The Pipes Are Calling.... A Musical Connection To My Ancestral Roots

May 30, 2017  •  5 Comments

The infrequent blogger is back with a new tale to tell: This month, May 2017, I was so very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Ireland, my ancestral homeland, with two good friends from my high school days.  We landed in Dublin and drove north to Belfast and then further north along the wild North Atlantic coastlands, before swinging south to Derry (Londonderry to the Unionists). It was a fantastic and exhilarating experience with inspiring and majestic landscapes, charming people, delicious pints of Guinness and music that went deep into my heart and soul and set my feet “a tapping”. One of the highlights of the adventure was the Sunday afternoon that we spent at Sandino’s Pub in Derry. We were advised that it was the best place in the city to hear traditional Irish music from 5:00 to 9:00. Named after the famous Nicaraguan revolutionary Augusto Sandino, the pub definitely has a counter culture alternative vibe as evidenced from the décor, the bartender who had the look of a Caucasian version of Ho Chi Minh and the cosmopolitan mix of patrons. On this particular afternoon there were about ten to twelve musicians gathered around a table in one corner of the pub, filling the place with the richest and sweetest traditional Irish music. The tunes flowed from jigs to reels, to ballads, vocals and instrumentals; it was a moveable feast of instruments which included fiddles, pipes, penny whistles, concertinas, banjos and guitars. As I mentioned before, Ireland is the land of my roots. It is where both my maternal and paternal grandparents were born and lived before they immigrated to the States at the turn of the twentieth century. They were from the counties to the west, Mayo and Kerry. As I was listening to the music that afternoon in Derry, I knew that long ago my grandparents must have danced to some of the very same tunes. I felt that those melodies were imbedded in my DNA and the emotions they brought forth were both joyous and bittersweet, it was as if through this music I was connecting to the long line of my Irish ancestors.  It was, as they would say in Ireland, a lovely experience. 

This musician's name is Gabriel Fitzgerald. He was a master of multiple instruments including the mandola, shown here, Uilleann Pipes, the penny whistle and I'm sure several others.

 


Comments

deasún(non-registered)
Hi Paul , I'm the fiddler (in the hat) remember you taking these pictures, very much captured the atmosphere of the session! Was a pleasure having you wishing you well on your travels and maybe a return to us Slán a chara
Tony(non-registered)
I was there with you but keep coming back to your pictures and story, which in a way is my story. The difference is you say it, I think it. GREAT job on the photos and narrative.
Kevin(non-registered)
Great images, Paul. Love the black-and-white. Hope you were able to share them with Sandinos.
Shelley(non-registered)
These wonderful images do show the spirit and artistic flavor of the day.
Regina whyatt(non-registered)
I feel your joy and fullness of emotions. I to met a few of those guys in Derry and from Ireland. And the music call for me to go home gets stronger each passing year. The music touches parts no one can understand if theys not lived it. Loved your blog. Very moving. Just reading it bring back my fond memories. Thank you
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