Peadar Ó Riada recently took the road north to Bellaghy, determined to pay tribute to Seamus Heaney. He sat at the piano in the Helicon room of the Heaney Home Place and he gave soul and airs to the poet’s memory. Sometimes he was elegant but on occasion, the notes were awry, loose. It was not about finesse, but he absolutely meant it.
Peadar has achieved much with his music, his arrangements and his guidance of the Cór Chúil Aodha, a male choir from Muskerry, Co. Cork. They sing as Gaeilige in an intense, spiritual manner. The choir was formed in 1964 by Seán Ó Riada, his dad, who brought a radical ear to Irish music in the late Fifties and across the next decade. Seán was only 40 when he died but the legacy was vast. Two weeks before he passed, he asked his son to look after the choir. The boy was 16. Peadar put marks on the keyboard and thus he could manage the chords. He was off.