Friday, March 20, 2015

TŶ BACH


That Sleeve, designed by Gráinne Ghleoite
Click on any image for a larger version

I had occasion recently to search through my remaining few vinyl LPs to see if I had a copy of Téanam Ort, a first recording by a Dublin Irish language folk group called TŶ BACH. The LP was recorded in a studio in the heart of Belfast at the height of the troubles in 1974. I had got a copy because I was involved in the recording as a fiddle playing extra member of the group for the duration.

I had rehearsed with the group in the intimacy of one of their sitting rooms and still vividly remember the shock when we went into studio and were placed miles apart. This, no doubt, suited the recording crew who wanted four virgin tracks for the mix, but it didn't suit me as I couldn't relate to the rest of the group being in the next parish, so to speak. I think that arrangement took somewhat from the gusto and group sound but, nevertheless, it was an LP and as such a fairly status item in its time.


Two of the members of TŶ BACH on the Eisteddfod Field:
Gearóid on guitar and Colm on mandolin

As you might read on the record sleeve, if you had one, the group was formed after the musicians in question, Colm, Gearóid and Ken, had paid a visit to the 1973 Welsh National Eisteddfod in Ruthin in North Wales.


Gearóid & Colm again,
with third member, Ken (in red), in the background


The musicians went down a bomb both on the field and in some of the pubs around the town. The wider group of Irish who went to the Eisteddfod from Craobh Móibhí of Conradh na Gaeilge had also practiced some modern Welsh protest songs, yn Gymraeg and in part harmony, and this also made a great impression as the Welsh normally sang this class of song in unison and most of them would have been very dicey on the words beyond the first verse.


The Tracks

The tracks on the record were a mixture of traditional Irish ballads, some new protest songs and some taken from a store of modern Welsh songs.


Donnchadh Ó Súilleabháin

I can't bring up the 1973 Eisteddfod without mentioning Donnchadh Ó Súilleabháin, who, as General Secretary of Oireachtas na Gaeilge, was responsible for the Oireachtas stand (above) on the Eisteddfod field. He was also responsible for me going to Coláiste Mhuire, a fully Irish medium school, for my primary and secondary education though there was nary a word of Irish in my family.

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