Pale Rays of Sun at the Winter Solstice

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Entrance to Bru na Boinne. Photo by Sue, 2009.

Today I awoke to a gray morning, but within an hour the pale December sun, low in the sky, asserted itself and softened the day.  This morning in Co. Meath, Ireland, people gathered in the dark passage at Newgrange to welcome the beam of sun down the shaft of the tomb.  The sun came out in time to illuminate the interior of the passage–for the first time since 2007.

The inside of the tomb is elegantly carved and constructed.  Recently I happened upon a high quality virtual tour of the interior. at Voices from the Dawn.  While I’ve visited the actual site twice, I’d recommend the virtual tour for a closer, leisurely gaze at the features of the interior.  Here it is.  Notice that there is a clickable link to either a regular or tablet version.  You might also enjoy a post from this blog entitled Winter Solstice in the House of the Dagda.

And now for a glorious concert by Ann and Charlie Heymann, performed at the Moore Institute at NIU Galway earlier this year, where Ann enjoyed a fellowship.  The title is:  Guth Binn agus Téada Oir: Bardic Voices, Horns & Medieval Harps.  Ann and Charlie perform a number of bardic pieces, some quite experimental.  The Donegal singer, Lillis O Laoire, performs with them.  This is a highly unique and rare opportunity to see Ann perform in concert, and it is well worth watching.

With warmest solstice good wishes,

–Sue

Interview with Ann Heymann, Siobhán Armstrong, and Talitha MacKenzie on Irish Radio

The 10th annual Scoil na gCláirseach in Kilkenny, Ireland has just ended, and why not find out more about some of its most interesting tutors and students?

Students at Scoil na gClairseach, 2009. Photo by Sue.

Here’s a link to an interview on KCLR, a radio station in Carlow/Kilkenny, Ireland.  You’ll hear Siobhán introduce the program with a brief history of the Summer School of the Early Irish Harp, with a delightful, intelligent explanation of replica harps, and how they are different in sound and materials from modern harps.  She clacks on her deliciously resonant soundbox for the benefit of the listeners, and goes on to play Eleanor Plunkett by Carolan on her Kortier Trinity College harp.  Then Talitha MacKenzie offers a brief example of puirt-a-beul, or mouth music, and the master of the instrument, Ann Heymann, closes with a short piece she learned from the fiddler James Kelly.  Check it out, as I don’t know how long the link will be active.  A special thanks to scholar Karen Loomis for pointing out the interview.

Wishing you a fine late summer,

–Sue

Harpers at Brighid: a Treasure House of Offerings

Harpers comprehend the significance of the fire festival of Brighid, dedicated to the goddess of smithcraft, poetry and healing.  It also signals the early stirrings of spring.  In honor of Brighid, here is a harper’s assortment of treasures.

Enjoy the new Scoil na gCláirseach video, which gives a glimpse into the special world created by the marvelous staff for one week of each summer in Kilkenny, Ireland.

If you are smitten by the sound of Griogair Labhruidh’s singing at the end of the video clip, enjoy the whole performance of this lament, entitled Cumha Choir’ an Easain.

Another treasure, announced at Brighid:  Javier Sainz has a new website.

Here is a fourth treasure:  an article about Ann Heymann entitled “Brigid, Imbolc, and the Gaelic Harp,” published in 2008 in Eolas, a druidic journal.

And a fifth:  a glimpse of Vicente la Camera’s handsome new MacDonald Trinity clarsach.  Listen to Vicente play Carolan’s Lament for Owen Roe O’Neill.

Enjoy these small beauties, and join me in celebrating music, song, poetry, and those extraordinary harpers living and working among us.  In honor of Brighid,

–Sue

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