The Irish Itinerary is an Irish cultural tour of Europe. This initiative of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) started in 2013 with the first Irish Itinerary.Read more Discover Circuits
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"Winter sun in Nijmegen, snow and ice in Brussels and Leuven, blizzards in Kortrijk but the weather paled into the background. What I'll remember is the brightness and curiosity of the students I met, who made me think about my work in a new way; Hedwig Schwall's irrepressible energy; the exquisite beauty of Leuven; the warm welcome at the Irish College and the famine soup recipe courtesy of Chris Cusack, one of my hosts at Radboud Univeristy Nijmegen."
“Lillis O Laoire came to sing at the University of Rennes 2 on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015.
The event was co-organized by Efacis and the Centre of Breton and Celtic Research of Rennes 2.
The venue was carefully chosen and very appropriate, in a room especially designed for singing, at the Music Department of Rennes 2.
The acoustics were therefore very good, Lillis appreciated this and he sang for nearly an hour and a half with short comments in English about each of the songs. The attendance was a nice mix of around sixty people, students and lecturers alike, mostly from the departments of Celtic (including some students of Irish), English (Irish studies stream) and Music. They were both very attentive during the performance and enthusiastic after it : Lillis's voice literally worked wonders. The performance was recorded and filmed, with Lillis's agreement, by a colleague from the Centre de Formation des Musiciens Intervenants of Rennes 2. The rest of the evening went on very smoothly, with five of us from Rennes 2 (including our Irish language tutor, who happened to be an ex student of his) having dinner with Lillis in a restaurant in town, after which he even gratified us with one last going-away song. A great evening indeed, magic !”
Glenn Patterson’s reading demonstrated to the audience not only that he is a brilliant writer, but also that he is a great performer interacting with and thus involving his audience. His informative and highly enjoyable talk progressed through humorous digressions. At times it was also creatively improvised, as he engaged with the background images, the covers of his novels and Belfast landmarks, key motifs in his two most recent novels. The way he spoke about Belfast, its history and its present, was inspiring; the way he allowed the audience glimpses into the writing process as well as his writerly habits and rituals was intriguing; and the way he spoke about his personal and creative interest in Hungary was fascinating for his Hungarian audience. His reading of passages from his novels – Number 5 and The Rest Just Follows – as well as a journalistic piece about food and writing, prompted by our talks the previous day, was perfectly paced and brilliantly dramatised. It was also thrilling for me personally to listen to his reading of the opening of Fat Lad and then have the chance to read out my translation of the passage in his presence.
The event was a huge success. The local hosts are very grateful to EFACIS and the organisers of the Irish Itinerary for all their work and for securing funds to sponsor this event.
The Trilingual Poetry Night was fascinating because it was the first time I got to enjoy the same poem in three different languages, recited and spoken, which is a great difference. Even though I do not understand Irish Gaelic, (and initially when spoken it sounded like Hebrew, due throaty vocalizations and abundance of consonants) I could keep up with where the poem was because of the rhythm. This was another boon of the night, over just reading out the three different versions – in recital, thanks to the good translations, the bounce and rhythm of the poems were similar enough, so one could recognize them as the same.
I was surprised when Gearóid MacLochlainn prefaced some of his poems with current political events that are relevant here or some general parallels between the original topic of the poetry and Hungarian matters. However, he did not let that tone dominate completely, and knew how to balance it well (such as the poem about the room that was political yet comic) between serious and entertaining. The poem about the curse was a great example of this.
