Beartla Ó Flatharta was born in Rossaveal, Ballinahown in July 1942. He was the youngest of five siblings. Both his parents came from musical backgrounds so music and singing was part of everyday life. In his local national school singing both Irish and English and learning to read music was on a par with all other subjects. Beartla’s life-long love of history was fostered there by teacher Tadgh O Shea. He had learned to play the tin whistle from his oldest brother Seán and his uncle Mike Malone who played the accordion and were his first mentors.
In 1958 the family moved from Rossaveal to Kilmacredock Maynooth Co. Kildare to a completely different way of life. Beartla initially worked the land with his parents helping to build up a small dairy herd. He then got a job as an apprentice carpenter and saved money to buy a car. He was now able to seek out musicians both locally and in Dublin. He met the Gill Family from Donedea and they opened many doors for him musically. He bought a red Paolo Soprani and was later able to buy a Willie Rowsome set of pipes. He travelled far and wide to listen to and to play music. Beartla became proficient at playing many instruments which included, uilleann pipes, accordion, flute and tin whistle also sean nós singing.
In 1979 Gaelscoil Uí Dhalaigh was formed. All the local musicians got involved and got to know each other and held weekly sessions of music, song and dance to raise funds.
In 1981 the local branch of Comhaltas Léim an Bhradáin was formed, from that day on music had found a home and now thirty four years later the branch is stronger than ever.
I met Beartla in 1966 and married in 1969, we then went on to have eight children. Our youngest Úna and Róisin were born in 1986 it was a very busy house. Beartla always made time for music sessions and anything of a cultural nature, such as collecting superstitions from Connemara for a master’s student from the University of Maynooth. He was very much a family man who never forgot his roots or his native language. Thankfully his family are carrying on the music tradition. His untimely death in 1991 at just 49 years was a devastating loss to us all .
The branch was renamed in his honour in 1991, and is now known as Craobh Bheartla Uí Fhlatharta.
Máire Uí Fhlatharta