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Daffodils in our meadow
Spring has sprung now here in Ireland and we’re in the middle of Seachtaine na Gaeilge, or Irish week in English, the period of time surrounding Lá le Padraig, St. Patrick’s Day. I say‘period of time’ since it’s officially a 2 week celebration and for some it’s a month long celebration. There are event’s happening everywhere and it’s a great time to enjoy a variety of music, art, dance, literature, food and just about anything you can remotely connect to the ‘wearing of the green’ or celebrating Irish culture. It’s also the month when all the politicians disappear from Dublin to participate in parades around the world. A different Flight of the Wild Geese, that.
In Macroom, the local town the Lion’s Club there is celebrating in grand style by staging a fund raising event to beat all—a mouse race. They borrow eight mice from the pet shop in the city and then create race lanes for them and sell the lanes and have heats and then on site betting the evening of the event. The race is filmed on CCTV and then broadcast out to the room so no one feels left out and all can see who is winning. There are about 8 different races but with only 16 mice they change the names of the mice for every other race so no one can tell who’s the best one at figuring out how to get from one end of the race lane to the other. Sometimes the race lasts seconds and sometimes ages as the mice decide whether they will go forward, wait around or go all the way to the end and just before they get
there turn around and run to the start.
On the more traditional side in Macroom it’s the time of the big parade. And who is the biggest feature there? The Philadelphia Mummers’
Woodland String Band. Yes I kid you not. I can’t escape them. Yes here in Ireland the heart of experiencing a St. Patrick’s Day and I get New Year’s Day in Philadelphia. This year they are back again for the 11thor 12th year (can’t remember). I heard today that last night they were playing in the Castle Hotel café and above was the weekly bridge group. The playing was so loud the bridge group couldn’t concentrate. What is that racket? Anyway they abandoned the bridge and decided to join them rather than try and beat 'the racket.'
St. Patrick’s Day is a day of religious observation here still, though the celebration factor seems to have risen to the fore. Here in the Ballyvourny/Coolea area there are still some who would be aware that it is also the time of Naomh Abán’s feast day. St. Abán, is a local male saint who was contemporary with St. Gobnait, our patron saint around here. St. Aban had a small community just down the road a way from me. There are three little stellae/standing
stones and a well where he’s buried. One of the stones is an ogham inscription. His thigh bone is there tucked away from the elements.
It’s a site of veneration and rounds are done there, especially on his feast day.
Back when I was in Philadelphia during this period I would be madly going around to the many Irish music events that appeared in this month,
getting my feast in that would normally have to last me for the rest of the
year. Here I’m so fortunate to have the Ionad Cultura, the Culture Center down in the village and the coordinator there, Bríd (a talented and known musician herself) gets some amazing people appearing there. Even now in the downturn (or however you want to euphemistically term it) she’s done wonders in attracting well known names. This past Saturday we had the local talent, many of whom win national awards and honours and the little kids coming up in it singing and performing various styles of traditional singing. One fine singer, a young woman named Nell Ní Cronín, was just named Singer of the Year by TG4 (Nations TV station for Irish). After the local talent we had the fine singer and musician Sean Keane.
I first saw Sean in Philadelphia at the Commodore Barry Club/Irish Center in Mt. Airy. It was long enough ago that I won’t embarrass him or myself by saying the year. In any case he’s wearing well and so is his voice. He was
in great form and and the audience was too; it was the type of night when he could just easily launch into la la la when he forgot the words in the middle of a Mayo song and everyone forgave him. A great lark. He had two encores and left us asking for more. My friend, a real fan, was thrilled when he opened with the song she’d sing often when out with the choir. It’s a Robbie O’Connell song about emigration –Back Across the Ocean (or something like that—forgive me for not remembering). It’s sad to say
that it’s relevant again, for so many young ones are emigrating.
Her own sister is in North Carolina, which made it even more poignant
when Sean Keane sang, ‘Galway to Graceland’ the song her sister loved to sing when she was out with the choir.
With Sean Keane to tide me over to the next event I am back to my keyboard working like a little beaver here. I have completed my edits for the novel and that is on track. The book trailer is in the making and my postcards should be done soon so it is all perking along. It’s the biography
on Anahareo that has taken off suddenly and, it seems to me, at lightening
speed. The edits are done, a cover tentatively selected and it seems it will be coming out in May. I’m working hard getting the publicity together for that and then turn my thoughts to making a book trailer for the biography. It's all go.
Kristin Gleeson is a writer, artist and musician who lives in the west of Ireland in the Gaeltacht.
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