Irish Trad: Traditional Irish Music on Internet Radio

Photo taken while visiting Kevin Donleavy in December 2012, during my Fulbright Fellowship to Ireland, but visiting Virginia for Christmas. 

A friend of mine in Virginia delivers a radio program of traditional Irish music. Tune in 3-5 pm Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on Saturday, March 2. That’s 10-12 EST to hear Kevin Donleavy’s show!

Learn more about Kevin and how I met him here, about a past show here, and about our dear, departed friend Jerry Crilly here.

A chairde and pals, howreya,

Yes,  time for Irish traditional music on-line again.  The date is this Saturday, March 2,  and the program will be broadcast from 10 am till 12 noon as always. Or 3-5 pm that day in Ireland.  You need visit WTJU.net on the Web,  and then click on the Launch button. Your host, Kevin Donleavy of the O’Neill-Malcom branch of Comhaltas.  So do mark your calendar.
Here are some highlights from the upcoming show :  A couple of selections from the Sweets of May collection of music from South Armagh.  Liam Weldon singing the tremendously touching song, ” Where Is Our James Connolly ?”
Tunes from such fiddlers as Ciaran Tourish and Oisin MacDiarmada and the powerful Mick Conneely.  Lovely uilleann piping from Christopher McMullan’s new compact disc. Two songs from the woman’s band Girsa: “I Courted a Wee Girl,”  and “Mary and the Soldier.”  Cuts from the traditional groups Danu and Teada.  A political song or two, of course.  A seldom played reel called “The Nine Points of Roguery,”  played by the fine Sean Norman Ceili Band.  And more ….
This Saturday, time to wet the tea, roll back the carpet,  and get cracking!  Mi daza!
Kevin

An Evening of Astronauts and Magically Informative Skies

 

Last night’s sky over Dublin was spectacular, and a magical evening unfolded. I’ve been sequestered in my flat here in Dublin for the past few weeks, on a self-imposed writing retreat away from my current home in London.

 

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The view from my balcony, looking south toward Four courts, just beyond the roof of the Cappucian Friary and Padre Pio church.

However, my retreat has transformed into a sort of boot camp. The past few weeks have been like the days I was enrolled full-time for my Ph.D. while holding down my full-time teaching job (and somehow still doing well at both). I’ve been so inwardly focused that I’ve thought of calling this time my ‘hermitage.’ Yet, I’ve been so productive I’ve considered making this an annual thing.

After working straight through the weekend and submitting two big projects Tuesday, I was ready for a break Wednesday evening. And the evening didn’t fail to deliver. It was nothing short of magical.

Remarkable moments I enjoyed:

  • Views from my balcony at sunset.
  • Views of the city center from the top of a double-decker Dublin Bus–before realizing I was heading in the wrong direction and getting nowhere fast!
  • Recognizing, just in time, the error in my plan.
  • A fine fair-weather clip across town on a Dublin Bike, with a long haul up the hill to the far end of Phoenix Park to the residence of the US Ambassador.
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    US Ambassador’s residence in Dublin

    The stunning sight of the Ambassador’s home, tucked under a thick, delightfully-cheerful but ever-so-slightly-ominous blanket of clouds.

  • Clouds lit from the underside by our small but bustling city–a town beaming with holiday cheer and festive lights.
  • Stories of being in orbit from a man who has traveled far above the earth’s surface, in multiple spacecraft.
  • Learning about different types of rockets, and safety procedures that saved the lives of his colleagues in a recent failed mission.
  • Viewing dramatic photos US astronaut Shane Kimbrough captured from space–many from the Russian side of the Space Station, which he says has clearer glass that makes for better pics. img_2158
  • Meandering around the ground floor of the residence and enjoying the architectural details, but unfortunately, not recognizing a soul.
  • The delightful sensory experience of cycling back through the park on my way home. (By this time, the weather was starting to cool and I wished I’d donned the jacket that was tucked in my purse.) I pushed onward, not wanting to break the magic.
  • Parking my Dublin Bike at Blackhall Place, wandering through Smithfield Plaza, and enjoying the plaza’s holiday lights.
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    Music session at the Cobblestone, with Mick O’Grady, Pat Goode, Brenda Malloy, Tony Nugent, and others.

