The Otherworld - Music & song from Irish tradition

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Belief in the existence of a parallel world and in otherworldly phenomena has long been established in Irish tradition and facets of such belief continue to be found in contemporary Irish society.

This book, with two accompanying compact discs, examines aspects of the enduring belief and fascination which the Irish imagination has with supernatural beings, encounters and occurrences as represented in song and music. The material contained in this publication which includes recorded sound, photographs and manuscript transcriptions is drawn from National Folklore Collection/Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann in University College Dublin. It is edited by Ríonach uí Ógáin and Tom Sherlock and published by Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann.

A number of illuminating aspects of popular tradition are addressed such as the connection between the supernatural and excellence in the performance of music and song, the dangers inherent in engaging with the fairies, the fear of abduction or loss, benign supernatural encounters, the existence of otherworldly creatures such as the banshee or the leprechaun and the physical landscape as perceived in inherited oral knowledge. There are encounters that reflect the blending of Christian and non-Christian ideas. This is a book for both the general reader and scholars of folklore.

The inclusion of contemporary performers alongside older archival material is testament to the fact that the National Folklore Collection continues to grow and remains the most important repository of Irish vernacular culture.

The songs, music and lore contained in this publication are the foundation stone upon which the book rests and this material reflects the circumstances, hopes, anxieties, fears, beliefs, modes of entertainment and sometimes the sense of mischief of Irish people, both urban and rural. The selected examples are illustrated with numerous black and white photographs many of them taken by the original collectors. There can be little doubt that the full spectrum of human experience is better comprehended with an understanding of traditional lore and belief. The Otherworld: Music & Song from Irish Tradition addresses an important aspect of that human experience and seeks to encourage just such an engagement.

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