IRELAND…..from members of the SoCo Women’s Chorus Chamber Singers

Kylemore Abbey Gothic Chapel Perf

I wanted to include some of the memories of our Ireland trip from the singers……

From Sass:

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.

Sass, Holley, Elaine, Kat & WendySass, Holley, Elaine, Kat & Wendy

From Kat:

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.


From Skippy:

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.

3 generations Skippy, Charlotte & AubreyThree generations on this tour: Skippy, Charlotte & Aubrey


From Sharon:

I loved singing at the Gothic church at Kylemore Abbey because of the intimate setting and beautiful surroundings.  And it really touched everyone when we sang the Irish Blessing and we all got teary with the lady at the back.
And I loved singing with the other choirs in the cathedral, especially “the Parting Glass”. That was amazing!
But my favorite is when, after singing for the seniors at COPE and meeting Ms. Molly, we got to hear them play, sing and dance for us.  What a great moment.  Loved it so much.
COPE performance Mollie
      Singing for COPE Galway   (Sharon is 2nd from my right)                                           Miss Molly in blue!
From Wendy:
[One of the fun things many singers created during our bus rides were limericks.  Here’s some of Wendy’s creation!]
I’m submitting some of my favorite limericks from our trip until I get time to write up my paragraph o’memories:

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.

Wendy & Q at the airportWendy & her beloved “Q”

From Dorothy:

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.

Dorothy & Geno, Cliffs of MoherDorothy & her husband Geno, Cliffs of Moher

From Chris:

Here goes..

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.

Chris at St. Finn Barre's Cathedral, CorkChris at St. Binn Farre’s Cathedral, Cork

From Linda:

My paragraph is about Kylemore Abbey:

Kylemore Abbey is in Connemara County, Galway, Ireland. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting in my life. The magnificent grounds are covered in gorgeous green grass and lovely flowers in rich hues such as violet and gold, as well as countless others. The enormous grey castle, which overlooks a gorgeous lake, is the perfect setting for serene meditation on a bench. Inside the castle, which once housed the Henry family, are these lovely ornate wood carvings in a dark cherry wood. One of the paintings on the wall that I recall was that of beautiful raven haired Margaret Henry in a stunning pink and white gown.
Margaret died of a fever while on family holiday with several of her children and husband Mitchell in Egypt. Mitchell Henry, the lord of the manor, was so bereft at the passing of his love, Margaret, that he had her body embalmed and brought back to Ireland for burial at the future site of the Gothic Church, which he later had constructed as her final resting place.   Mitchell Henry’s actions made the beauty of Kylemore Abbey even more enchanting for me. I could feel the love of the Henry family as I walked through the house and learned of its impressive history.  The dining room was all set up with grand elegant china from the time period and numerous place settings to accommodate  the very large family of the Henry children. As I was leaving the castle, I found myself reflecting on the majestic beauty of the Abbey, so I took the opportunity to just sit peacefully on a bench and meditate on this beautiful sunny day.
The impressive Gothic Church is adorned with green Connemara marble pillars and was the perfect sight for our first performance in Ireland. It is not a large church, but is more like an intimate chapel, just right for a concert. The sound we created in the Gothic church had a glorious reverberation off the walls and pillars, but the most memorable thing for me was the emotive faces of the visitors in the pews of the church. As we sang,  I was struck by the tears I saw falling from a blonde lady, who was seated towards the back. Her tears touched me and I found myself trying to avoid crying myself as I was receiving “the look ” from Janey that meant that I needed to focus on her. To close, we sang ” Irish Blessing”, and I noticed that there were other people in the audience who were crying.
In closing, I have to say that one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland was Kylemore Abbey, although it was quite difficult to choose just one memory to write about. The beauty of the castle, its rich history, the lovely landscape, and the well-received performance in the Gothic Church, all contributed to my conclusion that I must revisit that glorious magical country. Hopefully it will be with the Soco Women’s Chorus sometime in the near future!
Kylemore Abbey Gothic ChapelThe Gothic Church of Kylemore Abbey Kylemore Abbey2
                                                                                                                                                                           Kylemore Abbey
Linda & ChrisLinda & Chris
As more memories come in from the singers, I shall keep adding to this wonderful experience through their eyes!  SLAINTE!

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