The Liam & Tom O’Flaherty Society has had to move its annual summer Inis Mór festival entirely online due to new Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings.
Féile na bhFlaitheartach 2020 will focus on life and writings of the author and journalist Breandán Ó hÉithir, nephew of the famous O’Flaherty brothers.
And as always, the Féile will be a bilingual affair, although some of the online events will be in Irish.
Breandán was born on Inis Mór 90 years ago and it is 30 years since he passed away. To this day, he is well remembered for his witty and perceptive prose both in Irish and English and his journalistic work for the Irish Times and RTÉ.
But the man’s insight into the Irish establishment is exemplified by his satirical ballad ‘The Gentle Black and Tan’.
Anyone who has read Breandán’s superb ‘The Begrudger’s Guide’ would have certainly thought of that lyrical masterpiece when Fine Gael announced its intention to commemorate the Black and Tans.
Ó hÉithir will be honoured in a number of the festival’s bilingual events. On Sunday, 30 August, at 7 pm, the Society will be screening the annual keynote lecture, dedicated to Breandán’s memory, available to all on the Society’s Facebook page.
This presentation is by the former RTÉ journalist, and his close friend, Póilín Ní Chiarán. It will include footage from the RTÉ archives and promises a unique insight into Ó hÉithir’s life.
One week later, on Sunday, 6 September, three further events will go online. One of these, associated with island haunts of Ó hÉithir, is Seosamh Ó Cuaig’s introduction with readings from his writings and O’Flaherty’s ‘A Tourist’s Guide to Ireland’.
And returning to the murderous nature of the Black and Tans, the Féile committee believe it important to commemorate the life of another Aran Islander, Laurence McDonagh, who was brutally killed by the Tans on Inis Mór in 1920.
Respects will be paid to Laurence McDonagh literally at the scene of crime, which is marked by a plaque. There will be a short talk followed by some traditional music and a rendering of Breandán Ó hÉithir’s ‘The Gentle Black and Tan’.
Féile na bhFlaitheartach would be incomplete without some special focus on the work of Liam O’Flaherty. As a third event, Éamon Ó Ciosáin will launch a unique publication: Mícheál Ó Conghaile’s translation into Irish of thirty of Liam’s English short stories, with a reading by the well known poet translator.
Another translation into Irish is Máirín Mhic Lochlainn’s rendering of Breandán Ó hEithir’s radio adaptation of Jaroslav Hašek’s famous anti-war satire,“The Good Soldier Švejk” (An Deá Shaighdiúr Švejk). This will go public later in the autumn.
Máirín has already dramatised several of Liam O’Flaherty’s texts as Gaeilge for past féilte, thereby making a unique contribution to the store of Irish drama.