This is the website of the band Gan Ainm and presents the album O'Rathaille's Grave. If you only have time for a quick browse, Gan Ainm recommend tracks 9, 10 and 13 as good examples. If you like them please listen to the rest, read the notes, enjoy and share with your friends. This is the basic site for slow connections. For the flash site go here.


By the end of the 17th century, the province of Munster in South-West Ireland had been devastated by successive wars - The Desmond Rebellions of 1569-73 and 1579-83; the first Munster Plantation in 1586; the second Munster Plantation in 1603; the Nine Years War from 1594 to 1603 and by the Cromwell campaign of 1649 to1652.

It was into this war-torn landscape in the village of Screathan an Mhil (Scrahanaveal) that Aodhagán O'Rathaille was born in 1670. His father died when Aodhagán was still young leaving his mother in good circumstances. Under the stress of the situation, his mother relinquished their property and they then moved to Cnoc an Chorrfhiaidh (Stagmount) where Aodhagán lived for a considerable time under the chiefdom of the MacCarthys. It was likely here that Aodhagán was trained in the bardic arts. Despite acquiring an excellent education in the bardic school of the Egan family (ollamhs* to the MacCarthy Mrs) and being widely recognised as one of the elite ollamhs of his time, Aodhagán lived through a time of major political and social upheaveal in Ireland which was ultimately to result in the abandonment of the Irish language and the death of the bardic tradition which had been the repository of the music, history and poetry of the native Irish for centuries. The changes in Irish society directly impacted Aodhagán O'Rathaille's life and resulted in his social status being reduced from that of a respected ollamh to a destitute pauper. This horrendous transition (a microscosm of the wider social changes happening throughout the country) was a source of huge bitterness to Aodhagán and it was this pathos that drove him to pen much of his poetry.

This album explores the life of Aodhagán O'Rathaille through his own poetry and through a mixture of traditional and modern Irish and Scotish music.

* In Irish, an Ollamh, is a master in a particular trade or skill. In early Irish Literature it generally refers to the highest rank of Fili. A fili was a member of an elite class of poets in Ireland.

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© Gan Ainm 2008

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