IMRAM IRISH LANGUAGE LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2020
AN ONLINE FESTIVAL OF MAGICAL LITERARY FILMS
‘Chanfadh m’anam de shíor de chlaochlaithe’ (‘My soul would eternally sing of changes’) - so says Ovid as rendered into Irish by poet Caitríona Ní Chléirchín in Leabhar na nAthruithe, in which IMRAM and Poetry Ireland broadcast five short films based on stories from Metamorphoses.
‘It has been a year of dramatic change and the challenges that come with that change’, says festival director Liam Carson, ‘not least of how best to deal with the challenge of staging events in the middle of a pandemic’. IMRAM has decided to invest in producing high-quality films. ‘Originally, we’d planned to stage our Ovid show in glass houses in the Botanic Gardens, but it has now been shaped anew as a shadow puppet show with visuals and music, recorded and filmed live in Smock Alley Theatre.’
‘For many Irish speakers, a visit to the Gaeltacht is an important part of the year’s calendar, a voyage made difficult in lockdown. So we’ve decided to bring the Gaeltacht into people’s living rooms’, says Carson. The Dánta Duibhneacha films celebrate the poetry and music of Corca Dhuibhne in performances recorded in the beautiful stone chapel of An Díseart, with its famed Harry Clarke stained glass windows. Cathal Póirtéir introduces musicians such as accordion player Breanndán Ó Beaglaioch (Brendan Begley) and singers Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Éilís Ní Chinnéide. The poets include Bríd Ní Mhóráin and Peadar Ó hUallaigh (winner of the 2010 Rupert and Eithne Strong award for his début collection Tír Tairngre).
The literature of the Gaeltacht is also at the heart ofMo Bhagáiste, a filmed version of a bilingual drama by Pól Ó Gallachóir based on Seosamh Mac Grianna’s seminal autiobiographical novel Mo Bhealach Féin. This is produced in association with the Museum of Literature Ireland, as is What way…what road?, a special podcast talk on the life and work of Mac Grianna by Mícheál Ó hAodha who has recently translated Mo Bhealach Féin into English as This Road of Mine, just published by Lilliput Press.
Trees and alphabets are at the heart of two themed poetry films. In The Gaelic Garden of The Dead, MacGillivray - the Highland name of the extraordinary poet, artist and singer Kirsten Norrie - takes us on a voyage into folklore in Scottish Gaelic culture. This film features MacGillivray reciting poetry in English and songs in Scottish Gaelic to musical backdrops composed and performed by Seán Mac Erlaine. Richard Berengarten’s poem Crann (Tree) is a symphonic hymn to a tree in all its aspects, drawing on its central place in the world's mythology and religion. Composer Nick Roth has created a new setting of Gabriel Rosenstock’s Irish translation of the text as a choral work for three voices, filmed in outdoor locations throughout Ireland. Crann will bring IMRAM’s online festival to a hopeful finale, a healing poem for us in a year of grief – ‘crann an ghrá, crann an chirt, bogha ceatha daonna, faoi bhláth’ (‘tree of love, tree of justice, rainbow tree, blossoming’).
Other IMRAM 2020 events include filmed versions of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies as translated into Irish by Máire Mhac an tSaoi; and interviews with poets Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Biddy Jenkison.
IMRAM Irish Language Festival runs online from Thursday 10 to Monday 21 December. Full programme details can be found at imram.ie
Liam Carson, Director, IMRAM