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Shared Music of Dalriada performance celebrates 300-year-old song

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

A beautiful new performance of an 18th century Scots Gaelic song is available to watch now as part of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Shared Music of Dalriada project.


Fear a’ Bhàta (The Boatman), captures the spirit of the Good Relations and Museums Service initiative which aims to uncover and celebrate the shared musical heritage of North Antrim and Southwest Scotland.


The piece is said to have been written by Sìne NicFhionnlaigh from the Isle of Lewis, capturing the emotions of her courtship with fisherman, Dòmhnall MacRath, whom she later married.


Many different versions of the song have circulated over the last 300 years and in 1939, it was published in English by Sam Henry in his ‘Songs of the People’ newspaper column where he noted that the oldest and fullest version of the song was still sung on Rathlin Island.


The new recording took place during a residential weekend on Rathlin Island where young musicians came together to explore the traditional music, song, and dance of Ireland, Rathlin and Scotland. Arranged by tutor Deirdre Goodlad, it combines verses in the original Scots Gaelic, Irish, and English, with the accompanying video featuring stunning imagery of the island.


Welcoming the project’s success, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Ivor Wallace said:

“There is something unique about seeing our area’s young musicians performing such an historic piece of music and I want to congratulate everyone involved.


“This recording will help to further preserve this centuries old piece of music, which has been handed down from generation to generation. The project has helped to shine a light on our shared musical traditions, and it was very fitting that the performance took place on Rathlin Island, which helped to inspire the song.”


The production is available to watch now on the Northern Ireland Community Archive - CLICK HERE.


This project has received support from The Executive Office as part of the ‘Together: Building a United Community’ strategy.


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