    And finally, stepping through the warm and welcoming front door of the Cobblestone pub, and soaking in greetings of musician friends and bartenders–catching some tunes, and sharing stories after the 7-9:30 session.

This fairy-tale set of events unfolded, after a somewhat odd day. I’d dealt with random, miscellaneous tasks, following on the heels of a week of productive writing and editing. Although this day wasn’t particularly productive, I kept trying.

But I had a particularly strange occurrence while working from home during the day:

A guy knocked on my apartment door and I asked through the solid core panel, “Who is it?” He didn’t say who, but rather that he needed something. I asked what. He said, in pained exasperation, that it was too complicated to explain. He sputtered and stuttered that he’d just have to go tell someone else. Fine by me. Look, if you’re bleeding and you need a doctor, say so. If you can’t explain your problem, I’ve no way to assess if and how I can help. My friends at the pub last night said never, ever open the door. Thanks to both God and good judgment that I didn’t.

I’ve been struggling with my vision and waiting for a new pair of multifocal glasses to arrive. Turns out, my far sight has improved, and this has thrown off all the settings on my progressive lenses. As a result, I’ve been fighting headaches from struggling to find a head-tilt position where I can actually see the screen. This has been going on for months, and I’ve only just gotten to the bottom of it all. A temporary pair of reading glasses is helping, but wearing them is disorienting and headaches still crop up.

So yesterday I was quite ready for a break. I wrapped up my work to head out for an event. I blended up a healthy juice of fruits and veggies–apples, carrots, cucumber, spinach, celery, and ginger–to pep me up for the evening.

I noted the stunning view of clouds rolling into Dublin at sunset. I clicked a photo from my balcony to post on Facebook:

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It’s already feeling like Christmas in Dublin! A bit of a Dickens Christmas, the lighting suggests. 

Such a lovely place to be, in this bright and sunny flat!

I quickly donned a skirt and boots with heels (unusual for me these days) and I zipped out for the bus slightly after 5 PM, en route, I thought, to the US Embassy. I grabbed a seat front and center on the top deck of the bus, and successfully deflected the man-spread in progress in the adjoining seat.

Views from the top deck were lovely! But, a half hour after I’d left home, sitting atop a bus stuck in traffic, I double checked the invite. It was quite clearly sent from the US Embassy, and that’s where I was headed. It’s on the southeast corner of town.

Nevertheless, the event–a public discussion with a highly experienced US Army astronaut–was actually in the other direction!

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The only way through rush hour traffic and up to the US Ambassador’s residence perched on the hill of Phoenix Park was by bike. It’s touted as the largest city park in Europe (or something of that sort), and the Residence is, as I’d come to discover, at the very northwest corner of the park. On the far opposite corner of town.

I had to wait for the bus’s next stop. It goes all the way from the Liffey, around Trinity College, to the far, far end of Nassau Street–almost to Claire Street, between stops. Quite difficult to see all those buildings pass by while wanting to disembark!

Once the bus finally stopped, by the grace of God, I clambered toward the nearest Dublin Bike dock.

Despite the mini-skirt and tall wedge-heeled boots I’d put on, I managed to make good time. I was up to the Ambassador’s in under a half hour. The cycle ride required great physical exertion, but there was no other viable way to get quickly from Trinity to Heuston Station. From the station, I could have taken a cab up and across the Park, but I persevered. After days sitting at the laptop, I needed the exercise.

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Gusts of wind billowed past, pushing a thick blanket of clouds across the winter sky. But it was warm. What a treat–the feel of cycling through the park in this delightful weather (despite rough paving on the cycle lanes, which appear to be under renovation). I felt a deep sense of joy while approaching the formal gates, to be greeted by the cheerful security officers who quickly found my name on their list. The magic of the evening was reinforced by this delightful setting–the Ambassador’s residence was aglow under a dramatic sky.

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The US Ambassador’s Residence is architecturally impressive.

I arrived in time to grab a canapé and a glass of wine before finding a seat. My face, flushed with energy, glowed brightly. The crowd filled three rooms, and so I observed through two different sets of doors. What ensued was delightfully informative. The dialogue was well worth the haul!

The speaker, US astronaut Shane Kimbrough, has the rare distinction of having served aboard BOTH the Space Shuttle AND the International Space Station. Once, he was in orbit for a full six months. That mission had been planned for four and a half months. Near the end, he received word that his stay was extended another six weeks.

