Origins of Róisín Dubh song to be discussed at Ó Cléirigh summer school

Former RTÉ director general Cathal Goan keynote speaker at annual event in Donegal

Former RTÉ director general Cathal Goan will be the keynote speaker at the annual Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School in Co Donegal next month.

Mr Goan, who was head of the national broadcaster from 2003 to 2010, will discuss whether the 16th century song Róisín Dubh represented the story of Ireland or of a Franciscan struck by a woman's beauty.

The song attributed to Antoine Ó Raifteirí the poet, but which may predate him, has references to the geography around Ballyshannon, close to where Franciscan brother Ó Cléirigh was born at Creevy.

Mr Goan, whose family has links to Creevy, is married to traditional singer Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, who has recorded Róisín Dubh.


Her aunt, Neili Ní Dhomhnaill, also recorded a particular version of the song, and Mr Goan says this inspired the title of his address: Róisín Dubh – the story of Ireland or a Franciscan led astray.

The annual summer school is held in memory of Ó Cléirigh, who worked from 1632 to 1636 to produce the annals of the kingdom of Ireland.

The fifth school will take place in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, May 11th-13th in the local Franciscan Friary hall and the nearby Sand House Hotel.

Historian and Belleek pottery designer Fergus Cleary will chair the event and the programme includes the first official gathering of Clan Cleary, involving families with surnames Cleary, Ó Cléirigh, Clery and Clarke.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times