films to be viewed. Enjoy!
Our first topic takes us from the 1930s through 1940s. The topic is Sport Films of the 1940s and Early Newsreel Programs. We will see some clips of sport coverage in the past and compare that with coverage today. While sports can be viewed from the comfort of our homes today (not to speak of smart phones and tablets), in the first half of the 1900s, film could only be viewed in cinemas. Any film that we view in this class from 1960 or earlier can be assumed to have been viewable in cinemas only in Ireland. Short sports films and news reports would have been shown before the main film in the cinema the same way previews are shown today.
Journal Article Notes:
Crosson, Seán. “’Ar son an Náisiúin’: The National Film Institute of Ireland’s All-Ireland Films.” Éire-Ireland, vol. 48, no. 1&2, 2013, pp. 191-210.
Please read this article named jornal article . Note a few terms with which you may not be familiar.
All-Ireland = annual national senior championship of football and hurling
Gaelic Sports = these are sports considered part of the Irish heritage and native to the island of Ireland
Gaelic Football = appears to be a mixture of soccer and rugby played with a round ball. Points are scored for both putting the ball in the goal and over the bar. This sport can be simply referred to as football. It is played by both men and women.
Hurling = played with a hurling stick and small hard ball. Scoring is similar to Gaelic Football. Both men and women play this sport. While the version for boys/men is simply called hurling, the version for girls/women is called camogie.
Taoiseach = Irish Prime Minister.
Teilifís = TV
Sports link film: Sports Films from the Cinema
The earliest films in the 1940s were of sporting events. Ireland, a small country, did not participate officially in World War II, but did have large numbers of citizens who fought under the British and American flags. Efforts in the recently independent Ireland were still greatly focussed on developing a national identity. In addition to the Irish language, Irish sports, especially Gaelic football and hurling, were promoted as well as Irish dance and theatre. We don’t have access to any of the Irish sports films in the Irish language, but we share with you here films beginning in 1959 with the series Amharc Éireann which was a form of newsreel that appeared in theatres throughout Ireland prior to the feature film. Note that the subtitles here have been recently added. The subtitles did not exist when released in cinemas.
Sports Programs on TV – Early Years
Here is an example of a TV sports match in the Irish language prior to the establishment of a dedicated Irish language TV station (sorry no subtitles). Kildare v Down All Ireland Minor Football Semi-Final 1987 – 16 minute highlights. Note that not only the commentary, but also all the text on the screen is in the Irish language. This is in contrast to the previous black and white video that you saw which included title cards in English. The tradition from 1961 to 1996 was to show the minor championship in the Irish language and the senior championship in the English language both on the national TV service. Native English speakers could enjoy listening to the Irish or just turn down the sound on the TV and turn up the radio to an English language broadcast. Likewise those who preferred to hear the senior match in the Irish language could listen to the commentary in Irish on Raidió na Gaeltachta (national Irish language radio station) from 1972 on. There are two other language items that are notable in this video. All of the players in the match are referred to by the Irish language version of their names, regardless if their legal name is English, Irish, or any other heritage. Also coaches and players interviewed use the language they are most comfortable with. This is true today as well.
For 25 years now, Ireland has a dedicated Irish language TV station. We now can see a wide variety of sports through the Irish language. We not only see sports associated with the Irish culture, but sports like rugby and cycling that are associated often with England and France, to cite two examples. Additionally, we now see reality shows related to sports, documentaries of sport heros, and sport-themed game shows. You can view sports in the Irish language at http://www.tg4.ie . Click on the “TG4 Player.” Note that for Gaelic football and hurling now both the commentary and screen text is in Irish, but the names of the players are not translated into Irish, but read out as is. The commentary is in native colloquial Irish language and not some official standard cautiously read out. In this sample link, you will see a summary of the day’s events for the Tour de France this past Saturday, Day 1. Note that the video feed is in French, so the text on screen is usually in French. But the commentary is completed by native Irish-speaking commentators. It appears that there is no subtitling available, sorry.
Part B: Introduction to Music in Film
One area that has always been showcased on Irish film has been the music of Ireland. Any Irish musician, regardless of his or her first language is likely to have Irish-language songs in his/her repertoire. Since the Irish language goes back further than English in Ireland, the older songs would often be in Irish only. However, many new songs continue to be written in the Irish language. Today we sample the rich repertoire of Irish music showcased on film in Ireland and internationally. One of the main reason that I see students wanting to learn Irish in NYC is because of their love for Irish music.
TG4 Music Series
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Sample of the series Geantraí (TG4)
Geantraí is filmed in a pub in the eastern city of Dublin (capital of the Republic of Ireland), an English-speaking city. However, some of the singers are from the Gaeltacht, with the first two native Irish-speakers from the northwest, County Donegal. This show (which is not wide-screen) is from 2001. However, the subtitles are not burnt into the film. You need to turn them on in the bottom right.
Sample of the series Sean-Nós (TG4)
Here is a resent sample of a studio 30-minute show from TG4. Turn on the subtitles in the bottom right corner (headphone symbol). You do not need to view the whole program. You can just get a feel for it by sampling the program. The presenter is Síle Denvir who visited Lehman College in February 2020 just before the pandemic hit. She presented lectures and singing for students at Lehman College and the Graduate Center.
Music Clips from Full-length Films
From the very first film in Irish, Oidhche Sheanchais, we recall Maggie Dirrane singing a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) a sean-nós song in the Irish language. Here are a few clips of readily available songs that appeared in full-length films recently. Regardless of whether the films were in Irish, French, or English, the songs were retained in Irish.
Áine Ní Dhroighneáin singing Amhrán Mhaínse : Cré na Cille (Graveyard Clay) Irish Language
Áine Ní Dhroighneáin singing ‘Amhrán Mhaínse’ from the Irish Language film Cré na Cille (2007: Graveyard Clay). The full-length film was directed Robert Quinn. All of the actors were native Irish speakers from West Galway as was the author of the 1949 novel by the same name considered the best novel in the Irish language.
Brooklyn 2015 – Iarla Ó Lionáird – Casadh An tSúgáin
The English language film Brooklyn (2015) included a song sung by Irish-speaking actor Iarla Ó Lionáird entitled ‘Casadh An tSúgáin’ (the turning of the rope). The film which played nation-wide in cinemas in the USA was a Canadian/UK/Irish co-production.
Song of the Sea – Amhrán Na Farraige – selkie song
From the animation studio Cartoon Saloon, the film Amhrán Na Farraige/Song of the Sea (2014) was released in the Irish language to cinemas in Ireland and internationally in either French or English language sound-tracks. The lullaby track here was retained in the Irish language in all versions. If you are interested in a translation see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81sigNx8prU
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