Monday, November 22, 2010

A Much-Needed Update


Nearly got the money for it! Thanks in no small part to the encouragement from one of my best friends, Kim, I'm almost about to reach my dream! I nearly have enough money to go! I won't go into the details of how, but I am very much in her debt. Planning on going in December 2011 (booking a year in advance gets you a discount with this tour group). SO EXCITED!

Nearing the end of the fall semester. Need to finish strong!

More later when I can!

EDIT: Decided on Summer 2012 trip. Much better weather.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Almost time for school

It's been a while!

So my funds have gone back up to about a thousand, and will go over it by the time summer gets here, so now we can assess my options for Ireland:

1. Get a job during school, risking precious study time and homework time between college life and classes, hope to reach the $3,000 mark and go next summer.

2. Go back to my summer job next summer, work to $3,000 and go the summer after that. Obviously, that'll take a long, long time.

3. Go on a cheaper tour next summer. Quick way to go to Ireland, but I'll be in the country for much less time.

The good news for the first two options, I met a performer named Pat Kane when he came to Chattanooga, and he let me play bodhran along side him while he played the fiddle. He also gives tours for $3,000, and he PAYS for the airfare from JFK airport in New York!

So many options, let's hope for the best, shall we? Will try to update again soon. Thank you for reading!

You can help me go to Ireland! If you are in a good place financially, you can send a donation to my paypal account - Thank you so much for any and all donations!

Le gra

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Quick Update

Haven't been on here a long time, so I'm gonna do a quick, short, update and then hit the sack.

Ireland fund is not doing so hot. Took some major hit with expenses since school ended (oh, btw, schools over!). I'm NOT giving up, however! Got my tour guiding job back this summer, so I'm gonna make up for lost expenses. Hopefully, I'll find a job when I get back to school. That way I could most likely go next summer.

More bad news. Turns out the total of how much the entire tour will cost (with air fare, souvenir money, emergency fund, yadda yadda) about $3,500 rather than $3,000. Not catastrophic.

Down, but not out. My ambition is not faltering.

Good news now!

New song! "Ireland's Call" performed by Celtic Thunder. Makes the hairs on my friggin' neck stand on end! Look it up on Youtube! I COMMAND YOU TO!

You can help me get to Ireland! If you are in a good place financially and feel for my plight, you can send me a donation of any size to my paypal - my paypal e-mail is Any and all donations are appreciated and shall be repaid in never-ending thank you's and a full report of my trip once I return!

I hate begging, but I really need all the help I can get in this endeavor.

Le gra,
Taylor "Angus" Gibson

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 13th, 2010 Celtic Woman Concert Review

Knoxville Civic Auditorium
April 13th, 2010
Front row, center

Act 1

Excitement was mounting to its fullest, and the show hadn't even started yet. I beheld the new set, which was much like the old set, save for it being more open around the middle and the coloration was that of the Songs From the Heart design. I sat in my front row seat, 3 seats from the center aisle. Just knowing what was about to happen made my heart race to the point where it felt like it was aching to burst out of my chest. It didn't, so I sat there, pleasantly impatient for the show to begin. I kept looking back, thinking in my head, Am I really in the front row of a Celtic Woman concert? But not a moment later, the lights dimmed and all went quiet.

Our wonderful drummers, Ray and Nicky, got on top of their sets. I waved in Ray's direction, and he waved back at me before gesturing to everyone in the audience to start applauding. Enter our beloved girls, gently silhouetted against the brightly colored set pieces, carrying candles at their stomach level. I picked out each individual and delightfully opened my heart to what was about to happen. Soft, gentle, dulcet tones from them in the beautiful Irish language. I was told by the N and J of NJ next to me to listen carefully to the lyrics, so I did. At first, the Irish made no sense to me, but I was about to be pleasantly surprised at what the beautifully harmonized chorus sang:

"Nil s'en la nil la gra"

The entire chorus of Nil S'en La was sung in a slow, beautifully arranged piece...The slowness wasn't about to last long.

Cue the drums and the chorus, and Mairead's beautiful fiddle, having appeared from behind the set. The light show was amazing, and at some point in time during the song, the girls came to the edge of the stage. Being right in front and below them, having them singing in the most beautiful voices on the planet was such an awe-inspiring experience that it shook me to my very core. Of course, I was singing along and grinning from ear to ear in my seat. It wasn't very hard for any of the girls to spot me. Both Lisa and Chloe immediately brightened when I met eyes with them. As Mairead came to my spot on the stage, I held up my "Fiddler Crossing" sign to which she grinned widely. As the song was coming to an end, I met eyes with Chloe and received a (relatively) unprovoked wink from her. Lord knows it wouldn't be the last!

