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Ciarán MacMathúna


Ciaran MacMathuna


The University of Limerick is pleased  to honour today a native of Limerick City who has ensured that the language, history, stories and songs of Ireland are known throughout the world.  Ciarán MacMathúna, once of Mulgrave Street, Limerick and the CBS, Sexton Street, seems a warm and familiar friend to those of us accustomed to listening to his gentle tones and evocative selection of music on the much-loved Sunday morning programme, Mo Cheol Thú.  Quoting his friend, Donal Foley's response to the programme, Ciarán MacMathúna comments, "Donal . . .said it was the most marvellous programme on the radio because if he had chanced to waken on a Sunday morning just after eight o'clock, I could be guaranteed to put him back to sleep in two minutes flat, and that's a nice thing to have said of it".

Ciarán MacMathúna's career as a teacher, an employee of the Placenames Commission and with RTE has always involved working with people.  His interest in preserving important oral traditions and folk customs coupled with that rare talent of sympathetic listening has given him access to precious archival material, much of which has been broadcast on A Job of Journeywork, American Journeywork and Mo Cheol Thú which recently celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday.

Tá aithne mhaith ar Chiarán mórthimpeall na hÉireann toisc é a bheith chomh muinteartha agus toisc é a bheith chomh heolach "náisiún na mbailte fearainn".  Bhí sé ag bailiú agus ag craoladh cheol traidisiúnta na hÉireann i bhfad sara raibh aon mheas ar na traidisiúin seo.  Le linn a chuid blianta fada, torthúla, tá sé feicthe aige conas mar atá traidisiúin cheoil agus rince na hÉireann tar éis páirt thábhachtach a ghlacadh i saol na tíre seo.  Níl aon dabht ach go bhfuil mórthionchar ag obair cheannródaíochta Chiaráin ar an onóir atá gnóthaithe ag na traidisiúin seo.  De dheasca an spéis fhairsing atá aige i gcúrsaí éagsúla ceoil, d'éirigh leis suim a mhúscailt i lucht éisteachta leathan i ngnéithe den dtraidisiún nach gcuirfí ar an eolas murach é.

Ciarán MacMathúna travelled extensively in America, Canada, Norway and Sweden recording the story of Irish traditional music and gathering the folk music of other countries.  His programmes for radio and television have received international acclaim:  The Pleasures of Galway won the national award for radio folklore music in the Czech Republic in 1987; and his Irish music feature programme on Matt Molloy and James Galway won the premier award at the Prague International Television Festival.  A number of publications on Irish traditional music and culture have appeared in German, Irish and American journals and books and he has served on the Cultural Relations Committee of the Department of Foreign Affairs.  The Touch of the Master's Hand, a compilation of highlights from Mo Cheol Thú, appeared in 1995.

We hope that today's award will prove a fitting addition to the two Jacobs' Awards and the Honorary Doctorate with which Ciarán MacMathúna was honoured in 1990 by University College Galway.  We hope too that Ciarán MacMathúna's voice continues to soar skyward with 'the lark in the clear air' and so testify to the truth of Addison's couplet,

Music, the greatest good that mortals know,

And all of heaven we have below.


It is a goal of the University of Limerick to work beyond the walls of its campus. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to offer our facilities to those who are pursuing knowledge, truth and understanding.

It is essential to recognise today social, charitable and personal contributions which have had a substantial and long-lasting impact on the well-being of what are commonly referred to as 'these islands'.

Sport is a unifying force - it brings together parishes, counties, provinces and the nation in support of a common cause and helps to boost national morale and raise the international profile of our country. It is therefore eminently appropriate that this university should recognise and honour those who epitomise the finest virtues of sport and who have contributed substantially to the enhancement of Ireland's sporting heritage.

The University of Limerick - honouring those who use their achievements to benefit the people of this city and region and show special appreciation to those who have contributed to the development of this great institution.

Demonstrating our respect for cultural achievements on the national and international stage.

There is no idea so uplifting as the idea of service to humanity.

Woodrow Wilson

We acknowledge the remarkable contribution of individual's to the betterment of the lives of those past, present, and to come.

UL Ceremonies
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
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