the poet and the liberator


A social and political account of pre-famine Ireland, as revealed in the words and music of Kerry poet Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1785-1848)

Tomás Rua Ó Súileabhán was a people's poet. The Kerry native’s poetry reflected the trials and suffering of the poorest of the Irish people in pre-famine Ireland because he suffered the same extreme hardship as his fellow Irish. In his words and music we are given a window on Irish society in the early 19th Century; up to the famine.

As a social commentator Tomás Rua wrote about the repeal movement, emancipation, his neighbour Daniel O Connell, faction fights, weddings, and yellow meal.

His words describe a world of great change and tell of the arrival of a liberator. But neither Tomás Rua's extraordinary gift of language nor his learning was protection against poverty, and he shared the fate of over 1,000,000 other Irish when he died in 1848 in the great hunger.

Tomás Rua's words bring the history of pre-famine Ireland alive; this engagement brings his world alive.

‘The Poet and the Liberator ' is a musical commentary of an unequal and divided society compellingly told by three groundbreaking young musicians (Lorcán Mac Mathúna, voice; Daire Bracken, fiddle; and Sean Mac Erlaine, bass clarinet).


Captain Rock


AmhrÁn na leabhar


DÓnal Binn


A RÍ an Domhnaigh


the fox chase


What people have said

Last Friday at St. Brigid's in Kildare, we were privileged to witness your
masterful performance of new songs with lyrics by Tomás Rua Ó
Suilleabháin. I just wanted to tell you how very beautiful the music was,
and how much I and my family enjoyed being there to hear it. Thank you
for taking on this project, and for doing such a magnificent job. Your stories and
songs taught us a great deal, and moved us to want to understand our Irish
heritage a little better. But the music itself really sang to our hearts.

Anyway, I can't really say how wonderful it was. 'Glorious' seems an
appropriate word.

Cheers, and thank you very much,
Annie McCormick Bonner