Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Rocky Road to Dublin

Not really rocky--I just love the song, here with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem-- although Thursday's maybe huge storm is sending me out a day earlier than planned. I'm going to capital of Eire, for you crossword fans, for President's Day Weekend to sing a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, founded in 1191. Whoa.

Unlike New York, this cathedral, named for the uber Catholic patron saint of an uber Catholic country in its capital, is Protestant (to Americans), Church of England, there called Church of Ireland, summing up the whole difficult history of that Emerald Isle beside the Scepter'd Isle. I love that the wikipedia page for the cathedral lists "previous denomination" as Roman Catholic, because of course it started as a Roman Catholic Cathedral, until the Reformation. OMG, such a succinct description of centuries of bloodshed.

From Wiki
After the English Reformation (an uneven process between 1536 and 1564 but at St. Patrick's, effective from about 1537), St. Patrick's became an Anglican Church of Ireland Cathedral, although most of the population of the surrounding Pale remained Roman Catholic. During the confiscation process, some images within the cathedral were defaced by soldiers under Thomas Cromwell, and neglect led to collapse of the nave in 1544.

 Jonathon Swift was the dean of St. Patrick's from 1713 to 1745, which is why in my very first visit to Ireland while studying in Southampton, England, I made a literary pilgrimage there.

The other big, medieval cathedral, down the Dublin block is Christ Church . It is also "previous denomination" Roman Catholic, but actually Protestant/Church of England/Ireland for the rest of Europe. Even more interesting, for those who follow such things, is that technically, Christ Church is the cathedral that the Vatican recognizes as the rightful seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop. But he's over in St Mary's,  known as a "pro-cathedral"in acknowledgement of the former statement.

Welcome to Irish/English history. Is it a wonder that Queen Elizabeth II made the supreme effort to visit while she could, and put some sense into this difficult past. The Penal Laws and the Troubles are not to be taken lightly, but the world has moved on.

I'm singing in a service in St. Patrick's because of a wonderful community that Ghislaine Morgan has formed.  She is a professional soprano who runs a week-long choral workshop in Sintra, Portugal, which I attended. And she has devoted students who run reunions in their own cities, like Berlin and Bologna. It's much easier for the Europeans to go to a weekend reunion than the isolated Americans, but when I heard it was Dublin, and on a 3-day weekend, I signed up.

St. Valentine's Day
And, as fate would have it, I will be in  ancestor's land on February 14. It feels like a cosmic Celtic embrace of the the land of my forefathers.

I had read that the relics of the actual martyred St. Valentinus were given to an Irish Carmelite priest in the 19th century, and he interred them at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

They are brought to the high altar on the feast day. I thought it would be interesting to see, if it wasn't too far out of my way. Turns out the church is literally between my hotel and St. Patrick's Cathedral, by complete chance. Lots of background about how the saint ended up in Dublin here.

 I don't know how much sightseeing I will get in in between jet lag, rehearsals, and the reunion activities. But I'll be tweeting from the Old Country. You can follow along here

The lyrics to the great "Rocky Road to Dublin"

In the merry month of June, From me home I started,
Left the girls of Toom, Nearly broken hearted,
Saluted father dear, Kissed my darlin' mother,
Drank a pint of beer, My grief and tears to smother,
Then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born,
with a stout blackthorn, To banish ghost and goblin,
In a brand new pair of brogues, I rattled o'er the bogs,
And frightened all the dogs, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

In Mullingar that night, I rested limbs so weary,
Started by daylight, My spirts light and airy,
Took a drop of the pure, To keep my heart from sinkin',
That's the paddie's cure, Whene'er he's on for drinking.
To see the lasses smile, Laughing all the while,
At my curious style, 'Twould set your heart a-bubblin'.
They ax'd if I was hired, The wages I required,
Till I was nearly tired, Of the rocky road to Dublin.

In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity,
To be so soon deprived, A view of that fine city.
Then I took a stroll, All among the quality,
Bundle it was stole, In a neat locality;
Something crossed my mind, Then I looked behind;
No bundle could I find, Upon my stick a wobblin'.
Enquirin' for the rogue, They said my Connacht brogue,
Wasn't much in vogue, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

From there I got away, My spirits never failin'
Landed on the quay As the ship was sailin';
Captain at me roared, Said that no room had he,
When I jumped aboard, A cabin found for Paddy,
Down among the pigs I played some funny rigs,
Danced some hearty jigs, The water round me bubblin',
When off Holyhead, I wished myself was dead,
Or better far instead, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

The boys of Liverpool, When we safely landed,
Called myself a fool; I could no longer stand it;
Blood began to boil, Temper I was losin',
Poor ould Erin's isle They began abusin',
Hurrah my soul, sez I, My shillelagh I let fly;
Some Galway boys were by, Saw I was a hobble in,
Then with a loud hurray, They joined in the affray.
We quickly cleared the way, For the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,