Showing posts from February, 2013

Circles, spirals, links and layers.

Last weekend, at the end of Ireland's Dingle peninsula, singers, musicians, students, teachers and locals, all gathered in Ballyferriter, a little village that gets taken over each spring by a dynamic school and festival of traditional Irish music. Every year each available room in the village gets colonised - in the school, the pubs, the café, shops and the local museum. There are classes on a multitude of instruments, including the harp, fiddle, accordion, bodhrán, banjo and mandolin, pipes, flute, mouth organ and concertina. There’s set dancing and step dancing. And then, at night, there are concerts with lineups of traditional musicians that bring audiences from Europe and America as well as from all over Ireland. As long as I’ve been coming to Corca Dhuibhne I’ve heard discussions about how changing customs are changing the way that traditional music’s shared. Now, when everything’s globally accessible and often shared through video and sound files, individ

Who Needs St. Valentine?

I have nothing at all against St. Valentine. He's a perfectly good excuse for consuming chocolate. And, given that there appear to be at least eleven possible versions of him, he's a very typical Christian saint.  Among the many legends about him is one which claims he was an early Christian priest, martyred for secretly marrying ancient Roman lovers. Another says he was a bishop who cured a pagan judge's daughter of blindess, converted the judge and baptised him, but later was stoned to death. Most of the stories make him Roman. But there's also a fairly convincing theory that both the saint and his cult of love were invented by the medieval English poet Chaucer, who also decided his feast day should be February 14th.  Typical too, are the stories about Valentine's relics. Venerated bits of him turn up all over the place, a fact that's a bit embarrassing because his complete body's supposed to be enshrined in a cathedral in Birmingham, Englan