The live music was well done and refreshing and it gave the whole night a nice pace. While even to the most astute audiences, listening to recited poetry over a long period of time can become tiring, here that problem did not appear as the audience could relax and just enjoy the music between segments. (Molnár Gergely, MA student, University of Debrecen)
First, I must confess that I have never been to a poetry recital event before this one, but even if I had been, I feel like this still would have been a wholly new experience. The Hungarian students set the stage and atmosphere nicely, but my favourite part was, without a doubt, the second half. For me, the most striking feature of Gearóid Mac Lochlainn's poetry is that it is truly a performance: musical without any actual music. The words and sound blended together, and often I found his poems to resemble some mantra or meditated inner monologue. The poetic devices really made the poems live: onomatopoeic words, alliterations, metaphors, repetition all made the poems easy on the ear. Often he also operated with puns and both English and Irish words that rhyme. I found the mixing of the two languages to be a powerful tool: it often emphasized a message, gave an additional layer of meaning, or drove the point of the poem home. Despite the poems being seemingly simple, they embody so much. They speak of oppression, the slow withering of a language, political turmoil and social problems. At the same time, they celebrate the Irish language and contribute to its survival. The music provided by the band accompanied the poems well, and transported us to an an Irish town. All in all, I enjoyed the evening a lot: I feel like I learned something more about Ireland through Gearóid Mac Lochlainn's poems. (Bajzát Krisztina, BA student, University of Debrecen)
I had two slight concerns prior to the night. I was somewhat worried that the performers would take themselves too seriously, giving the event an air of self-importance and pretension, and I was also wondering whether a real sense of Irishness (whatever that is) could be conveyed without pandering to the audience’s preconceived, clichéd notions of what an authentic Irish experience should be like. To my pleasure, both of these worries turned out to be completely unfounded – the whole night was pervaded by an atmosphere of playful self-deprecation and irony (opening and main act included) and one could really get a compacted overview of Ireland as such through Gearóid MacLochlainn’s performance; its history, its social and political climate and a generalized but specific worldview of its inhabitants that cannot be mistaken for anybody else’s. I also very much appreciated the musicality of the night and I do not just mean the actual musical performances. For me, MacLochlainn’s recitation of his works had an effect similar to sound poetry due to the language barrier. The general rhythm of his poetry and the seamless, sometimes almost unnoticeable transitions between the English and the Irish lines gave it a strong musical quality; after a while, I was mesmerized by these pulsating clusters of sounds with the occasional, intelligible English word emerging out of the meaningless mess of aural impressions. In short, it was a delightful experience. (Szabó Zoltán, BA student, University of Debrecen)
The Irish Itinerary night in Sikk Club united poetry and music in a special and enjoyable way. The first performance impressed me with how well-fitting the combination of music and poetry could be. The flow of the music reflected the emotions and mood of the poems, being more complex and fast as it continued and grew more and more passionate. Then, the music slowed down and went silent as the poem ended and the emotions settled down. The poems “Tongue,” “Second Tongue” and “Translations” were read out in both Irish, English and Hungarian. Each language’s tone gave different feelings to the poems. The fact that it was the writer himself who read out his poems felt special to me, as well as to be able to hear about the background of the poems, and how they were created. It made the poems seem more alive. It was a great idea to connect the poems with music, since it added a lot to their stories and made the night even more lively. My favourite poems were “Human Resources” from the beginning of the night, as it was one I could easily relate to, and “Room” because of its vibrant imagery and as it could not only be associated with Ireland, but to me, with Hungary as well. (Rácz Edina, BA student, University of Debrecen)
To be completely honest, I was always more interested in novels and short stories than poetry, therefore I was a little bit concerned that I will not necessarily enjoy the performances. Fortunately, the whole night proved me wrong and showed me that poetry is more colourful than I’ve ever felt before. Especially with some additional music.
This trilingual event started with an opening act by three Hungarian performers, who were reciting and singing some poems of their own. Imre Olivér Horváth’s performance was the most remarkable, he’s clearly born for the stage.
During the second session with our special guest, I felt even more that in the future I should attend more events like this. I loved how Gearóid MacLochlainn’s reading voice fitted for all of his poems, for me hearing poetry from the very person who wrote those poems was way more enjoyable than to read at home. From among his poems my favourites were ‘Aistriúcháin’ and ‘Room’, which were deep and humorous at the same time. I really liked how he played with his voice and how he adapted his poems for the stage. The former poem has also been translated into Hungarian for the occasion and that was the most well-done and well-performed from the three translated pieces, in my opinion.