Massive applause.

Lisa takes a microphone and begins Fields of Gold. I must pause and say how it felt to have The Voice singing not more than a few feet from me. It felt so personal, like she was singing directly to me, like everything around me could just drift away, and it was just me and her. Several times during the songs, she'd look and smile my way, and a few times I had to look away to keep myself from crying. The song was beautifully sung as per usual.

Enter The Pixie. Oh my goodness, how does she do it? Coasts of Galicia never sounded better! This was truly the most energetic I have ever seen Mairead in concert. Dashing across the stage and playing the uplifting and ever so lively song was like being fed liquid happiness. When she stopped to observe the audience on my side, I held up my sign again, to which she grinned widely. Amazing. Unbelievable. What more can I say?

Out comes the breathtaking Chloe, who made a very bubbly introduction, indeed. She said, "We love being here in Knoxville, Tennessee. We really think that we should just stay here. We don't want to leave the beautiful rivers and mountains and the warm welcomes we receive. I mean that truly from the bottom of my heart. It's such an honor to say that this is our 16th visit to Tennessee in the entire history of Celtic Woman. We have been to so many places, but there ain't anything like a Tennessee welcome, am I right?" Massive applause and affirmations. "I must say, that we loved our visit to the Market Square with all the food and people there, and I have to say that one of us really enjoyed the bars on the square. I won't say who!" Massive laughter. Then she began to tell the story about when she first went to Galway Bay in Ireland, and how truly beautiful it was. She said she realized the true meaning behind the song she was singing, which gave the song a very personal atmosphere as she sang it beautifully. I had liked the song alright from the DVD, but this rendition of it really made a difference - I had more insight into the power and meaning of the song.

A new arrangement to a classic Celtic Woman song - Orinoco Flow! The lights dimmed, save for some ambient lights across the mini curtains and backdrop. The sound of rain and thunder arose. Then softly from the speakers:

"Sail away! Sail away! Sail away!"

Back to singing along for me! I must say that with the thunderous drums which echoed in my heart, and the alive feeling of the song being sung came a realization of how much more fun and enjoyment I was getting out of this than at any rock concert I had ever been to. Celtic Woman had always been my favorite musical group, but I realized that even after seeing the likes of The Who live in concert, Celtic Woman could wow, inspire, and astound me to no end and to a level no other group could achieve. Many smiles from the girls. Alex's expression to me said, "Sing out! Let me hear you!" Winks from...oh, wait a second! -does the Orinoco wave-...Winks from Chloe and Lisa. Lynn was a little harder to interact with, but I'm guessing it's because she's generally a shy type of person. All of that would change later! AMAZING song!

My Lagan Love sung by the Lovely Lynn. Beautiful as always! The chorus harmonized so perfectly and so well. This is the song that really made me love Lynn's voice and talent. Incredible!

The New Ground / Isle of Hope was next. Amazing as always. As the girls walked out to the edge of the stage, I got different looks from all of the girls, which matched the different look I was giving to them. The previous interactions had been during the lively and joyous songs, but this song was longing, and heartfelt, and such were the expressions from the girls. I can truly feel the power and meaning of the song just by watching them sing it. Outstanding!

Enter Alex. "Good evening, everyone! As Chloe said, we had our day off yesterday, and this is the first time since I've been in the show that we didn't have rain this morning! Last time, I thought I brought the Irish weather with me, because we'd be looking out the hotel window and see the beautiful mountains and lovely city, and then rain would be coming down." Laughter and applause. Alex then spoke about how the next song she was gonna sing, the previously unheard by me "My Heart Was Home Again," was one of the songs picked for the theme of Songs from the Heart. In this song, I witnessed the incredible range and depth of Alex's voice and emotion. It was as if she personally wrote the song and was singing it from the soul (or the Heart, as it were). Incredible! Breathtaking!

Granuaile's Dance was breathtaking as always. It made me realize with a chuckle how many violin bows Mairead must go through in touring. Loved every second of it! Perhaps my favorite Mairead solo!

Goodnight My Angel...oh my gosh! I wish I could have had them singing this song to me when I was little. The sweetest lullaby sung by the sweetest girls ever! Loved it! Loved it!

Danny Boy was incredible, emotional as always. I must pause and say at this point that my friend who came with me said he cried a little during this song and said that it was the most beautiful rendition of the song he had ever heard. