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Ireland 2004: Day 2 - Dublin (next >>>)
Left to right-Top to bottom: 1. St. Patrick's Cathedral 2. Interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral 3. Dan outside St. Patrick's Cathedral 4. The Reconciliation Door 5. Another view of St. Patrick's 6. Memorial to harpist Turlough O'Carolan 7. Interior of Guinness Brewery exhibit 8. Old Guinness bottles 9. Dan jamming with Brendan O'Sullivan and Mark Wale at the Musical Pub Crawl
Great Espresso at Fish n’ Chips Place.
Who would have thought some of the best espresso you can find is at this Fish-n-Chips place on O’Connell street? After sipping some morning espresso on O’Connell street, we drove by St. Patrick’s Cathedral to snap a few pictures but didn’t go in because services were just letting out.
Guinness Brewery: God is Good, and So is Guinness!
After stopping briefly at St. Patrick’s, we headed over to the Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate.
The self-guided tour takes you through the entire brewing process where you learn about how they mix roasted barley with plain barley, hops and yeast.
In medieval times, monks were known to brew beer, but the science behind the fermentation was unknown at the time. They described the properties of yeast multiplication by simply saying “God is Good!”
Author Guinness, founder of the brewery, was known to be a very generous person – donating a huge sum of money to help re-furbish St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located just a few blocks away.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
After the tour of Guinness, we finished up the afternoon with a beautiful 3:15pm service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The choir even song Handel’s “Messiah” – which Ironically, was first performed in Dublin by Handel himself along with the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, just two blocks up the road. Handel himself once performed a recital in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
St. Patrick's Church is the largest church in Ireland. It's tradition combines both Protestantism and some of the early Celtic Christian traditions. St. Patrick is believed to have baptized new believers at a well just near the cathedral around 450 A.D.
On one of the informational signs, there is a beautiful excerpt from St. Patrick's Confessions:
While in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I wrote down a prayer for Laura Hatch, a youth from Creekside Covenant Church who had been missing for 8 days. (Laura was one of the youths who did some yard work at our house to raise money from the Dominican Republic mission trip earlier this year.)
I discovered later that day that she had been found alive in her wrecked car at the bottom of the ravine. The news was over the place. Later, I found a huge picture and story about it in the Irish tabloid: The Irish Daily Mirror. Amazing!
The Musical Pub Crawl
Went to Oliver St. John Gogartys for a wonderful tour of Irish Music at their nightly “Musical Pub Crawl”. The Pub Crawl was lead by two musicians: fiddle player Brendan O’Sullivan and guitar player Mark Wales. The Pub Crawl starts at Gogartys, moves on to the Ha'penny Bridge Inn, and ends two hours later at some other pub (whose name I forget).
They were both very wonderful story tellers. The highlight of the evening is when the two musicians asked me to come up and join them on the guitar for the last couple tunes! (earlier in the evening, I had mentioned I was a guitar player).
A Bit of Irish Music History
Apparently there are only 3 instruments that are original to Ireland: The harp, the uilleann pipes (pronounced “illen”) and bodhran (pronounced “boran”). The harp itself is the traditional symbol of Ireland (also Guinness logo), and was played mostly by the chieftains of Ireland. The most famous Irish harp player was the 18th-centiry composer Turlogh O’Carolan. O’Carolan was a blind harp player whose melodies resemble more of the style of European Baroque than what we normally recognize as “Irish music”. This early harp player happens to be memorialized with a large plaque in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
During the British Penal laws of the 1700s, the Irish were not allowed to play their traditional music, and a lot of the early tradition (which was not written down or passed on verbally) was lost.
Irish music was not “pub music” until very recently – that is, the last 30 or 40 years.
Before that, Irish music was mostly played in people’s homes, and usually as the backup for dances. The idea of “performing” music for a listening audience was largely un-heard of.
It wasn’t until the 50s and 60s, when a classically-musician Sean O’Ryada brought a virtuoso, formal sensibility to Irish music. At least a couple members of O’Ryada’s band (Paddy Maloney and Matt Malloy?) went on to form The Chieftains.
A new form of virtuosic playing became popular in the 60s and beyond as “super groups” became formed: The Bothy Band, Planxty, The Dubliners. Another interesting phenomenon of the 60s-70s when the folk scene became very strong in America, was the emergence of non-traditional instruments such as the guitar, banjo and bouzouki (a Greek instrument).
“Lilting” is a term used to describe un-accompanied vocalizing without words. Kind of like “scat singing” in Jazz. In some areas of Ireland, where there were no instruments available for the dance, people learned how to imitate instruments by singing or vocalizing the sound. Later, some of these “lilts” had words written to them. For example, “The Little Beggerman”.
There’s an old Irish saying: “If you can’t sing, sing loud!” The main point in traditional Irish music is to simply be expressive, to be part of the community. Traditional Irish music is a very “democratic” style --- everyone is welcome if they know the tune, and you are not judged for doing it poorly.
Various “styles” and methods of playing emerged in various regions in Ireland. For example, the Donegal style is a very fast, almost bluegrass-sounding style, whereas the County Clare style is a much more methodical, slower style. Of the best-known fiddle players from Clare is Martin Hayes -- who actually lives in Seattle. Some of these distinctive, regional styles were impacted by the wide availability of recorded music in the early 20th century. Interestingly, the first known recordings of Irish music were done in America in the 30s.
Both the emergence of radio and recorded music (often sent to Ireland by Irish relatives living in America), changed much of the distinctive flavor of the regional styles – not eliminating it, but allowing for more awareness of and even “cross-pollination” of styles.
Mark Wales, the singer from the pub crawl said he didn’t become aware that some people “don’t sing” until he was in his 20s! Growing up, singing songs was part of this family upbringing just as much as learning to talk. It really inspired me to think about what kind of musical legacy or tradition I might create in my own family.(next >>>)