Ireland Memories

Sunday, June 8, 2008 - written by Sue Carlson

After our wonderful Irish breakfast at the Days Hotel in Galway, we boarded the bus for a drive through the Coast of Connemara and the Lakes. While traveling, Julie reviewed our concert of the night before at St. Nicholas. We oversang. And we were flat. But as someone commented, “Only the reverb was flat.” We got a good laugh from that.

Ireland pic 7

Our tour guide Chris pointed out a small stone bridge that was in an American film, The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Since the area was mostly carpet bogs, there were fields of drying peat laid out in rows or neatly stacked piles. An Irish “barbeque” takes place every year in one town-food is cooked on shovels over peat fires in wheelbarrows. Chris commented that peat has a distinctive odor, and hopped off the bus to acquire a peat sample which he passed around. I took a small piece for a souvenir. It was hard as rock.

There were lots of free grazing sheep as well as some cows. Jean called to some of the animals in their native tongues! Dividing the herds were stone fences - lots of them. We asked about the different colored sheep butts since most appeared to have been spray-painted red or blue. Chris explained that male sheep are painted so that when they mate, the paint adheres to the butt of the female. It’s a way to tell where the males have been!

Ireland pic 7

We pulled into the parking lot of Kylemore Abbey, walked to a small bridge and were startled by a view of the estate across the lake - a castle nestled in the greenery. As we made our way toward the Abbey for rehearsal, the scenery only got better. Rhododendrons, moss covered rocks and ferns made it feel magical, like leprechauns were lurking about.

We practiced in the Abbey. Our audience kept growing in size to the point there was standing room only at the end; however, when Julie enquired, no one was a true Irish native! There was a small group from Michigan, some Arabian (?) guys in black turbans, and a German couple who spoke with Julie later. I also heard there were some nuns who spoke to several members after the performance. It was an emotional experience, enhanced by Julie’s complement “very good” which we heard TWICE (after “Morning has Broken” and “The King of Love”). Jean performed after we were done, and I was able to hear her clear strong voice from outside, echoing beautifully. Jean and Julie’s duet was incredible. We had a group picture outside while we were being eaten alive by midges (biting gnats).

There was more time for touring the grounds before leaving. Several rode to the gardens, others hiked down the paved pathway. The bus ride back to Days Hotel in Galway was full of snores, as young and old alike wound down. Chris could sense the magical feeling in the group, as he explained some of the “luminescence” that is created with sun and mist. A Jodi Joke occurred later with this very idea!

What a great day!