An Claisceadal Leaflets

Claisceadal leaflets

About 1940 Colm Ó Lochlainn began the publication in Dublin of an undated series of penny Irish-language songsheets entitled An Claisceadal (‘choral singing’).

[tune titles listed below on left]

By 1941 eighteen numbers had been published, produced by his Three Candles Press, and the series continued into the 1940s until it ended with the publication of sheet number 36.  The entire series is reproduced as scorch files below, and as a facsimile here.

These sheets were the latest manifestation of a number of influential Irish-language song publications by Colm Ó Lochlainn which bear the title of An Claisceadal. This was originally the name of an informal choral group of Irish-language enthusiasts which had been brought together in Dublin in 1928 by Ó Lochlainn and by Fionán Mac Coluim, a Gaelic League organiser from Kerry. The singers were accompanied on piano by a Sligo music student Michael Bowles (Mícheál Ó Baoighill), later director of music on Radio Éireann and conductor of the National Orchestra of New Zealand. In the early 1930s Ó Lochlainn began publishing a series of booklets of song texts sung by the group. These were taken up enthusiastically by Gaelic League branches, and the songs they contain became generally popular and widely sung

Colm Ó Lochlainn was a polymath: a Dublin printer, type designer and publisher, a political activist, an Irish scholar and Irish-language enthusiast, an editor of publications and journals, a singer and musician. For more on Ó Lochlainn see below.

Colm Ó Lochlainn’s Irish-language songsheet series was clearly modelled on the old tradition of cheap printed street ballads. In contrast to street balladsheets, the Claisceadal sheets are printed on strong paper and on both sides – usually carrying two songs per sheet – and they also give the melody for each song, in staff notation. Each sheet was relatively small (12 x 19 cm). The sixty-nine songs of the series, some of them collected by Ó Lochlainn himself, are from the then living traditions of the gaeltachtaí (Irish-speaking districts), notably those of Conamara, Mayo and Munster. They are mostly light cheerful songs (‘amhráin mheidhreacha’): lullabies, dandling and other children’s songs, spinning and other work songs, and love songs. The melodies are strong and regular, and many are also dance tunes. Some of the music notations seem to be in the hand of the famous traditional musician, singer and music collector Séamus Ennis, who worked for Ó Lochlainn in the years about 1940. For facsimile reproductions of these songsheets, and more information on Colm Ó Lochlainn click here.

NC, TH & JS, 19 June 2013

Tunes in this collection