Prestigious award for Carndonagh woman

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An Inishowen radio producer took silver at an International awards ceremony in New York last week.

Mary Owens, an independent radio producer from Carndonagh, came second place at the prestigious New York International Awards for her innovative series celebrating Ireland’s maritime song tradition.

‘The Sea in Song’ was broadcast by RTÉ Lyric FM and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, Mary, of Well Said Productions, talked about how Irish songs of the sea have travelled back and forth to America, Canada, Australia and many other places around the world.

“These songs tell aspects of our social history better than any textbook can. I think that is why the series appealed to an international jury”.

The series is potent mix of song and story with fresh new perspectives on Ireland’s maritime history and sea faring traditions.

It explores Irish narratives in sea shanties and sailor ballads and taps into some hair-raising accounts of life at sea in the 19th century, including many songs from Donegal in both English and Irish.

For the programmes, Mary sifted through the huge collection of Irish coastal songs.

“This includes some classics from the Gaelic repertoire, to retrieve vivid tales of smugglers, shipwrecks and heroic rescues. ‘The Sea in Song’ also features some of our most powerful laments and romantic ballads.”

Contributors to the series included Donegal people such as Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Lillis O Laoire and Grace Toland.

The series was broadcast on The Lyric Feature slot from December 29th –31st 2010. Listeners can still enjoy the series on-line in the Lyric Feature’s 2010 programme archive.