Richard Murphy Sunshine Fisherman and the Cleggan Disaster


Making Waves: Small Towns Big Ideas… Richard Murphy, ‘Sunshine Fisherman and the Cleggan Disaster’

> Jo Lavelle

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The life of poet, Richard Murphy, will be remembered through a live performance of his work in Richard Murphy, Sunshine Fisherman and the Cleggan Disaster on Saturday 4 August, as a part of the Small Towns Big Ideas programme.

One of 52 Galway 2020 Small Towns Big Ideas community projects supported by Galway 2020, the performance will take place as a part of ‘Festival of the Sea’, which runs from 3 to 12 August.

Considered one of the greatest Irish poets of our time, Richard Murphy, who lived in Cleggan, was best known for his four major collections, Sailing to an Island (1963), The Battle of Aughrim (1968), High Island (1974) and The Price of Stone (1985). He passed away on 30 January this year at the age of 90.

The performance, which has been organised by the Cleggan Claddaghduff Community Council, is directed by Jeananne Crowley and features Olwen Fouere, David Heap, Ben Keating, Macdara O Faherta and oilean piper Padraic Keane. The evening, which will explore Richard’s cultural legacy within the locality, will feature the first ever staged reading of The Cleggan Disaster, with Emily Murphy, the poet’s daughter delivering an epilogue on the night. A complementary visual exhibition by well-known local artist, Margaret Irwin, will also take place on the day.

Richard Murphy lived and worked in Cleggan in the 60s and 70s and raised his only daughter in the area. Richard used the landscape as his inspiration for seminal poems such as Sailing to An Island and The Cleggan Disaster. The Cleggan Disaster immortalised the early 20th century (1927) tragedy, which decimated the nearby fishing village of Rossadillisk, affecting most of the families within the area, and the Inisbofin, Iniskea and Lackan communities.

Apart from his writing, which was inspired by the cultural and natural landscape and its inhabitants, Richard also used to build stone houses using locally quarried stone, both within Cleggan village and on Omey.

In addition to creating this commemorative piece of work, the Cleggan Claddaghduff Community Council also intends to transform the local community hall, originally built as a sports hall, into a dramatic theatrical venue both for the occasion and for other events in the future.

Other events to follow during the week include a production by Killannan theatre group Aisteoirí an Bhaile, who will present ‘Failte Towers’ and the London Sea Shanty Singers, who will both hold an afternoon workshop and an evening performance.

Richard Murphy, Sunshine Fisherman and the Cleggan Disaster will take place at 8pm on Saturday 4 August in the Claddaghduff Hall. Tickets are €15, and available by contacting Sue McAdams on 085 723 227. Booking essential.

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