Seán O'Riada - One Of Ireland's Greatest Composers Of Music & Song In The Irish Language
A short and very fruitful forty years lifespan gave Ireland a heritage of rich traditional music that will be preserved for many future generations.
Cork born Sean O’Riada lived his boyhood at Adare, Co. Limerick, where his father, a Garda Sergeant, was stationed. He became a musical icon in his own short lifetime. His natural love of cultural Irish music was inherited from both his parents.
On completion of his studies in Adare, he attended Cork University College and whilst studying for his degree, he played in a local dance band and also worked as a jazz pianist. One of his first career moves was as Director Of Music at Radio Éireann.
He later moved to France for a period and on return to Ireland he took up an appointment with the Abbey Theatre, as Director Of Music. He now also began composing The musical arrangements for many plays.
Sean O’Riada’s first major recognition came with his composition of the music titles for two Documentaries, Mise Éire (1959) and Saoirse (1961).
In 1961 O’Riada found Ceoltoiri Chualann and it was from this historic gathering that the famed group ‘The Chieftains’ were founded.
An appointment as lecturer in Irish music at University College Cork, enabled Seán to take up residence in the Irish Gaeltacht region of West Cork at Cor Chúil Aodha.
A formidable musician and composer, his works for Radio Éireann, incorporating orchestral compositions, included:
The Banks Of Sullane (1956);
Hercules Dux Ferrariae(1957);
and Nomas No.2
His works also included film scores for the ‘Playboy Of The Western World’ (1961); ‘Young Cassidy’ (1965) and An Tine Bheo (1966)
He also composed musical arrangements for two masses and ironically, one composition was played for the very first time at his own funeral mass in 1971.
Sean O’Riada’s death at just forty one years old denied music lovers many more fine compositions from a legendary Irish composer.