Thursday, August 31, 2023


This past July, I fell in love with Galway—an ancient arts and festival city on Ireland's west coast. 

Our walking tour guide began Galway's history with a special nod to Pádraic Ó Conaire—born in Galway in 1882—a writer and ally of the Irish language and independence. His statue is situated in the main square; due to politics, it has been revered and ridiculed, moved several times, and once beheaded. Despite everything it has overcome since its establishment the statue has persevered. Like Ireland itself, Pádraic has endured a lot, yet remains robust and undefeated.  

Speaking of enduring individuals, while we traveled in Ireland, Sinead O'Connor died. Coincidentally, I was listening to her memoir in her own voice: this experience felt so bittersweet, like a surprise gift I didn't deserve, and a poignant reminder of how much art means to me personally but also stirs and sustains us all. 

I feel compelled to share something from her memoir, Rememberings. She explained that when her career ended after SNL, she felt free! The music industry suppressed that she was a protest singer so they could market her as a pop star. She aimed to use her unparalleled voice to spread light through songs, but also shed light on darkness—a darkness she experienced personally as did so many in Ireland but a darkness no one wanted to acknowledge at the time—abuse, racism, greed. Her words: “They broke my heart and they killed me, but I didn't die. They tried to bury me, they didn't realize I was a seed.” Indeed.


Anvilcloud said...

You tied this up nicely.

jenny_o said...

So many artists are mistreated and strait-jacketed by the industry. It often results in the rise of the mediocre instead of the best.

Your post made me curious as to what you meant by the Irish language. Turns out it's Gaelic. The Scottish Gaelic is related; there has been a significant effort in Nova Scotia to preserve the Scottish Gaelic. There are geographical pockets of native speakers but they are mostly elderly folks now, so there are Gaelic classes to help train a new generation and also non-Scots who'd like to learn.

DB Stewart said...

Thanks to people like Padraic whose activism influenced national pride and eventually curriculum, we learned in Ireland that many young Irish now speak their native language. We also learned that the EU has a program where young people can travel to other EU countries in the summer and learn various languages. These are very important practices not only to preserve language and culture, but to help build connections among cultures.

jenny_o said...

That is good to hear.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wonderful post! I hope you'll share other things about your trip to Ireland.

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