ITMA to have 'A Grand Time' in Newfoundland

‘A Grand Time: The songs, music, and dance of Newfoundland’s Cape Shore’ is ITMA’s newest digital resource. This freely accessible website makes available for the first time more than 60 historic audio recordings of songs, stories, and music recorded by Irish-Canadian broadcaster Aidan O’Hara during the 1970s. With the support of Culture Ireland and local partners in Newfoundland, ITMA is unveiling the project at a series of events scheduled for 1–4 August 2018.

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A time (aka, kitchen party) at the Roche's house, Branch, St Mary's Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. Left to right: Debbie Careen, Rita Roche, Henry Nash & Audrey Roche (Photo: Aidan O'Hara, used with permission).

In 1993, Aidan O’Hara donated a collection of more than 130 reels and cassettes to the Irish Traditional Music Archive, the majority of which he recorded between 1974 and 1978 while resident in Newfoundland. Scheduled to launch on 1 August 2018, ‘A Grand Time’ brings together some of the best recordings from this collection with images and stories that were generously been shared by community and family members. ITMA is using digital technologies to return this very special collection of recordings to originating communities, and promote awareness of evolving diasporic traditions in Ireland.

‘A Grand Time’ celebrates Newfoundland’s unique song, music, and dance traditions, while observing strong connections to Ireland. It also pays tribute to 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Aidan O’Hara for his remarkable work in documenting, preserving, and promoting Newfoundland-Irish cultural traditions.

ITMA is working with partners in Newfoundland to present three events that unveil and celebrate the homecoming of this significant collection of songs and stories. 

  • A Grand Time in Branch, Wednesday, 1 August 2018. A community celebration of the songs, music, and dance of the Cape Shore. Listen to historic recordings, swap songs, and visit with Aidan and Joyce O’Hara, as well as the ITMA team.
  • A Grand Time at The Rooms, Thursday, 2 August 2018. Learn about ITMA and the process of preparing this online exhibition. The ITMA team will be joined by a few singers from the Cape Shore (including Eta Nash, Vince Roche, and Eugene Mooney), as well as poet and playwright Agnes Walsh.
  • A Grand Time at NL Folk Festival, Saturday, 4 August 2018. Aidan O’Hara’s integral involvement in setting up NL Folk Festival during the 1970s makes this a fitting final event for a week of celebrations. Singer Anita Best will host a workshop featuring, among others, Carolann and Juanita Lyver, Vince Roche, and Eugene Mooney.

In his role as Chairman of the Newfoundland Folk Festival in 1978, Aidan O’Hara demonstrated the qualities that ITMA seeks to echo in ‘A Grand Time’ and related launch events:

Our older musicians and singers are all too much neglected in this modern world of pop culture and mass entertainment. Let them know how much we appreciate them and thus assure that for us and them ‘the old ways’ are not dead and gone … My suggestion now is that everyone ‘let ‘er go’ and have a good ‘time’!
– Aidan O’Hara, Chairman of the Newfoundland Folk Festival, 1978

Aidan and Joyce O’Hara will be joined by several members of the ITMA staff on a week-long tour of the Cape Shore and St John’s, including ITMA Director Grace Toland, Project coordinator Rebecca Draisey-Collishaw, and Field Recordings Officer Brian Doyle.