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An Pluiméir Ceolmhar Lyr Req: Wexford Carol (in Irish) (39) RE: Lyr Req: Irish Language Wexford Carol 28 Nov 03


Just spotted your second post, Philippa, which largely pre-empts anything that I might have started on the other thread, so we may as well continue the discussion here, and posterity and search engines be damned.

I checked out the two transcriptions of "Don oíche úd" that you kindly pointed me towards, and the choirmaster is quite interested in including it in the repertoire for next year. He would even contemplate doing a four-part arrangement if we can't find an off-the-peg one. He's British (nobody's perfect) but he seems to be sensitive to modal music (I hadn't even noticed the absence of a key signature!), so we might be able to come up with something. If we do, I'll certainly make it available here. First I would need to resolve the differences between the two transcriptions and relate the notes closely to the words. I would also need to do a phonetic transcription.

BTW, the token Irish piece that the Christmas choir has been using is a truncated version of "Bí a Íosa", translated into English. A similar scratch choir from the Irish community in Brussels has performed the Irish version of it a number of times for the annual St Patrick's Day Mass in the Irish Franciscan College in Louvain over the years, and we have also done "Dia do Bheatha" there.

The remainder of the College, including the chapel with its magical acoustics (even we sound good there!) has just been leased to the Irish Government, and the Board of Works will carry out restoration work before making it available to the Irish Institute, now known as "The Louvain Institute - Ireland in Europe", which already occupies most of the old seminary buildings. The chapel will become a conference hall, but the lease apparently stipulates that it will be available for activities of the Irish community in Belgium. I don't know if the annual Mass will survive, and either way it won't be quite the same with the friars gone from the College and the Irish community now much less cohesive than it was when I moved here in 1989.

In one of those odd quirks of history, the chapel has up in recent years been used for an almost clandestine weekly Mass in French on Saturday evenings: the bitterness over the Belgian language question was once so bitter in the town that is now called by its Flemish name, Leuven, that it is now illegal to celebrate a public Mass in French there, so it has to be said behind closed doors. I have some understanding of the viewpoints of both sides, but that doesn't strike me as a very Christian outcome.

While we're at it, do you know if anyone ever produced a history of the Irish presence in Louvain? It seems like a worthwhile undertaking, and if there isn't one, maybe we could suggest that the OPW commission one.


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