The musical parts between the poems were fascinating and heart-warming. The band, Luan was absolutely amazing. Towards the end of the evening I felt like getting up and dancing. (Tóth Boglárka, BA student, University of Debrecen)
Personally, I love anything Irish. Irish beer, Irish music, the Irish language, and the Irish accent all fascinate me. Discovering how much Irish ancestry I have in me has only strengthened that connection I have with the culture. There are a couple of things I noticed about the music and the written word in regards to their moods and concepts. It's something we've covered in the lectures, but the amount of history--social, political, philosophical--that finds its way into the Irish arts, is the Irish arts, is astounding. The music and literature of the people are that of centuries of angst, anger, frustration, revolution, depression, triumph, and most of all, struggle.
Gearóid MacLochlainn's poems told many things not only in words but the rhythm and tone. It was at times very low and laconic, but other times it was louder and verbose--pushing the emotion forward to the next phrases. The words themselves told a dark history of oppression and strife, but at the same time, you could understand the pride in it somehow. You could sense the Irishness, that of nationalistic sentiment, but that was not overt or anything. During this event, I felt the music existed contradictorily to the poems in this way. While there are darker genres in Irish music, the traditional music like we heard last night is more upbeat. It takes that subliminal Irish pride from the poems and puts it--literally--center stage. To say that the music is "happy" would not do it justice. It's triumphant in the sense that it is unapologetic for its optimistic Irish celebration. You simply want to get up and dance, and I think that is largely the point. Struggle after struggle, the Irish people continue to get up and dance. (Charles Dyer, American student studying in Debrecen, BA, University of Debrecen)
The poetry night was great. I had fun and had a chance to gain knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity before to hear poems in a different language, let alone Irish. I found the language most intricate, although it was rather unfamiliar to my ears at first. The poems sounded more like a chant to me, but eventually as I got used to the pronunciation and strange sounds it was pleasant. I was intrigued by the historical snippets the poet mentioned, it is so different to hear these from a native speaker, and to see how the collective memory of the Irish is present in someone. While the reciting was fantastic, the Irish music was what I enjoyed most. The fiddle is such a marvellous instrument I love how it sounds, it is so joyful and nimble. It makes me want to dance whenever I listen to it. The harmony of the instruments was mesmerizing. All in all, the artists were all fantastic and I had a wonderful time. I was already interested in Irish culture but from now on, I shall endeavour to spend more time studying, and enjoying it. I hope I will have the chance to attend such events in the future! (Takács Dóra, BA student, University of Debrecen)
A Stream of Tongues – A Night of Poetry and Music with Gearóid Mac Lochlainn
“Tonight, my friends, there will be no translations,” said the poet Mac Lochlainn to all of us, thus giving the undertone to the evening. There would be no translations, and in a way, there were not any: Northern-Irish Mac Lochlainn recited his poetry in such a manner that could never be mirrored in any other language – something would always be lost. However, translation was already happening by the very act of announcing that it would not. The strange and alien-looking texts from the sheets of paper distributed became language and sound when spoken by the poet, and then that sound became music when accompanied by the Debrecen band Luan. Hearing a language spoken by few is always a wonder, but hearing it put into poetry was a revelation. There was a rhythm to it, something we, the audience had not known but still could not help but find familiar: the not-understanding of Irish became our own way of understanding. And so, it was a small Northern Ireland at Sikk klub that night; we were initiated into it by words, by sound, by music. Hearing actual translations of Mac Lochlainn’s works – because the command of banishing translations had only been partly true – could be described as sruth teangacha – a stream of tongues. That is what it was; tongues moving and sound escaping, giving way to a meaning that moved beyond language. (Szirák Anna, BA student, University of Debrecen)
“Claire's reading went extremely well. We enjoyed it immensely and Claire was a wonderful guest and brilliant reader. We had advertised the event at university and we forwarded the info to the university's press office. We had also availed of the German-Irish Society Saarland's mailing list to spread the word. The Q&A-Session alone lasted for about 80 mins: the audience seemed to enjoy it greatly and especially our students asked many questions. We were all very much taken by Claire Kilroy who was such an interesting and thought-provoking speaker, and who spoke very openly and in a very personal way about The Devil I Know, the creative process and about the socio-historical context of the novel.”