An Dá Shaol (Two Lives) of Connemara settlers in Co Meath
Amidst the great ambience of Rath Chairn Community Centre last month, a literary gem was unveiled to the world.
‘An Dá Shaol (Two Lives),’ authored by Padraig MacDonncha and published by Clo Iar-Chonnachta, invites readers on a beautiful journey through the captivating stories and folklore of Connemara people who ventured from the traditional fishing areas of Ceantar na nOilean in South Connemara to the green landscapes of Co Meath in 1935.
Connemara, a place where the sea and land meet, leaves an indelible mark on its people. As the saying goes, "The sea, like the land, leaves its mark on a man," and you can spot a Connemara man anywhere, even when he strolls through Co Meath. His gait, his presence, they all reveal his roots and he's as obvious as a sean-nós dancer at a fleadh cheol.
"An Dá Shaol" is an aptly named book, for it delves into the contrasting lives of the 36 families who dared to relocate from the rural Irish-speaking communities of South Connemara to Co Meath in 1935.
They argued that they were descendants of those displaced by Cromwell, seeking refuge along the Co Galway coastline. Common sense, they believed, dictated that they held rightful title deeds to their newfound Meath lands.
Author Padraig MacDonncha, himself a product of the Irish-speaking community of Rath Chairn, listened attentively to the songs and stories shared around firesides during the winter evenings of the 1950s and 60s. With great care and love, he has chronicled these tales in his book, creating a vivid tapestry of real-life stories woven in the language of the Rath Chairn people—the Irish Language. These stories, handed down through generations, reveal the essence of the Connemara settlers' experiences and the enduring power of their cultural heritage.
The launch of ‘An Dá Shaol’ at Rath Chairn Community Centre last weekend was an event of great cultural significance.
Éamon O Cuív TD, a renowned storyteller in his own right, graced the occasion with his presence and shared insights into the remarkable achievements of Padraig MacDonncha before he embarked on his writing journey.
"An Dá Shaol (Two Lives)" is more than just a book; it's a celebration of heritage, resilience, and the enduring spirit of Connemara people. With eloquent storytelling and a deep connection to the community, Padraig MacDonncha has captured the essence of an extraordinary journey. This is a must-read for anyone seeking to delve into the rich tapestry of Irish history and culture.