Hymany Feis at Caltra
Gaelic League and Politics
(Specially contributed to the East Galway Democrat)
The Feis will be conducted upon purely non-political lines, avoiding politics, but desiring to include all classes of politicians, to saturate all with a love for Ireland, its Language, its Music, Literature and Traditions, as the natural foundation of a future Irish Nation
The Hymany Feis will be held at Caltra on Saturday the 16th, and Sunday, the 17th inst.
The village of Caltra is situated in the midst of that portion of the ancient territory of the O’Kelly’s of Hymany, in the County Galway, and the Feis is open to the whole of the Hymany country.
The programme is varied and extensive. On Saturday the literary competition in Language and History for the pupils of National Schools will be held in two large marquees specially secured for the occasion.
On Sunday the competitions for native speakers in Language, Folklore and Story-telling will take place, as also numerous competitions in singing Irish and Anglo-Irish Songs, Dancing, Lilting, Whistling, Violin, Flute, and Irish Pipes. Over two hundred entries have been received, and the Committee now feel assured that the Feis will be a great success.
The most competent adjudicators- themselves the best exponents of Irish traditional Singing and Dancing- have been secured and have offered their services for the Irish Concert, which will be held in the large marquee on Sunday evening. Several plays have also been prepared for the evening entertainment, and nothing seems to have been left undone to make the event a memorable one in Hymany.
We are assured that hundreds of Gaels who understand the significance of the language movement will wend their way to Caltra on Sunday next with something of the spirit in which their great progenitors- the famous Teige Mor O’Ceallay mobilised the clanns for the battle of Clontarf, in which Teige and his Hymany followers won undying glory and achieved so much for faith and Fatherland. We have lost much ground in Hymany since the Battle of Clontarf. But the cause of Irish Nationality is still dear to the hearts of its people.
The old language in which Teige stirred the hearts of his people to sacrifice all things for the good old cause is not so vigorous as of old. Many of the old traditions have gone with the language-the old songs and old stories relating the deeds of famous heroes long since departed, and stirring the hearts of the listeners to emulate their deeds of glory and renown, the sweet old tunes of harp and bag-pipe which at the close of day made every labour light and every burden easy and made every Irishman feel that to him all events in Ireland was a place worth living in, worth fighting for as well, the dearest place in all God’s earth-
“Tho round her Indian bowers
The hand of Nature showers
Yet not the richest rose
In an alien clime that blows,
Like the briar at home that grows is dear”
It is to revive the ancient language of Ireland, and with it the glorious traditions that is the aim and object of the Gaelic League. Is there an Irishman anywhere who will refuse to join with the Gaelic League in attaining this praiseworthy object? In this whirlpool of political dissension it is sometimes stated that the Gaelic League has become the political movement of an extreme section in Irish politics. Such criticism as a rule comes from those outside the Gaelic League, from those who have never been active workers in the language movement. Those who have been working the language movement for years may answer them that they have never seen politics or religion introduced into the Gaelic League meetings such as the Ard Feis, the Coiste Gnotha or Feiseanna, or at Local Branch meetings, and that on those occasions there is always quite enough work to do to further the interests of the language.
It may be said, however, as I have heard it said recently by people who have not seen the inner working of the Gaelic League that now at all events the Gaelic League has proved itself a purely political movement since Eoin MacNeil has been appointed President at the recent Ard Feis. There could be no greater fallacy. Was there ever a worker in the language movement more entitled to this honour on his own merits than Eoin MacNeil? Why, the League itself with its non-political constitution the Oireacthas, the Ard Feis, the Craobhaca is for the most part the product of Eoin MacNeil’s resourceful brain.
When the presidency of the Gaelic League became vacant there was nothing more fitting than that their old revered vice President should be honoured with the Presidency. Similarly are we who worked side by side with the gentle, kind and loving P.H. Pearse to forget his unceasing labours in the language movement and cease to honour him even to prove that the Gaelic League is a purely non-political body. As an humble worker in the language movement for the past 15 years, I can never forget the noble ideals and high spirituality of P.H. Pearse. His memory must ever be a source of inspiration to all who have worked with him.
