I wanted to include some of the memories of our Ireland trip from the singers……
This trip was a dream come true for me. All of my life I have wanted to experience a tour that I could sing with. Thanks to our SCWC my dream came true. It was great in every way possible. A complete honor to sing for the Mayors and at the other beautiful cathedrals. It truly took my breath away touched my soul.
When I look back on my time in Ireland with the SOCO Women’s Chorus it is not one place or one event that comes to mind but rather a beautiful animation of many hues, shapes, textures, smiles and sounds. From the smiles and conversations with women I got to know on a new and deeper level, the green of hills and pastures, the rough grey of rocks and castles, the woolly goodness of an Irish sweater, the melodies soaring through the Cathedrals to the bleating of a lamb, the laughter in (many) pubs, and sometimes some tears, jigs being danced while fiddles, guitars and concertinas rang, Guinness and Smithwick’s being poured, the walking in ancient places, the lilt of an Irish voice calling out, “Hey! Texas!” and the fellow feeling for a simple Irish Blessing from the politically important to the woman sitting in the back pew. These are the things I remember about our Irish tour. I’m proud that I am “Kathleen Bannon”…and a true Irish descendant.
It’s hard to sing when you’re crying. Your chest gets tight and your throat wants to close up. Sometimes your voice cracks a little when you wish it wouldn’t. I cried a lot when I was singing in Ireland, and I noticed that our audiences were often crying as well. At first I fought it – tried to cram down that welling up that so wanted to overtake me. But as I realized that this powerful emotion was far greater than my will, I let go of resistance and went along for the ride. My tears took me to an open heart that was as vast as the view from the top of the Cliffs of Moher; and to a well of compassion that was a deep as the anguish felt by the parents who left their children behind during the famine. I cried for the joyful lightness of being in the fairy garden in the rain and the sweet purity of a penny whistle’s tune. I wept at The Parting Glass, as I am sure I will every time I hear it. I am left with a deep longing to connect with those I met there (and those I didn’t) and those with whom I shared this extraordinary experience.
There came from Texas a chorus,
Who sang with voices most joyous.
We laughed and we smiled,
And crisscrossed the wild
Irish counties and country and forest.
When the chorus from Texas was touring,
This song from their hearts came pouring:
It was the “Mermaids Lament”
Until Janey did relent,
To their harmonies most alluring.
There once was a chorus who hailed
From Austin. The Irish they assailed
They drank pints of beer,
And never did fear,
For “Ave Maria” they nailed.
The trip to Ireland with the chorus was a great time for both me and Geno on many levels. I’d never taken more than a day tour on a bus since high school but I felt quite at ease, knowing that I just needed to sit back and let the adventure unfold. I was generally stress free, except for my aching back and feet. It’s easy to be in Ireland. The color green is thought to be a stress reliever. I felt as though I’d been there before, maybe because of historical memory, ancestry, cultural knowledge through books, movies and music. I felt the same way in England. I’ll have to try Scotland next. My favorites were the performances, especially Kylemore Abbey, COPE, and St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral. This was something that I never could have done on my own. We had to be there together, having those shared experiences that come around so very seldom in a lifetime. I’ll definitely travel there again some day.
I’d like to start by pointing out that I felt like I was taken to the airport kicking and screaming when leaving Ireland. My heart hurt leaving Eire. I fell in love with the land, the people, the scrumptious food! There are many memories that stand out, and one of my favs was when we sang for our service engagement at COPE Galway. It was a deeply moving moment to sing the Irish Blessing and have members of the audience singing along and being touched, as well, by our wish for them. They spoiled us with buns, tea, or coffee; and they provided traditional Irish music entertainment, which was a blast. Our time there was not long enough, sigh.
My paragraph is about Kylemore Abbey: