I enjoy reading them.
However in reality here in Ireland,
we are just being ourselves,
and do not really think about our culture.
I had a great experience a couple of weeks ago,
that allowed me to sit back and observe,
exactly what it is to be Irish.
It was a beautiful sunny bank holiday weekend,
and my husband and I were invited to an Irish night,
called an Oiche Scriocht.
This is a night of singing and music.
The tradition goes back to the old days,
before television, radio or even electricity,
when people would collect in a house,
and enjoy a night of stories, songs, poetry and dance.
I grew up in Dublin,
but because both my parents were from Donegal,
I had some experience of rural Ireland.
However this was something very new.
Usually singing songs and telling stories,
comes at the end of a good night spent in a pub or a house,
where no one was left thirsty.
At an Oiche Scriocht the singing begins at 9pm,
and most drink tea!
Gathered in the house were about twenty people,
of differing ages.
Many had travelled long distances,
including one man who had cycled over thirty kilometers.
The ‘Fear An Ti”, ( the MC) was a wonderful character.
He personified everything visitors wish to meet,
when they come to Ireland.
He speaks the most descriptive English,
and is deeply passionate about Ireland.
He began the night by introducing the first singer.
His intro went something like this.
“Firstly I’d like to introduce a great pal of mine,
a friend for over forty years.
He and his family lived just two fields away from us,
and I’ll let you know his was the bigger field.
And while I’m at it, I’ll tell you,
his family had a fine size of a farm too!
But sure we wont hold that against him.
Although my father often had a lot to say on the matter.”
And so he went on.
Telling stories or making witty observations about everyone,
before they would sing.
As I sat there I was enthralled.
I was so conscious of the rich tradition,
we were re enacting.
I thought of my blog and how I love to write.
Yet listening to the people there that night,
I realized writing is my second love,
real life story telling my first.
Maybe it is something in my DNA,
an inherited love going back centuries.
As I listened I heard more than the songs.
I could hear the voices of our ancient past.
Many of the songs were very old,
about Ireland, rebellion, love, and emigration.
It was impossible not to be moved,
by the beautiful lyrics expressing great sadness and grief,
as many said “Good bye” forever to loved ones,
or the loneliness of those for “the auld country”,
as they took up residence in America and Canada.
I did not wish for the night to end.
But eventually we had sung our last song,
and it was time for us all to drift away.
I left feeling so proud to be Irish.
However the sad reality is Ireland is changing.
Many in our country do not know our own language.
They are so intent on making us all European,
that they push French and Spanish,
and consider Irish a waste of time.
I had an Irish teacher who greatly influenced me.
I can clearly remember him saying,
“The British did not need to fight us so hard,
they could have waited for television to arrive,
and watch our culture die”.
We are being swallowed up,
our traditions slowly dying.
I can only hope that whatever has been passed onto me,
from the generations before,
continues to emerge from within my own children.
I would love to believe that my grandchildren
will grow up to be,
the story telling, craic loving, hospitable people,
we like to think we are today.