The programme of the Caltra Feis explains its non-political attitude when it states-
“The Feis will be conducted upon purely non-political lines, avoiding politics, but desiring to include all classes of politicians, to saturate all with a love for Ireland, its Language, its Music, Literature and Traditions, as the natural foundation of a future Irish Nation.”
Our motto “Gan Teanga, Gan tir.” No Language, no Country, no Nation.”
VERY SUCCESSFUL EVENT
The Hymany Feis came off in Caltra on Saturday and Sunday last. The competitions for pupils of National Schools in Irish Language and History were held on Saturday. There were 250 in this section alone, and the competition was so keen that in practically all classes the judges had to divide the prizes, and award prizes to almost all the competitors. Mr. Philip Maldran and Mr. Darcy, Ballinasloe, were the adjudicators in this section.
The great majority of the competitors came from Castleblakeney, Caltra, and Kilasolan Schools, and their answering in Irish Language and Irish History, as well as their singing and dancing, showed that the teachers of these schools must have worked with the greatest energy and enthusiasm for many months previous to the Feis.
The congratulations that were offered to the teachers by the adjudicators, by the committee, and the general public were but a fitting tribute to them, for their successful efforts in imparting a truly National education to the children under their charge.
On Sunday the competitions for native speakers, pupils of evening schools, and competitions in Singing, Dancing, Flute, Fiddle and Bag-pipes came off in the large marquee, which was filled with people. The Feis began about 1.30, and went on without interruption until 6.30, and during all that time about four hundred people were enthused and delighted to their hearts’ content with the most enjoyable feast of Irish music, song and dance they ever experienced.
After an interval of an hour and a half- during which time the Temperance Tent kindly lent for the occasion by Lady Sophie Grattan-Bellew, was patronised by competitors and visitors- the Concert and distribution of prizes commenced. The prizes were distributed by Deora Froinseacht, member of the Executive of the Gaelic League.
The Concert was well attended, every seat in the marquee was occupied, and fully 400 people were present. The Dublin visitors were the great attraction. The singing of Seaghan MacGabhan particularly excited the greatest delight and enthusiasm. He had to appear on four different occasions. His singing will not easily be forgotten by those who had the pleasure of hearing him. Colum O’Lochlarinn, Dublin also made a very pleasant impression on the audience by his sweet singing of his well-selected songs. It was also a rare treat to witness such a splendid exhibition of dancing as was given by Prionsas O’Sulleatbaen, when he danced an Irish hornpipe and reel. Miss A. Keogh, Ahascragh, also made a favourable impression on the audience, as did also Michael Tully, of Moylough- some local artistes and the principal prize winners in singing and dancing at the Feis.
A most enjoyable feature of the evening was the famous Abbey Theatre Play by Lady Gregory, entitled “The Rising of the Moon.” Messrs Barry, Crosby and Kilcommins acted the little play in grand style, and elicited the greatest applause from the large audience.
Notwithstanding the inclement weather the Committee are delighted to state that the Feis was a financial success beyond their highest expectations, and feel that they have by their efforts achieved much for the good cause of Tir Teanga and Creideamh.
The following is the list of the prize-winners in different sections:-
Language and History- S. Meehan, D. Dalton, M. McElwaine, B. Gavin, S. Keating, N. Meehan, B. Coffey, A. Higgins, C. Dalton, M.G. Kelly, Mary Tierney, Nora Kilalea, B. McLoughlin, G. McElwaine, M. Kelly, E. Donoghue, R. McLoughlin, Nora Sweeney, A. Mannion, B. Meehan, R. Carroll, J. Barrett, G. Dalton, K. Crosby, K. Higgins, M. Ryan, K. Coakley, M. McLoughlin, Lily Ryan, Sheela Conneeny, K. Sweeney, E. Ryan, A. McElwaine, Mary Gavin, P. Jennings, J. Clarke, J. O’Neil, J. Crosby, L. O’Neil, P. Kilcommins, M.E. Sweeney, Mary Crehan, P. Heavy, J. Heavy, Annie Keogh, P. Crosby, M. Tully, Jas. Doyle, W. Gilmore, Thomas Connolly, Joseph Tyrrell, Ciss Kilcommins, and Miss Gilmore.
From East Galway Democrat, 16 & 23 September 1916