Argentine ambassador launched Westmeath heritage film in Moate
The incredible story of how Argentina became the destination of choice for so many Westmeath and Longford emigrants in the 1870s is part of the focus of a short documentary film, ‘Who is Padraic Ganly?’, launched in Moate.
The main focus is, however, on Padraic Ganly himself, a Moate-born man who was a member of that diaspora.
Ganly, a talented fiddler who left Ireland at just 18, went on to become a prosperous farmer in Argentina. But the legacy this documentary celebrates is the trove of musical compositions he left behind.
Sadly, his 1918 publication ‘Poblacht na hÉireann: 110 original Irish dance tunes and other pieces for violin, flute, etc composed by Padraic Ganly’ is the only one of four volumes of his original music still surviving.
The film was commissioned by the Westmeath Heritage Office, as one of the final of Westmeath’s Decade of Centenaries projects, and among those present in Tuar Ard on Thursday night for the launch were the talented Tang musician Geraldine McLynn and some of her young protégés from The Tang Fiddle Club who played some of Ganly’s music both in the film and at the launch.
Ganly tunes were also played live on the night by the music group dBize, and dBize member Neil Fitzgibbon was among those who contributed to the film.
Guests of honour at the event were, from the Argentine embassy, Ambassador Ann-Laura Cachaz, who officially launched the film, and the embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, Nicolas Vidal. They were warmly welcomed by county council cathaoirleach, Cllr Liam McDaniel.
“Ambassador, your presence underlines the strong ties between Ireland and Argentina,” Cllr McDaniel said.
Cllr McDaniel also welcomed the members of the Ganly family present as well as relatives of the late politician Laurence Ginnell and his wife Alice, who are remembered in Ganly’s music.
Ambassador Cachaz said Don Patricio Ganly’s legacy is just one of the many examples of what the Irish who emigrated to Argentina did and achieved.
“There are great stories of the Irish that went to our country and who chose Argentina as their home. They did remarkable things and all these stories constitute the tight bond that are a great base for the relationships between our countries,” she said.
Una Byrne, chairperson of the Longford Westmeath Argentina Society, spoke to say how happy the society was to be involved in the event: “My hope is that this evening of celebration will inspire and encourage maintaining those links [between Ireland and Argentina],” she said. “It’s important that the stories are told; that they’re preserved and recorded before it’s too late.”
Heritage officer Melanie McQuade, extended thanks to all involved in the project, and stated that the video can be viewed on the Westmeath Heritage Office’s YouTube channel.