Baseball91's Weblog

June 13, 2008

Passing Along the Tradition

Filed under: Ireland,Music — baseball91 @ 4:52 AM
Tags: , , ,


Laura McKenzie has dedicated her life to traditional Celtic music.  “I was drawn to the culture that had produced it.”  She learned that it was not just the notes on paper that the music was about.


 She told a story of playing with an older man from Sligo, a retired coal miner.  She “memorized” the notes on paper, and she was the one who had put down all these notes on paper for the first time as part of her project at Beloit College.  Celtic music taught that when someone was gone, their life in memory became more holy.  It was why we “memorized” music, or even the written word.


Be it music, or sport, there was an art form in the playing, like there was in all of life.  That was part of the draw to this culture, which certainly involved a religious dimension.  Civilization was a collection of cultures and the things that drew people to the culture.  To produce it, took years.  It took years to learn any culture.  And then it was passed along. 


 I thought of my Irish heritage.  And I thought of one friend who has spent 2008 battling acute leukemia.  He was the one who had led me to the same Celtic tradition.  In 1977, we went to Ireland and spent 2 weeks stopping at Irish pubs to hear Irish music. I learned to drink Guinness which was not available in my any town I returned to at the time.  We were on the edge of the re-discovery of Celtic Renaissance.  His dad was born in County Clare.  Until that time, despite my Irish DNA, I knew really next to nothing.  I started hanging out on New Year’s Eve at post parties with Irish musicians for the next ten year.  That was because of his parents.  Then he moved to New York.    


 I rarely hear live Irish music any more.  But in it I knew there was something to be revered, something that was sacred that drew people to the culture.  The mystery was in the formation process like the cliffs of Moher, in any rock, or in a long friendship.  And it took about 35 years to understand  what it means to be Irish whether born on the island or of the same heritage.  And when something or someone was threatened, their life in memory became much more sacred.

The good news this week was that a lot like Celtic music which was revived about 20 year ago, my friend was released from the fred Hutchinson Memorial Hosptial and he was going back to work, after too many months lurking over the precipice.



  1. One of the things I like about the ancient Celts is that they liked even mundane things like buckets & wine jugs to be beautiful ~ & clean. The Irish invented soap ~ or so I’m told.

    Comment by Mab — July 6, 2008 @ 1:11 AM | Reply

  2. This is a beautiful piece of writing,. Thanks for sharing.


    Comment by celticmusicfan — May 24, 2009 @ 12:50 PM | Reply

  3. Comment by paperlessworld — March 17, 2015 @ 1:33 AM | Reply

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