Such interesting stories! He told of a mission he was on that launched from Russia, of bringing a soccer ball from a Challenger astronaut into space. He said during a spacewalk, you’re essentially in your own little one-person space capsule. He brought the experience of being-in-space alife for us all. img_2139-1

For more on NASA Astronaut and Former Commander of the International Space Station Shane Kimbrough see his webpage.

Shane shared amazing photos of his adventures and talked of cultural exchange, including multiple Thanksgivings spent in space. He described one year where the multi-national group aboard the Space Station celebrated our Christmas (December 25) as well as Russian Christmas (January 7).

He was also on a mission touted as “Home Improvement” since their team delivered and installed new kitchens, bathrooms, technical and exercise equipment and the like. Shane seemed so young and vibrant, yet he’s done all this. And what a remarkably humble guy he seemed to be!

Something he described will stick with me: he emphasized the fragility and beauty of the thin layer of atmosphere that protects, and indeed enables, life on our planet.

Of course, I ‘know about’ the ozone layer. My mom taught me to protect it since I was a kid. But I had never internalized the magic of this layer.  Although I knew about it intellectually, I had trouble ‘feeling’ it.

The scale is immense and the set of variables inconceivably complex. I have always had trouble wrapping my head around the idea of climate change. Shane made it palpable.

With a few words from Shane Kimbrough, I realized I’ve really only been looking up and out. From the International Space Station, he’d been outside, looking in. There, he adopted a more holistic view. He articulated it beautifully.

I’d been looking at all this from our human center, and been rightfully concerned. This astronaut helped me ‘see’ another way, but this also increased my concern. We must do more. I now have a better sense of awe of the beauty, vulnerability, and fragility of this thin veil.

img_2196-1On a night like yester–looking up, looking out–I saw the clouds rolling past. The jet stream pushing them along bound from the Atlantic along toward Scandinavia. img_2212-1

Heading home, I saw clouds. The stars were masked by plumes of water droplets suspended in air. Thick blankets of billowy, puffy clouds–holding us together–keeping us safe.

En route, I was inspired to wander the plaza and soak in the festive holiday lights. Then, I stepped in to see friends at my favorite local pub, the Cobblestone. Inside this pub, I feel love. Love of music and life-long friendships among musicians. I am always treated like family here.

Returning home, I fell into dreams of stars, with a new and deeper sense of awe for this planet we call home.

img_2218I awoke this morning to the ominous political news of Brexit, the pending collapse of the UK government, and then Teresa May’s resignation.

There was a different sort of sky, the sort of rays my friend Glen calls ‘God light’. Dear God, please let this light show us the importance of the atmosphere and of each other. Let it lead us to make better decisions.

If there was no fear… what would you dare to dream?

Ted, Damon, and crew conducted a RoboSlam for 18 undergraduate engineering student form the University of Wisconsin last week.  I'll post more photos of the event soon, on our RoboSlam blog.

Ted, Damon, and crew conducted an abbreviated RoboSlam this part week for 18 undergraduate engineering student from the University of Wisconsin last week. They are students of former Fulbright, Bob O’Connell (far right). I’ll post more photos of the event soon, on our RoboSlam website.

Solstice in Dublin!

Solstice in Dublin!  It was my first solstice here and I enjoyed every minute of it! Interestingly, there’s indirect sunlight for even longer than 17 hours. The first rays appear before 4 AM and the last disappear after 10 PM.

Dublin is full of sunshine!  Temperatures are topping top out each day at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun has been staying up for 17 hours each day.  That makes for perfect weather for outdoor yoga.  On the day of the solstice, our yoga instructor, Peter, shared this provocation:  If there was no fear, what positive change would you make in your life?

I mulled the proposition.  I know better than anyone:  There’s good reason to fear what you may lose by chasing outrageous dreams.  But there’s also good reason to seek new knowledge and experience.  I hope someday my work will be a testament to trying hard to live life to the fullest.

This, the second week of my Marie Curie research fellowship, was full of adventures, errands, and learning.  My colleagues and I conducted a RoboSlam and a workshop on Problem-Based Learning at the start of the week.

