In 1951 American musicologist Alan Lomax travelled to Ireland and, guided by piper Séamus Ennis, began recording and collecting traditional Irish songs and music. Released as the album Ireland, and credited with the folk and traditional music revivals of the 1960s and 1970s, these recordings sparked Lomax’s ambitious journey to gradually record the folk music of the world.
Clannad’s Pól Brennan traces the roots of folk and blues songs from marginalised black communities of the southern US states, showing how Lomax’s 1933 recording of Lead Belly’s Goodnight, Irene later came to be recorded in Irish by sean nós singer Cití Ní Ghallchóir in Donegal.
Declan McGrath’s documentary weaves archival footage, atmospheric landscapes, and interviews with contemporary musicians to investigate the man who first chronicled what we know today as world music.
Notes by Eleanor Melinn
Spirit of the Festival award, Celtic Media Festival, 2019.