Turas is a unique DVD and on-line movie, a Covid-era response to the absence of live performance in 2020-21. It is a TV-style documentary of still images with music, linked sequentially in Traditional tunes named for each county on the island of Ireland and its Diaspora regions of England and the USA. The imagery and music embody hundreds of the key elements with which Irish music engages, as found among the data in the encyclopedia Companion to Irish Traditional Music.
These are presented as a county-by-county repertoire of old and new tunes and songs linked by their names, styles and visual images to towns, topography and townlands.
The music is played by Fintan Vallely, Gerry O!Connor and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn – a 100- minute performance, with sean-nós and Irish-language song by Máire Ní Choilm, Róisín Chambers and Karan Casey, and ballads in English by Karan and by Róisín White. Maurice Leyden and Stephanie Makem sing additional songs on the CD album Compánach, and on the Vimeo video version. Sean-nós step dance by Sibéal Davitt powerfully accents the music with percussive rhythm, as does 19th-century tambourine played, and made, by Seamus O!Kane.
Visual imagery is used to tell the music!s story, a narrative form that gives information effortlessly, to avoid the intrusion of spoken language and translation issues – a continuous stream of stills, each of them related to the music being played at that moment. The images are of instrumental musicians, singers and dancers, performance, events and scenery. These are mainly by photography by Jacques Piraprez Nutan, he an artist who has contributed to many Irish albums, and had worked with Fintan Vallely on other photographic/music projects: notably the 1998 music-interviews book Blooming Meadows, and the 2011 biography of the Leitrim fiddler, Ben Lennon, The Tailor!s Twist. Superb landscapes by Sligo photographer Gareth McCormack bring a sense of dramatic scale, and images by other artists, including photos from CC!”s resources, fill out an island-wide coverage.
Turas is both an audio-visual parade and a comprehensive inventory of Irish Traditional music, song and dance in its places and communities. The music covers all tune-types; its images demonstrate the artistic drive, achievement and contemporary and historical engagement among Irish Traditional music performers, facilitators, teachers and consumers. The 700-odd pictures denote repertoire, social contexts, gender, age, historical era, political and religious partialities, organisations, regional topography, urban and rural, teaching, publication, promotion, broadcasting, media, celebration and honours. The artistic purpose of this is to culturally and geographically celebrate the music!s scale, open-ness, modernity and links to the past, roots in Ireland, place in Irish culture, and trans-national appeal – the aesthetic and emotional attraction of Traditional music as a contemporary artform.
With support from Culture Ireland, this has been performed live since 2013 as an #illustrated concert$! #Compánach – Irish music in its place!. It has been progressively developed through performance at
festivals and arts centres in Ireland, Britain, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Australia, latterly at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann in Drogheda, 2019. This DVD and on-line movie version has been made possible by support from the Arts Office of Louth County Council, and by An Comhairle Ealaíon, The Arts Council of Ireland. The generosity and critical opinion of many, especially the cast, has also greatly added to it, as has the provision of key images by CCÉ.
Fuller information is on the website – www.tur.ie – where there are multiple purchase deals, on the disc, and on the CD double-album Compánach. The Vimeo version can also be accessed online, made to suit computer watching and, in particular, viewing on smartphones and tablets.