The Oriel Traditional Orchestra is a cross border community orchestra whose members come from Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Armagh and focus on Irish traditional music repertoire from the region arranged especially for the orchestra. Recently appointed Ensemble in Residence at DkIT, the orchestra have performed locally in Co. Louth and in Youghal, Co. Cork, at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Drogheda and the Gerry Whelan Weekend in Cootehill, Co. Cavan. Their repertoire includes music from Meath born harper-composer Turlough O'Carolan, South Armagh fiddle player Josephine Keegan, and Louth composers Adèle Commins and Daithí Kearney. They also perform music from Brian O'Kane from Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, which he performed with the Siamsa Céilí Band from Dundalk, as well as tunes from local collections.
The OTO performs repertoire from and inspired by the Oriel region with new compositions by members and local composers. To date, the repertoire has included music sourced to the Luke Donnellan collection, which formed part of Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin’s seminal study The Hidden Ulster (2003) and local fiddle player Gerry O’Connor’s MA dissertation at Dundalk Institute of Technology (2006), which was recently published as The Rose in the Gap (2018). The music of Monaghan composer Brian O’Kane, recently collected and transcribed by Dr Daithí Kearney at DkIT, is also included, as is the music of South Armagh composer Josephine Keegan, also based on research undertaken at DkIT. The orchestra has also sought to include new compositions by its members and to date this has included a set from composers and directors Daithí Kearney and Adèle Commins from their album and collection A Louth Lilt (2017) and a new set from member Philip McGuinness. As the group develops, it is planned to include some songs from the rich Oriel tradition that has been researched by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and some of the region’s harp music, which is currently being researched by MA student Sylvia Crawford at DkIT. The orchestra also includes arrangements of the music of Turlough O’Carolan from Nobber, Co. Meath.
The developing relationship between the OTO and Centre for Creative Arts Research at DkIT highlights the shared themes and goals of the members and provides opportunity for a sharing of research, expertise, space and performances. We are delighted that the Oriel Traditional Orchestra is one of the ensembles of residence in DkIT.