Music is a form of communication that relates to all human beings that it is found all over this planet. I have become intrigued as to how it intertwines itself with all aspects of life and the places in which it takes hold of the culture. Finding the people and places that inspire powerful and meaningful music is what makes me thrive as a student of music.
During my semester abroad in Cork City, Ireland, I was given the privilege to head across the country to the small, coastal village of Doolin, Co. Clare for the Micho Russell Memorial Weekend Festival. Micho Russell “was one of Ireland’s best-known traditional musicians” and came to be a large proponent in the revival of Irish Traditional Music in the mid 20th century (Thielan). The festival brings musicians and Irish music aficionados from across the country and world to Doolin every February. My goal for this trip and project was to participate in all the festival had to offer along with experiencing the natural and historical sites and landscape that the town and area had to offer.
While in Doolin, I spent my first evening listening to “trad,” or Irish Traditional Music, players in a session at one of the local pubs and got to chat with a couple of fiddle players who had come all the way from Norway to be a part of this collaborative festival. The way that these players come together from all over the country and world to play and share what they love is truly inspiring as a musician and budding Irish singer myself. During the following morning, I walked the two miles from my bed and breakfast to the Doolin Cave. I encountered an old site of a stone church along with many small clusters of stone houses that were once the homes of families along the coast. The Doolin Cave, though nothing much to look at from the outside, contains the world’s third longest known free-hanging stalactite. Our tour guide, Diarmuid, told us all about the excavation and the natural processes that had caused this cave to exist.
From our tour and visit to the Cave, we headed back into town to see the featured performer of the festival, Sean Keane. The Doolin Community Center was packed to the gills as we all listened intently to songs from Caledonia to The Rose of Avondale, famous folk tunes from the British Isles.
Not on this trip, but another, I visited the Cliffs of Moher, a stunning Irish natural landmark also located in Doolin that cannot be expressed through words or pictures, but through one’s own visit and experience.
Thanks to the generosity of The Romeo/Gilbert Intercultural Endowment I was able to experience, firsthand, some of the ways in which Ireland expresses its culture and identity: through music, natural landscape, and most importantly its people.
Thielan, Ilsa. "The Russells." Russell Memorial Weekend Festival. Russell Memorial Weekend Committee, 2012. Web.