Jean Ritchie with Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin in West Cork
Jun 05 2015 Posted: 15:24 IST

It is with sadness that NUI Galway noted the passing of noted folk-singer and collector Jean Ritchie earlier this week. Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a global audience, died at the age of 92.

In 1996 the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, under the auspices of Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín of the University’s History Department, acquired the Ritchie-Pickow Photographic Archive, along with tapes of sound recordings. These included many of the singers and musicians that Jean recorded as part of a project to trace the roots of many of the songs and tunes she would have grown up with in the Southern Appalachians. The photographs were taken and the recordings made by the US husband and wife team, George Pickow and Jean Ritchie on visits to Ireland in 1952 and 1953.

Jean Ritchie, singer, folklorist and dulcimer player was born on 8 December 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. She was the youngest of a family of 14 children, known as 'The Singing Ritchies'. Jean graduated from the University of Kentucky and in 1952 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to enable her to research the origins of her family's songs in Great Britain and Ireland. Ritchie's late husband George Pickow, a photographer, accompanied her and they spent approximately eighteen months recording folk songs and traditional musicians and taking photographs. The photographs include images of many well-known uilleann pipe players, such as Seamus Ennis, the McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; vocalists, including Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin from West Cork, Sarah Makem and story tellers, such as Paitsín Faherty from the Aran Islands.

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne: “We in NUI Galway are deeply honored by our association with the late Jean Ritchie and George Pickow. Their names will forever be associated with NUI Galway, through the deposit in 1996 of the very significant collection of George's photographs and Jean’s sound recordings made during Jean’s Fulbright year in Ireland and Britain in 1952-53. This is a unique folk collection, linking the Irish song tradition and that of Appalachia. The Ritchie-Pickow collection is of considerable interest to scholars and researchers, and forms an integral part of the James Hardiman Library's Archives and Special Collections.”

Building on the Ritchie/Pickow archive housed in NUI Galway's library, The ‘Jean Ritchie Scholarship’ was launched last February during a visit to Berea College, Kentucky, by Mary McPartlan, Traditional Artist in Residence and University teacher and Anna Cunningham, Director of International Affairs, NUI Galway. The Scholarship offers a full tuition waiver to one outstanding Berea College graduate pursuing a one year MA programme in NUI Galway. Permission was granted by Jean Ritchie and her family to name this scholarship in her honour during the visit.

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ENDS

Tugann OÉ Gaillimh ómós do Jean Ritchie

Is oth linn a chloisteáil anseo in OÉ Gaillimh gur bhásaigh an t-amhránaí tíre agus an bailitheoir amhrán Jean Ritchie níos túisce an tseachtain seo. Bhásaigh Jean Ritchie in aois a 92; roinn sí na céadta amhrán traidisiúnta óna Appalachia dúchasach le lucht éisteachta domhanda.

Sa bhliain 1996, faoi choimirce an Ollaimh Dáibhí Ó Cróinín ó Roinn Staire na hOllscoile, ghlac Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin seilbh ar Chartlann Ghrianghraf Ritchie-Pickow, mar aon le téipeanna de thaifid fuaime. Chuimsigh siad seo go leor de na hamhránaithe agus na ceoltóirí a bhí taifeadta ag Jean mar chuid de thionscadal a bhí sí ina bhun le déanamh amach cé as a dtáinig go leor de na hamhráin agus na tiúineanna ar fhás sí aníos leo sna Sléibhte Apaláiseacha Theas. Ar chuairteanna go hÉirinn i 1952 agus 1953 a thóg an lánúin phósta as Meiriceá, George Pickow agus Jean Ritchie na grianghraif agus na taifid.

Rugadh Jean Ritchie, amhránaí, béaloideasóir agus seinnteoir dulcaiméara ar an 8 Nollaig 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. Ba í ab óige de cheithre pháiste dhéag ar a dtugtaí na ‘Singing Ritchies’. Bhain Jean céim amach in Ollscoil Kentucky agus sa bhliain 1952 bronnadh Scoláireacht Fulbright uirthi le cur ar a cumas taighde a dhéanamh ar bhunús amhráin a muintire sa Bhreatain Mhór agus in Éirinn. Bhí fear Ritchie, George Pickow, grianghrafadóir, atá é féin anois ar shlí na fírinne, ina cuideachta. Chaith siad thart ar ocht mí dhéag ag taifead amhráin tíre agus ceoltóirí traidisiúnta agus ag glacadh grianghraf. Cuimsíonn na grianghraif íomhánna de phíobairí iomráiteacha cosúil le Seamus Ennis, an McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; amhránaithe cosúil le Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin as Iarthar Chorcaí, Sarah Makem agus scéalaithe cosúil le Paitsín Faherty as Árainn.

Dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Is mór an onóir dúinn anseo in OÉ Gaillimh go raibh ceangal againn le Jean Ritchie agus le George Pickow, atá beirt ar shlí na fírinne anois.  Beidh ceangal idir iad féin agus OÉ Gaillimh go deo, mar gheall ar an mbailiúchán an-suntasach a cuireadh ar fáil i 1996 de ghrianghraif George agus de thaifid fuaime Jean a rinneadh an bhliain a raibh scoláireacht Fulbright ag Jean go hÉirinn agus go dtí an Bhreatain Mhór in 1952-53.  Bailiúchán tíre uathúil is ea é seo, a dhéanann nasc idir traidisiún amhránaíochta na hÉireann agus traidisiún Appalachia.  Bíonn an-spéis ag scoláirí agus ag taighdeoirí i mbailiúchán Ritchie-Pickow, agus tá sé mar lárchuid de Chartlanna agus Bailiúcháin Speisialta Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin.”

D’fhonn forbairt a dhéanamh ar chartlann Ritchie/Pickow atá i leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh, seoladh ‘Scoláireacht Jean Ritchie’ i mí Feabhra seo caite le linn do Mary McPartlan, an tEalaíontóir Traidisiúnta Cónaitheach agus teagascóir Ollscoile agus Anna Cunningham, an Stiúrthóir Gnóthaí Idirnáisiúnta, OÉ Gaillimh a bheith ar cuairt ar Berea College, Kentucky.  Clúdaíonn an Scoláireacht costas iomlán an teagaisc do chéimí amháin den scoth in Berea College atá ag tabhairt faoi chlár bliana MA in OÉ Gaillimh. Le linn na cuairte thug Jean Ritchie agus a teaghlach cead dúinn an scoláireacht a ainmniú in ómós di.

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