Inishowen musicians bring ‘An Capaillin Spagach’ to life

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Donegal is playing a key role in “ensuring a lasting cultural and sporting legacy” from this summer’s Olympic Games.

Renowned Buncrana composer, Tom Byrne and Irish language poet, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill have co-written ‘An Capaillin Spagach’ or ‘The Little Horse With Big Hooves’.

Due to premiere in May, it will feature pupils from Derry’s Irish medium schools, Bunscoil Cholmcille, Gaelscoil na Daroige and Gaelscoil Eadain Mhoir.

Mr Byrne revealed talented Inishowen musicians, Roisin Harrigan, Martin McGinley and Maria Doherty will accompany the youngsters.

He said: “The first performance of ‘An Capaillin Spagach’ will take place in the University of Ulster, Magee. it will coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Derry.

“When Nuala and I were approached by the Comment-8 Project, to produce a performance piece with an Olympic and Irish theme, equestrian sports were the obvious choice. ‘An Capaillin Spagach’ is the captivating, dramatised story of Aksakal, a mystical horse-whisperer, and his quest for a horse which has disappeared from his country.

“The AkhalTeke is the shimmering, mysterious breed of magical horses which emerged from the deserts of Turkmenistan. Aksakal’s quest takes him all over the world, until he finally arrives in Ireland. He meets two children who tell him of the mysterious CapallUisce, the horse that lives in the lakes.”

Marie Corey, Comment-8 Co-ordinator explained the commissioning organisation’s remit:

“Based in Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre, Comment-8 is funded by Legacy Trust UK to create a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, by funding ideas and local talent.”

Songwriter, Tom Byrne found writing a musical “a rewarding and challenging experience”.

He said: “Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill has had such a positive and open-minded approach to the collaboration. She has written lyrics in Irish for two of the airs I composed for the piece. In addition, it was very natural to use traditional music to mimic the movements of the horses from a canter to a gallop and in my traditional compositions, I attempt to mimic the rhythmical movement of the horses.”