Saturday, July 17, 2010

“Maybe it’s bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us.” — Nancy O’Keefe.

There was a time when the mere survival of Irish traditional music was not at all a sure thing.

In January 1951, representatives of the Thomas Street (Dublin) Pipers’ Club went to Mullingar for a meeting with traditional music enthusiasts from County Westmeath. Two ideas which had already been mentioned amongst traditional musicians were discussed at this meeting; the first was the founding of an organisation to promote Irish traditional music while the second was the organising of a great annual festival of Irish traditional music, song and dance. A further meeting was held in February, and at this meeting it was decided that, in conjunction with Feis Lár na hÉireann (a Gaelic League Feis which had been held in Mullingar for many years), a Fleadh Cheoil would be organised in the town in May over the Whit weekend.

In the years before the Fleadh, although the ordinary people of Ireland loved traditional music, the hundreds of traditional musicians in the country were largely unappreciated in popular social and intellectual circles. The aim of the Fleadh was to promote traditional music and to arrest the decline in its popularity. The cream of traditional Irish musicians attending the Fleadh played a major role in furthering this aim.

Fleadhanna Cheoil gave traditional musicians a platform where they could play to an appreciative audience and where traditional style was the criterion. That first Fleadh Cheoil in 1951 attracted only a few hundred patrons - a small but enthusiastic crowd. Within five years, however, this annual gathering had grown to become a great National Festival attended by traditional musicians, singers, and dancers from all parts of Ireland and overseas.

On October 14th, 1951, at Árus Ceannt, Thomas Street, Dublin, the first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected. At a meeting in St. Mary’s Hall, Mullingar, on January 6th, 1952, the title of the organisation was changed from Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. We’re a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world, and as you can read in our history we’ve been working for the cause of Irish music since the middle of the last century (1951 to be precise). Our efforts continue with increasing zeal as the movement launches itself into the 21st century.

(Above text taken from

Thanks again to Catherine and Damien, we were able to experience this wonderful look into Irish music- a huge part of Irish Culture. Irish music, as well as the language, sports and literature were great sources of strength and unity for Irish Republicans during each of the rebellions and the Anglo Irish War in particular. This music center teaches and performs Irish music and dance. Another must see if you are living here. It was great!

Uilleann Pipes

Monday, July 12, 2010

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy. ~Anton Chekhov

Summer in Ireland is not what we are used to, and certainly nothing like they are experiencing in New York this year! We have had some really beautiful days. At times it can get quite warm, but never too hot. That doesn't mean that I don't overhear people talking about what a "scorcher" it is! On most days, you could wear a jacket, or not. We haven't had much rain but as always, you never know.

The kids have been in camp everyday. It's almost the same as school in that it is at their school and they are familiar with many of the other kids. The big difference is that the big kids and the little kids are together for the day. For the most part, being with older kids is great. I have heard some new words like "idiot" at home. (Sigh.) More infiltration of our little bubble!

We try to do something everyday after school. but some days the kids are just too tired! They have quite a little 3-year-old life!

Digging in the "good" sand at one of the nicest beaches around here

The waves are not bad!

Painting pottery- a little change of scenery

Taking the train is still a fun thing to do

They will go to any playground, but I need to change it up once in a while!

Spinning is the best

Having a snack on the patio with the ladies

I guess you could call this homework

We brought some American sports to Ireland

Painting with painted faces

Being 3 is Exhausting!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.”- Albert Camus

When talking to American friends and family this week, they all asked "what are you doing for 4th of July?". "Well, nothing" I said, "we don't have that here". We didn't have a 3-day weekend, with beaches and barbecues planned, but we did have some friends coming for dinner. And I did manage to pull out some red, white and blue napkins.

The O'Connors are a great family who have been so amazing and welcoming to us since our first visit to Ireland. We were so glad to have them over and it was a great July 4th!

On a serious note, I really have to say that learning so much about what Ireland has gone through in order to gain the freedom that they have today makes me feel even more appreciative of what we have in the United States. There is something about the fact that the events in Ireland happened less than 100 years ago, and in fact, are still happening that makes it more... relatable?

I also happen to read a story about an Iranian woman who was caught in a miniskirt at a party by the religious police at age 16. She was sentenced to 40 lashes. Many of people don't even have the most basic things that we have. God Bless America! And God Bless Ireland!