With apologies to Van Morrison, it’s almost (Irish) independence day.
This year, just like the last couple (since I emigrated from Ireland) I’ve been thinking from 4,000 miles away: what song or poem or piece of writing best sums up the Ireland and the Irish?
Not the kelly green, or lachrymose versions of “Danny Boy”, or green rivers, or a million soda bread recipes, or drinking to excess. Though there’ll be plenty of all that this weekend – at least on this side of the pond.
Then it struck me – or, rather, I heard it. As I listened to music at home last night, a song by The Gloaming – the folk/classical/progressive traditional Irish act – came on.
“The Hare” is a version of the traditional Irish tune “The Hare and the Corn” – of which I am totally unfamiliar. The Gloaming’s version is beautiful though, a fiddle performance that is short and plaintive and melodic, and it throws up all sorts of images of the homeland for me.
It may have been some dust, or the light, or a day spent staring at screens, but for a moment I swore I was standing alone, at dawn, on the flank of Mweelrea in Co Mayo, as sun and rain washed over me, with something in my eye.
Well, I was I suppose, in one way.
Here it is then – more Ireland in three minutes than you’ll get all weekend.