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The internet proves to be a treasure trove for fans of Traditional music

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Kieran Hanrahan presents Ceili House on RTÉ Radio 1. 


There is no time like the start of the New Year to remind you of the wealth of treasures in the traditional music realm that await the ardent fans who follow online.

In particular, the holidays brought some new and older programs online that delve into the magic and the craic that goes along with the celebration of the native music of Ireland.  From the culturally minded folks at RTE and TG4 (the Irish language television outlet) we are being treated to some excellent programs right now.

A year ago, TG4 first broadcast an excellent documentary, John Doherty – AR Leirg na Gaoithe, narrated by Ciaran O Maonaigh from Gweedore. They rebroadcast it again this year which was especially relevant given the closure of the Frankie Kennedy Winter School.

Johnny Doherty is a most revered name among the many who emanated from Donegal whose influence has spread far and wide wherever Irish music is admired.

You can see it for yourself at the TG4 Player under its music offerings along with the popular Geantrai na Nollaig aired on New Year’s Eve which recalled the iconic 50-year history of the Dubliners brought to an end with the death of the last of the originals, Barney McKenna, in 2013.

There is much more there to sample and enjoy at the TG4.ie website on demand, and fair play to TG4 for making traditional Irish music and dance programs an important part of their overall programming.

There are those who complain that Ireland’s main broadcasting service RTE (radio and television) don’t pay enough attention to traditional music and dance given the huge numbers of people involved in it around Ireland.

I wouldn’t argue with that contention, but I must give credit where credit is due when the powers that be do commit resources to support programs like Ceili House and The Rolling Wave on RTE1 radio and Come West Along the Road on RTE1 television on an ongoing basis which are important in preserving and promoting that aspect of our Irish heritage.

For a number of years in conjunction with Forefront Productions and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, RTE has presented a series of television shows highlighting the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann from the most recent host town or city for the massive annual festival.

In past years the series aired later in the year, usually around Easter, but was moved forward to the winter months. The initial program was aired last Friday on RTE 1 and will follow for five more weeks sampling the highlights of one of the largest festivals in Ireland.

Since the Fleadh was held over the border in Northern Ireland for the first time in the City of Derry and was reported to have attracted over 400,000 visitors during a 10-day span that coincided with 2013 celebration of Derry as the U.K. City of Culture, the footage takes on added significance as narrated by the usual hosts John Creedon and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin.

Appearing on the very first program were a group of New Yorkers who appeared under the name of the Martin Mulvihill Branch led by Margie Mulvihill of Pearl River, who just happened to have received a Bardic Award for her Trojan efforts on behalf of Irish music as a performer and teacher at the Derry Fleadh.

Each individual show runs about 24 minutes and they are archived for 21 days after the initial airing, so you can view it at your leisure via the RTE Player service at rte.ie.

And not to be outdone, RTE Radio 1 continues to preserve the fierce frolics associated with the house dances of a bygone era by taking us to the Ashbourne, Co. Meath home of Bernie and Antoin MacGabhann on the first Saturday of the new year for a live broadcast on Ceili House presented by Kieran Hanrahan and produced by Peter Brown.

The well-worn path to the family home where Irish music and dance is lovingly protected and practiced non-stop goes back to the days when Bernie’s Murphy relations brought the custom up from County Clare to Dublin.  The amiable home is turned inside out as the MacGabhanns welcome family, friends and visitors in great numbers to annual affair.

You can be a special guest by visiting the www.rte.ie /radio1/ceilihouse website at your leisure.  The only drawback to radio is that you can’t see the sparks on the floor but you can be sure the feet are flying to the always powerful music organized by Antoin.

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