REMARKS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE AT A RECEPTION TO CELEBRATE LOCAL TRADITIONAL MUSICIANS
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE AT A RECEPTION TO CELEBRATE LOCAL TRADITIONAL MUSICIANS AT ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN, WEDNESDAY, 21 APRIL
Dia dhíbh a cháirde agus fáilte go léir go dtí Áras an Uachtaráin tráthnóna.
Good afternoon and welcome to Áras an Uachtaráin. Martin and I hope you will enjoy your visit and we thank you for coming. In fact this day is a day of thanks to those who are the custodians of our traditional music, one of the greatest legacies gifted to us from our ancestors, one of the richest gifts we share with each other, with the wider world and with the generations to come. It’s a curious kind of gift because the more we share and the more of it there is. It deepens our lives, reveals to us the genius of music, its capacity to move us, entertain us, provoke us, unite us, differentiate us. It has its own language that transcends all other languages. An Irish jig can set feet tapping in Beijing or in Rio among people who know nothing of Ireland or its people except what they hear in our music. It is a phenomenal source of friendship building, an ambassadorship without peer - for Ireland. Its transmission from generation to generation relies on the commitment of you and people like you. Its development and growth, its evolving character and identity, relies on your skill, your imagination and your willingness to share.
Take our traditional music out of Irish cultural life and you take the very breath out of it. Add it in and you get the power that held us together through harder times, the confidence that surges through these better times, the vibrancy that brings visitors to our shores, the respect that greets our music around the globe. Where two or more Irish are gathered anywhere in the world it is their centre of gravity and wherever it is played, or sung or danced, it wins us new exponents, new composers and performers many of whom have no connection to Ireland except through the family that is created among lovers of music throughout the world.
No tradition keeps itself alive. You do that. Your dedication, your enthusiasm, your teaching, your performing, are essential. We are a fortunate nation to have such champions. You make Irish traditional music and you make us proud. We owe you a debt beyond repayment but this day is a small gesture of thanks.
There are a number of people who have helped make today happen including Ciarán Mac Mathúna, Donncha Ó Dulaing, Liam Ó Murchú and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann's Labhras Ó Murchú. I’d like to thank them as I would also like to thank those wonderfully talented musicians from Comhaltas who have entertained us this afternoon – Emma and Sarah Jane Woods, Gary Shannon, Padraig Sinnot, Frank Whelan, Frank Custy, Domhnall de Barra and Brian Prior.
My thanks also to our friends from Civil Defence and the staff at the Áras who have worked hard to make the day enjoyable for everyone.
Go maire sibh. Go raibh maith agaibh.