Photo: Saverio Truglia

In the legendary Irish tale Táin Bó Cúailnge, foster-brothers and beloved friends Ferdia and Cuchulainn are coerced by the manipulative Queen Medhbh to battle one another to the death. After a three-day battle that neither wants to win, Cuchulainn slays Ferdia and lets loose the most powerful, guttural cry imaginable, the cry known as olagón. Using the rich and conflicted notion of olagón as a starting point, composer/fiddler/electronic-musician Dan Trueman, sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and poet Paul Muldoon are collaboratively creating a new evening-length work with Eighth Blackbird, to be directed by Mark DeChiazza.

 

NOW QUEEN MEDHBH HAD BROUGHT ME IN

AR SCATH A CHEILE A MHAIREAS NA DAOINE
AND MADE ME TEA OUT OF HER WEE TIN

 

These, the opening lines from the text Muldoon is creating for this project, give a sense of the rich possibilities presented by the interwoven languages. The second line translates literally as “we live in each other’s shadows,” but also has the broader meaning that we all depend on one another in various ways. The actual sound of these words is at once lyrical and rhythmic, full of musical and vocal possibility. Surrounding this line are two that invoke the Táin, but also reference a nursery song from Northern Ireland. In the sentences that follow, we discover Medhbh drinking martinis, suffering drug addictions, and ultimately collapsing in the parking lot, marked off by traffic cones. The sobbing cry ochon agus ochon o comes and goes throughout. This is an edgy, intense, trans-historical text, at once evocative of ancient myths and also the contemporary struggles of the post-Celtic-Tiger Ireland.

 

For more detail about the project please visit the website