Breandán Ó Madagáin 1932–2020

Is méala mór do Thaisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann a chloisint go bhfuair Breandán Ó Madagáin, Ollamh Emeritus le Gaeilge in Ollscoil Éireann Gaillimh agus iar-bhall de Bhord na Taisce, bás le déanaí. Bhí cónaí air i gCill Cholgáin i gCo. na Gaillimhe agus bhí sé breoite le tamall. D’fhreastail sé ar bhord bunaigh na Taisce ó 1987 go 1990, agus b’eisean a chuir Gaeilge ar ainm na Taisce.

 

Rugadh Breandán i Luimneach. Scoláire, taighdeoir, scríbhneoir agus léachtóir ab ea é a chaith an tréimhse 1966–75 ina léachtóir le Gaeilge i gColáiste na hOllscoile Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus an tréimhse 1975–97 mar Ollamh le Gaeilge in Ollscoil Éireann Gaillimh. Bhí sé ina bhall d’Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann agus ó 1995 go 2005 ina chathaoirleach ar Bhord Scoil an Léinn Cheiltigh in Institúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath. 

Mar scoláire agus mar mhúinteoir, seachas an tsuim a bhí aige i léann na Gaeilge i Luimneach agus sa cheantar máguaird, bhí dúil ar leith aige sa cheol dúchais agus go háirithe san amhránaíocht dúchais. Bhunaigh sé cúrsaí ceannródaíocha idirdhisiplíneacha san amhránaíocht in Ollscoil Éireann Gaillimh a mheall amhránaithe agus scoláirí, agus rinne sé taighde in Albain ar an amhránaíocht dúchais ansin. Bhí sé den tuairim láidir, tuairim a chuir sé i gcló go minic, go raibh an ceol lárnach i bhfilíocht na Gaeilge – idir fhilíocht shiollach na mbard, fhilíocht aiceanta na bhfilí a tháinig ina ndiaidh, agus chaointeoireacht dúchais – agus nach féidir í a thuiscint i gceart gan an ceol a chur san áireamh. Scríobh sé altanna ceannródaíocha leis ar fheidhm shóisialta na hamhránaíochta dúchais. I measc an iliomad leabhar agus altanna a chuir sé i gcló tá An Ghaeilge i Luimneach;(1974), Gnéithe den Chaointeoireacht;(1978), ‘Irish Vocal Music of Lament and Syllabic Verse’ (1981), ‘Ceol a Chanadh Eoghan Mór Ó Comhraí’ (1983), ‘Functions of Irish Song in the Nineteenth Century’ (1985), ‘Echoes of Magic in the Gaelic Song Tradition’ (1992), ‘An Ceol a Ligeann an Racht’ (1992), ‘Song for Emotional Release in Gaelic Tradition’ (1993), ‘Coibhneas na Filíochta leis an gCeol, 1700–1900’ (2000), ‘Eugene O’Curry 1794–1862: Pioneer of Irish Scholarship’ (2008). I 2005 d’fhoilsigh sé an leabhar dhá-theangach Caointe agus Seancheolta Eile / Keening and Other Old Irish Musics; ar an dlúthdhiosca a ghabhann leis tá Breandán le cloisint ag canadh.

Déanann Bord agus foireann Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann comhbhrón lena chéile Claire agus lena gclann uilig.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive greatly regrets the recent death of Breandán Ó Madagáin, Professor Emeritus of Irish in the National University of Ireland Galway and a former member of the Board of the Archive. He lived in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, and had been ill for some time. He had served on the founding board of the Archive from 1987 to 1990, and had given the Archive the Irish form of its name.

Born in Limerick, Breandán was a scholar, researcher, writer and lecturer who spent the period 1966–75 as a lecturer in Irish in University College Dublin, and the period 1975–97 as Professor of Irish in the National University of Ireland Galway. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy and from 1995 to 2005 had been the chair of the Board of the School of Celtic Studies in the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.

As a scholar and teacher, Breandán had a particular interest in Irish traditional music and especially in traditional song, and also in the study of Irish-language learning and literature in the Limerick region. He established pioneering interdisciplinary university courses in Irish traditional song in Galway which attracted singers and scholars, and carried out research in Scotland on traditional singing there. It was his firm opinion, frequently expressed in print, that music is central to Irish-language poetry – the syllabic poetry of the bards, the stressed poetry of the poets who followed them, and traditional keens – and that the poetry cannot be fully understood without taking music into consideration. He was a pioneer also in writing on the social functions of traditional song. Among his many books and articles are An Ghaeilge i Luimneach (1974), Gnéithe den Chaointeoireacht (1978), ‘Irish Vocal Music of Lament and Syllabic Verse’ (1981), ‘Ceol a Chanadh Eoghan Mór Ó Comhraí’ (1983), ‘Functions of Irish Song in the Nineteenth Century’ (1985), ‘Echoes of Magic in the Gaelic Song Tradition’ (1992), ‘An Ceol a Ligeann an Racht’ (1992), ‘Song for Emotional Release in Gaelic Tradition’ (1993), ‘Coibhneas na Filíochta leis an gCeol, 1700–1900’ (2000), ‘Eugene O’Curry 1794–1862: Pioneer of Irish Scholarship’ (2008). In 2005 he published the bilingual book Caointe agus Seancheolta Eile / Keening and Other Old Irish Musics; on the accompanying CD Breandán can be heard singing. 

The Board and staff of the Archive extend their sympathy to Breandán’s wife Claire and to all their family.