I was honored to be included in a dinner and workshop with a guest from Portugal, José Manuel Nunes de Oliveira, who you may recall from an earlier blog.  Jose shared his work with the faculty of the DT07 electrical engineering program. This group of teachers is considering making the DT07 program more problem-based.

Jose's three essential elements of PBL.

Jose’s three essential elements of PBL.

Jose identified three elements he sees as essential to PBL (Problem- or Project-Based Learning):

  • Project drives learning
  • Group work
  • Reflection (including Self -and Peer-Assessment)

Jose described various aspects of assessment since this is a topic of concern to many of the teachers in the program.

I wish I had time to post details of the workshop, but I really need to get onto “real” work today.  Below, I’ve uploaded a photo journal of many highlights of the week. I hope they inspire you to find a least one new adventure today–however big or small.

Exotic Familiarity

I feared that somehow things wouldn’t seem as new and fresh on my return to Dublin as they were before.  During my Fulbright fellowship, I spent 365 days in this vibrant city — but even a vibrant city can become overtly familiar, I would have thought.

And yet, as I happily rediscovered many familiar comforts this past week (like Beef and Guinness Pie at Pieman in Temple Bar), I also uncovered a plethora of new adventures here.

On Saturday, during Fergus Whelan’s history tour, I met a researcher from Fordham University.  She said how much she’d enjoyed finding this blog while she was preparing for her trip here.  Her words encouraged me to get back to posting.  I hope you find something interesting and informative in my little picture gallery of highlights of the past week.

Well, it’s 10:20 PM and the sun has just set.  It will be up again by 5 AM or so, and I’d best get ready to hit the sack. I’ve another big week ahead!

Shannon’s American Wake

On my last night in Dublin, my friends came together at the Cobblestone for my “American wake”.

Sheila Whelan (Fergus’ wife) originally suggested the idea.  She told me that when someone leaves Ireland for the US, the Irish traditionally hold a wake for them. In older days when people, like my great-grand mother, set sail for the States, a wake was held since the person wasn’t expected to return. Thankfully, flying has made the return trip much easier!

When I explained I wanted to return, Sheila said, “no worries!”  Evidently, my return  will give us a reason for a welcome back party!  I’m hoping for one of those on my November visit.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

Irish wakes are typically held when someone dies, and they celebrate the deceased person’s life. There’s lots of drinking, craic/merry-making, and music. They are similar to America wakes, which are held for the living. As explained on Wikipedia, the term American wake:

refers to a gathering in an Irish home the night before a family member emigrated to America, in which friends and family would say goodbye to the emigrant for what was probably the last time.

In addition:

American Wake is the first full-length solo album by Patrick Clifford, released in 2010.

Thanks to my many friends who came to the wake, and to others who sent well-wishes from their summer vacation destinations.

Heather’s Kerry Travels

Heather on the Cliffs of Moher!

Heather on the Cliffs of Moher!

While I’m here in Dublin trying to finalize this grant proposal, my sister Heather is on the western coast of Ireland visiting Eilish O’Hanlon and her husband Con.

You may recall that Eilish and my mom share the same great grandparents. Con and Eilish have taken Heather to see the place my own great grandmother was baptized.  They took my mom and me there in May, but I’ve neglected to post photos as of yet.

Incidentally, because Con is a first cousin of Tom Mulligan (proprietor of the world-famous Cobblestone Pub), I’ve got family all over Dublin!   🙂

Today I’m sharing the photos Heather has posted on her Facebook page over the past week.

Sister Sister

My sister, Heather, is visiting.  She’s come to take acting classes.

Last night, we took in a play… Major Barbara, written by Shaw, performed at the Abbey Theater in Dublin.  I discovered that I’ve really got to concentrate to keep up with Shaw, but it’s worth the effort.  His work is packed with meaning….

Heather has been spending quite  a bit of time down at the Cobblestone. She goes in much later in the evening than I do. Evidentially late hours are the best for finding Tom, the owner, who is a night owl.

On Friday evening, I’d gone into the Cobblestone to hear some singing and I left at 9.  Heather stopped in later and met even more of Tom’s family.  She’d gone to thank Tom because he had taken her to see construction of a new theater that he serves as a member of the board.

