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Meala Circle (West Cork)

by Anna Cosgrave

A day of lamentation and memorialisation was held with a group of Heir Islanders in West Cork on Mother’s Day in March 2022.   

Méala Circle Inis Uí Drisceoil  is an ongoing collaboration between Anna Cosgrave, a Death Doula apprentice and Funeral Celebrant, and Tadgh Walsh-Peelo, a renowned West Cork violinist, carver and Gaeolgoir.

Inspired by the legacy of the Mná Caointe (Irish Keening Women), Méala seeks to examine traditions around the life cycle in Ireland and the concept of birth, death, and grief as a shared community experience by hosting community conversations and creating collective responses.

As Anna told us: “With no community center on the Island, I feel there’s been a chasm in shared articulations of grief.”

On Mother’s Day 2022, Anna invited Heir Islanders to a community conversation based on the the theme: “Ba mhéala a bhás / his death was to be lamented”. Participants shared photographs of loved ones as prompts to the past, which led to an evening of storytelling, poetry, and music. 

Tadhg Walsh Peelo subsequently composed a hauntingly beautiful lament in return as an expression of thelove and decline of island lifefor those who were honored and remembered on the day by participants. 

“I was drawn to this work because of the effect violin has on emotions,” said Tadhg. “It is a powerful conduit for spirit and grief and in the right setting acts as a lightning rod for emotion.” 

Using recordings of the sea lapping against Heir Island’s shores, the piece seeks to pay homage to those inhabitants who left the island by its historic funeral steps on their final journey.

“The sea also fascinates me in the way that it compels us to confront our emotions and also to let go of them,” said Tadhg. “I wanted to make music that would be an outlet and inlet for the Islanders’ grief, something unifying and cathartic not just for those with Heir Island ancestry.”

Listen to Tadhg Walsh Peelo’s emotive lament here:

About Heir Island, West Cork

For more information, visit: About Heir Island