An Irish Observation

Jack hits the ground running and gets his blog post out on time – –

On St Patrick’s Day I’m taking the liberty of copying a quote from a message I received this morning from a friend.

Music is what language would be if it could. It returns us, in sometimes fleeting but sustaining moments to our true and highest selves. Ireland has a significant store of traditional music and there is a great diversity of style and nuance. Each region has a distinctive tradition. One can hear the contours of the landscape shape the tonality and spirit of the music. The memory of the people is echoed in the refrains. Traditional Irish music can be joyous and lively. The reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas and slides have tremendous energy and passion. In the slow airs and ballads the wistfulness of loss and sorrow is piercing. When one considers the history of suffering the Irish have endured through colonization, famine and emigration, it is fascinating that our music has such heart. Indeed some of the greatest and most distinctive Irish music developed among Irish emigrants, especially in America, and must have been one of their few shelters in exile.  Arriving in a strange land and having to work hard, far away from their family, friends and home landscapes, their music must have opened secret doors in  memory and allowed the heart to come home again. There was a sense that music is a homecoming. When they felt lost and forsaken, they rejoiced in this universal language that crosses all frontiers and barriers.

 The music of the people offers a unique entry into their unconscious life. The tenor of what haunts and delights becomes audible there. The cry of the people is in their music. The mystery of the music is its uncanny ability to coax harmony out of contradiction and chaos. And always there is an abiding kind of vitality and sustaining integrity to the music. I know of friends of mine who when they play, they are unreachable. You cannot find them. They are serving the music. They are in another place.

 So music does not touch merely the mind and senses; it engages that ancient and primal presence we call soul. The soul is never fully at home in the social world we inhabit. It is too large for our contained, managed lives. It reminds us that we are children of the eternal and that our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth, creativity and finding beauty. This is what music inspires. It evokes a world where that ancient beauty can resonate within us again. The eternal echoing of music reclaims us for a while for our true longing.

  • John O’Donohue, 1956 – 2008

2 Comments

Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

2 responses to “An Irish Observation

  1. Ellen

    Absolutely beautiful and so very true! It makes me think about my longing for my home state and the mountains. The connection is really about the Soul. Thank you for putting that whole sense of loss into a different perspective.

  2. Jack here – many thanks for your comment. Yes – it is about soul and the only song I ever wrote is exactly about that!

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