RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will celebrate fifty years on air on 2 April, and to mark this very special occasion the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will travel to Conamara to perform in a gala concert in the heart of the Gaeltacht, broadcast live on radio, with some of the country’s top traditional musicians including Altan, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Steve Cooney, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Cór Chúil Aodha and many more.
Courage, identity and pride of place are the primary themes for the commemorative concert, titled RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta 50, reflecting the station’s origins within the civil rights movement, its history as a regional and national radio service, and its vital role in sustaining and promoting the Irish language and culture over the last fifty years, with artists from all across the Gaeltachtaí taking part.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta came on air for the first time on 2 April 1972 – Easter Sunday. The result of a long campaign by the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement, who asserted the right of the Gaeltacht and greater Irish-language community to a daily radio service in their own language, the station has acted as a vital bridge between the Gaeltacht communities. Since then, RnaG has played a vital role as a platform for the Irish-language and all aspects of the culture, including traditional music, sean-nós singing, Gaelic games, literature, oral arts, and contemporary Irish-language songwriting, as well as providing a daily regional, national and international news service in Irish.
Dee Forbes, Director-General, RTÉ, says: “Born out of the language movement of the late sixties and early seventies, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta sought to give voice and preserve voice, to develop it and champion it. RnaG has done just that, and more, across five remarkable decades.”
“Today, RnaG continues to bring together our Gaeltachtaí, while providing an essential regional, national and international news service to all Irish-language speakers nationwide and around the globe. As a champion of our traditional arts, our sports, and our language, the contribution of RnaG to the protection, preservation and promotion of the Irish-language is immense. To all who have worked in RnaG, to all who dedicate their professional lives to RnaG today, to all who contribute, and to all who listen – happy anniversary.”
Gearóid Mac Donncha, Ceannaire, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, says: “At its heart, this concert will demonstrate the vibrancy, courage, pride, confidence, and rich heritage of the Gaeltacht and Irish-language community. It will be a celebration of that community, those who campaigned with the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement, those who founded the radio service in the early 1970s and past and current staff, our loyal listeners, everyone involved in Gaeltacht life and the Irish language community, and the young people growing up today who will keep the flame alive into the future.”
“This concert will be a very special event, broadcast live from the heart of the Gaeltacht, with local, national and international artists, young musicians, dancers and singers having the unique opportunity of playing on stage with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. It is a privilege for RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta to have gathered such esteemed musicians together in the Gaeltacht to mark the station’s 50th anniversary.”
Artists performing on stage with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta 50 concert will include Altan, Cór Chúil Aodha, Iarla Ó Lionáird & Steve Cooney, Johnny Óg Connolly, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, The High Seas, Cormac Ó Beaglaoich, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Dónal O’Connor, Gerry O’Beirne and Seán Monaghan.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta has had a central role in the revival of sean-nós singing, and the concert will include performances from Ciarán Ó Gealbháin, Máire Ní Choilm, Micheál Ó Confhaola, Caitlín Ní Chualáin, Páidí Mhárthain Mac Gearailt, Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde, Étáin & Máire Ní Churraoin and Scottish singer Griogair Labhruidh who will represent the connection with the other Celtic nations.
There will also be performances from Connemara country singers Beartla Ó Domhnaill, Máirtín Beag Ó Gríofa and Anna Marie Nic Dhonncha. The next generation will be represented by youth musical groups Ceoltóirí Óga Chois Fharraige from Conamara, Co. Galway, and An Crann Óg from Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal, and there will be sean-nós dancing from Róisín Ní Mhainín, the Hernon family and the Devanneys.
The concert will be presented by Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha, Michelle Nic Grianna and Sláine Ní Chathalláin. David Brophy will conduct the orchestra, and musical arrangement will be by Cormac McCarthy.
The concert will be produced by Aniar TV, and has been funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Highlights from the concert will be featured in a TV programme to be broadcast on RTÉ One on 23 April.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta 50 will be broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta at 7 pm on Saturday 2 April, and a visual stream will also be available at rte.ie/gaeilge.