I really enjoyed Friday evening there.  Some of the songs transported me back to my first trip to Ireland in 2003.  The country was quite a bit different at that time: songs were full of political strife and pubs were full of families, chatter, and smokey haze. The ban on smoking in pubs, apparent tightening of age limits in pubs, and the economic boom / Celtic Tiger all took their toll on Ireland’s pub culture.  The country’s newfound peace also shifted the tone, and for the peace I’m grateful.

The Cobblestone, however, has managed to retain its charm. And it continues to do that despite being listed in every tourist guide. A lot of that, I believe, has to do with Tom’s warm and generous spirit. He makes every person feel special and welcome.

Heather left town today, but sent me over to hear Tom and his friends from the Cobblestone play at the Northside Music Festival in Wolftone ‘Park’.

It’s 10pm: Do You Know Where Your Cobblestone Is?

The Whelans.

The Whelans enjoying another lovely Friday evening at the Cobblestone pub.

I galloped down to the Cobblestone tonight to hear my favorite set of the week. The Friday 7:30-9:30 group includes singers as well as instrumentalists.  This week the Whelans were there, so I had friends to chat with.

It’s bright and cheery in the musicians corner during the evening this time of year… the sun stays up in Dublin until ten pm.  And it raises before five am!  We are so far north.

Irish Music Radio this Weekend

This just in from Kevin Donleavy:

Pull up your easy chair this Saturday, and have a listen to Irish trad music on-line.  The date is June 1,  and the programme runs from 10 am till 12 noon in the eastern US,  which means 3 to 5 pm in Ireland. Kevin Donleavy is the usual host,  and the show is called ATLANTIC WEEKLY PART TWO.
 
Here are the easy listening steps.  On your computer, go to http://wtju.net. Next, select Listen Live on the right side bar.  Then, choose between Ogg and MP3.
 
Here are some highlights from the music to be broadcast. Mary McNamara will play Co. Clare tunes on her concertina. You can hear songs and two uilleann pipers from the Belfast band Réalta.  Kerry’s own Mary Courtney will sing some ballads, and you can hear Liam Weldon singing that powerful song,  “Where Is Our James Connolly.”  Harper Sue Richards will perform, and you can hear Paudie O’Connor on accordion play polkas and reels with John O’Brien on uilleann pipes.  Dublin singer Pat Broaders will  do a fine version of the US trad song called  “Storms Are on the Ocean.”  That’s just the beginning ….
 
Hope you can tune in. You will also hear the latest news from the only Irish archaeological dig in the state of Virginia,  and there’s more information about it at www.clannmhor.org.  And the latest news from such groups as BRIMS (the Blue Ridge Irish Music School), and the Washington branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  

Irish Music Radio with Mick O’Grady

Charlottesville’s Kevin Donleavy has an Irish music program on air tomorrow.  I hope you’ll tune in via internet!  He explains how, below.  I always enjoy hearing Mick O’Grady play at the Cobblestone pub, and he’ll be featured in the program.

Photo of Stefan Paz Berrios and Mick O'Grady, downloaded from Danny Diamond's Flicker page.

Photo of Stefan Paz Berrios and Mick O’Grady, downloaded from Danny Diamond’s Flickr site.

Hi, music heads and tune-fanciers,

The next radio program of Irish trad music presented by Kevin Donleavy can be heard on-line as usual this Saturday, May 18, from 10 am till 12 noon. (Irish listeners should tune in from 3 to 5 pm that day.) The program is called ATLANTIC WEEKLY PART TWO,  and here are the easy listening steps :
 
To listen on your internet radio, select WTJU in Virginia, USA, or pick up the  “Tune In Radio”  app for your iPhone or other mobile device and easily dial up the station.
 
On your computer,  go to http://wtju.net. Next, select Listen Live on the right side bar. Then, choose between Ogg and MP3.
 
This week’s musical material includes singers Andy Irvine, Paddy Reilly, Tim Browne, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (Maryann McCauley), and Christy Moore. There will  be tunes from banjo expert Kieran Hanrahan and fine box-player Danny O’Mahony. The fiddlers this week are Mick O’Grady and Washington/Baltimore’s own Jesse Smith. And if you like the sounds of uilleann pipes and fiddle, you’ll enjoy tunes from Mick O’Brien and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh. 
 
There will also be some chat about such Irish organizations as Comhaltas, Clann Mhor, and BRIMS (the Blue Ridge Irish Music School). 
 
Hope that you can have a listen on Saturday ….
Kevin