St Stephen's Day TV programme salutes Cork musical legend

A tv programme dedicated to Seán Ó Riada airs on St Stephen’s Day on TG4 at 9.20pm
St Stephen's Day TV programme salutes Cork musical legend

LERGACY: The children of Seán and Ruth Ó Riada talk about their family in An Saol ó Dheas on Raidio na Gaeltachta

FIFTY years after his death, Cork musical legend Sean Ó Riada remains an influential, inspiring and enigmatic figure.

In Seán Ó Riada - Mo Sheanathair on St Stephen’s Day on TG4 at 9.20pm, his granddaughter Doireann Ní Ghlacáin resolves to find out more about this divisive and iconic figure.

By charting her grandfather’s life and times, she aims to uncover the true Ó Riada, in a moving tribute to this giant of Irish cultural life.

The programme features performances by Iarla Ó Lionaird, Barry Douglas, Nell Ní Chróinín, Cór Chúil Aodha and Peadar Ó Riada, as well as interviews with contemporaries and family.

A seminal feature length documentary, it aims to give an intimate portrayal of Ó Riada like never before.

Born in Cork in 1931, Ó Riaia was a composer and arranger of Irish traditional music who became the single most influential figure in the revival of Irish traditional music during the 1960s. He died in October, 1971, aged just 40.

Meanwhile, a special edition of radio series An Saol ó Dheas on Raidio na Gaeltachta on Monday, December 27 at 12.08pm features an interview with Seán and Ruth Ó Riada’s seven children – Peadar, Eoghan, Ally, Rachel, Sorcha, Cathal and Liadh.

The world knows Ó Riada as a gifted composer, arranger and musician, but this programme will explore his children’s memories of him as a father, and their family life before and after the death of their father in 1972, and their mother Ruth, who died just six years later.



Still on a traditional music theme, and The Flourishing on RTÉ1 on Thursday, December 30 at 6.30pm, is an hour-long arts documentary, which begins in the 1950s, a landmark era for the revival of Irish traditional and folk music, and takes us on an intriguing journey to the present day, when it’s hard to believe the future of this musical genre was ever in doubt.

Performances, archive and expert contributions are weaved together with personal accounts from the key players, as we track the transformation of a wavering musical genre into one which is performed and celebrated around the world.

The Flourishing will feature the work and voices of this most important generation – among them Paul Brady, Mary Black, Finbar Furey, Paddy Glackin, Andy Irvine, Tríona Ní Domhnaill, Mary O’Hara and Mary Bergin – as we discover how they re-energised the tradition and created new soundscapes that changed the course of Irish folk music.



Moving on a few decades, and How Ireland Rocked The 70s on RTÉ1 on Tuesday, December 28 at 6.30pm looks at the evolution of the festival circuit in Ireland in the 1970s, a decade in which rock music – national and global – began to take root here.

Against a back-drop of political instability, the greater penetration of popular culture into Ireland saw, by the end of the 1970s, the development of a national scene and the emergence of a golden generation of local bands primed for export.

In 1970, Richmond Park in Inchicore, Dublin, hosted Ireland’s first ever outdoor rock music festival. An audience of 1,500 paid to see a one-night bill headlined by Mungo Jerry and also featuring a handful of emerging Irish ‘beat groups’, a nascent Thin Lizzy among them. Run by a group of enthusiastic amateurs, the event was a commercial disaster.

But by the end of the decade, following examples set in the U.S. and in Britain, a handful of other rock music festivals had taken place across Ireland, most notably at Dalymount Park in Dublin, Macroom, Co. Cork, Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. and Carnsore Point in Co. Wexford.

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