Welcome to this working sabbatical blog documenting my research, reflections, experiences, and creative work. I am writing an album project which will be comprised of a series of songs about the Blasket Islands and one of the families who lived there – the Ó Cearna family. I will focus on a main character – Máirtin Ó Cearna (Martin Kearney, the 6th of 10 children born on the island to Séan Team Ó Cearna and Neilí Ní Dhálaigh). Martin was born on the Great Blasket Island in 1923 – and in 1951, at the age of 25, he left Ireland, crossed the Atlantic and made a new life in the Hungry Hill section of Springfield, Massachusetts. During my Fulbright year in Ireland (AY 2006‐2007), I was fortunate, owing to a series of chance events, to meet Martin. He, his wife Eleanor, and his son Marty and his wife were visiting relatives in the town of Dingle and the village of Dún Chaoin (Dunquin). Martin’s nephew Paud and his wife (who still live on the mainland across Blasket Sound) came along, as well, and I spent an evening talking with Martin and his American and Irish family about his difficult life on the Blaskets and his contented life in America. It was a transformative and magical event. I have had a long relationship with the Blaskets and this part of Ireland, and this project will bring together aspects of the work I did while on my Fulbright – a project that investigated issues of place and identity in Irish music and culture, how Irish traditional music is informed and transformed by other musical cultures, and regional expressions of an Irish identity – and a unique, creative expression synthesizing multiple research, travel, and cultural experiences.
Photos taken summer 2009, of Dunquin and Coumeenole Strand, on the mainland,
across the sound from the Great Blasket Island.
Click here for additional information on Corca Dhuibhne (the Dingle Peninsula) and Na Blascaodaí (the Blasket Islands).