A sumptuously-costumed, beautifully shot feature-length film of the music of Anakronos’ The Red Book of Ossory – medieval meets jazz – and its historical backstory of a notorious witch hunt in 14th century Kilkenny.
The Island of Saints is based on an important 14th century medieval manuscript, The Red Book of Ossory, which was compiled in Kilkenny and is housed there in St Canice’s Cathedral. Pre-eminent among the manuscript’s texts are sixty remarkable Latin poems by Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory. The bishop instructed that these lyrics be sung by the priests, clerks and choristers of the St Canice’s “on the important holidays and at celebrations in order that their throats and mouths, consecrated to God, may not be polluted by songs which are lewd, secular, and associated with revelry, and, since they are trained singers, let them provide themselves with suitable tunes according to what these sets of words require”. Accordingly, Caitríona O’Leary, music director of Anakronos, has set de Ledrede’s esoteric and imagistic poetry to music from a multitude of medieval sources.
RICHARD DE LEDREDE
Fourteenth century Ireland was a time of invasions, war, lawlessness, famine and plague. A time of fear, violence and almost unimaginable mutability.
In 1317 Richard de Ledrede – an English Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor – arrived in Kilkenny as the new Bishop of Ossory (1317 – 1361) and immediately set about challenging the secular authorities and making a name for himself as a zealous moraliser and “scourge of heresy”. He was responsible instigating and presiding over the famous witchcraft trial of Dame Alice Kyteler, composed a fantastical and nightmarish list of charges against her and others, and caused the first person in recorded history to be burned at the stake for the heresy of witchcraft; Dame Alice’s servant, Petronilla de Meath.
The film is shot in the beautiful 13th century Swords Castle (the best surviving example of an Archbishop’s Palace in Ireland) and the woodlands in Malahide castle demesne.
This film is not captioned. The lyrics sung in the film are in Latin. There is no spoken dialogue. The action is interspersed with blocks of text on the screen. The film is approximately 75 min.
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Anakronos was founded by singer Caitríona O’Leary in 2019 with the objective of creating an ensemble devoted to performing and recording compelling, accessible and moving performances of early music from a new and modern perspective. Anakronos creates virtuosic interpretations of rare and generally unknown works that engender an exciting interplay between the music of the past and today. The ensemble features five of Ireland’s leading interpreters of medieval music, contemporary classical, traditional and jazz creating a vital new sound.
The Arts Council (music), Begin Together Arts Fund, Fingal Arts Centre, Fingal County Council, Dublin City Arts Office.
Project Arts Centre is proud to be supported by the Arts Council Ireland and Dublin City Council.
Contains adult content.