Séamus Ó Beaglaoich 1949‑2023

Tá comhluadar ceoil na tíre faoi scamall an bhróin agus Séamus Ó Beaglaoich, 73, imithe ar Shlí na Fírinne. Bhí Séamus ar dhuine de na mórcheoltóirí traidisiúnta agus ámhránaí na linne.

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Séamus Ó Beaglaoich. Photograph: Danny Diamond

Chaith sé a shaol ar fad ina áit dhúchais, i mBaile na bPoc i nGaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne in Iarthar Chiarraí agus d’iompar sé cultúr, traidisiúin agus teanga na dúiche chun cinn ar fud na cruinne.

Ag fás aníos i dteaghlach mór ceoil, do thosnaig Séamus ag seinnt ar an mbosca mar dhéagóir agus ní fada go raibh sé ag seinnt leis an gclann i halla rince ar an Muiríoch. Ón tús do thuig sé go maith an ceangal tábhachtach atá ann idir an ceol agus an rince agus chuaigh sé i gcion ar rinceoirí seite na háite ina dhiaidh sin.

Mar cheoltóir, chuaigh boscadóraí móra na linne i bhfeidhm air cosúil le Joe Burke, Johnny O’Leary agus Finbar Dwyer. D’eisigh sé taifead iomráiteach le Gael Linn, An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe, lena dheifiúir Máire i 1973. Bhí clú ar mar amhránaí ar fud na tíre chomh maith.

Do bhain sé cáil amach go forleathan nuair a d’eisíodh an taifead ceannródaíoch Meitheal le Steve Cooney in 1992 agus bhí tóir air mar bhoscadóir agus amhránaí le grúpaí agus ceoltóirí éagsúla ó shin – Jim Murray, Tim Edey, Téada, Mary Black, Mike Scott agus The Chieftains san áireamh.

Do bhronnadh gradam Amhránaí na Bliana air ag Gradaim Cheoil TG4 in 2013.

Bhí tionchar ollmhór ag Séamus ar ré nua ceoltóirí agus éisteoiri ó Chiarraí Thiar agus i bhfad i gcéin. Ní fhéadfaí grá a bhí aige don cheol a shárú agus do roinn sé an grá san le gach uile duine a bhuail sé leis. Fós, ag 73, bhí Séamus amuigh ag seimint sa Daingean gach aon oíche le muintir a chlainne agus ár gcomhghleacaí Kyle Macaulay, ag insint scéalta, ag amhráin agus ag roinnt a stíl álainn bríomhaire ceoil atá aitheanta ar fud an domhain.

Ag labhairt ar bhás Shéamuis, dúirt Liam Ó Conchubhair, Stiúrthóir TCDÉ:

Is mór an chailliúint do phobal an ceoil é. Fear ann féin do bea é, ceoltóir, amhránaí agus fathach mór na Gaeltachta agus táim ana bhuíoch go raibh deis agam bheith i gcuideachta leis go minic agus go deimhin port a sheinnt le chéile. Chuaigh a chuid flaithiúlachta go croí ionam i gcónaí.

Is cúis mhór bróin dúinn go raibh coinne againn le Seámus taifead a dhéanamh sa Taisce i gceann coicíse chun a shaol agus a fhealsúnacht ceoil a léiriú. Go deimhin bhí cuireadh faighte aige seinnt sa Cheoláras Náisiúnta do TCDÉ lena iníon Méabh i Mí Márta.

Ar son na Taisce ba mhaith liom ár gcomhbhrón a dhéanamh lena bhean Máire, a chlann mhac Niall, Eoin agus Breanndán, a iníon Méabh, a dheartháireacha agus deirfiúracha agus a cáirde go léir. Laoch mór an ceoil ar lár.
Séamus Ó Beaglaoich 1949-2023

The Irish Traditional Music Archive is deeply saddened at the loss of Séamus Begley one of the tradition’s most significant musicians and singers.

Born in 1949 and one of nine children in a powerful musical family, Séamus spent his entire life in his native Baile na bPoc in the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht. As a musician he was to transport the unique culture, language and traditions of the area all over the world.

A farmer, he learned the accordion as a young teenager and went on to play regularly in the Begley dance hall in Muiríoch. That connection with dancing from a young age was something very important in his life and he went on to have a profound influence on the set dancers in the area.

In 1973 Gael Linn commissioned the famous recording of Séamus with his sister Máire, An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe.

His pioneering duet with guitarist Steve Cooney and their seminal recording Meitheal in 1992, catapulted Séamus onto the international stage and he went on to perform and collaborate with a host of musicians and groups like Jim Murray, Tim Edey, Téada, Mary Black, Mike Scott and The Chieftains.

Séamus was hugely encouraging to young musicians and his love of music was infectious. Up until his death he was performing nightly in Dingle playing, singing, telling stories and sharing his beautiful, compelling style of music now recognised worldwide.

Speaking about Séamus, ITMA Director Liam O’Connor said:

Seámus is a significant loss for the Irish music community in Ireland and all over the world. He was a unique personality, a wonderful singer and musician. A major figure in the Gaeltacht, the Irish language has sadly lost one of its great native speakers.

Like so many musicians and lovers of our tradition, I am so grateful to have shared his company on many occasions and to have played music with him. I was always humbled by his generosity and sense of fun.

Tragically ITMA had arranged to film and record Séamus before the end of January to capture his life in music and indeed he was booked to perform with his daughter Méabh, our colleague Kyle Macaulay and set-dancers from West Kerry at the ITMA Drawing from the Well Concert in March.

On behalf of ITMA, I would like to extend our sympathies to Séamus’ wife Máire, his sons Niall, Eoin and Breanndán, his daughter Méabh, his brothers and sisters. We have lost a giant of our music.
Séamus Begley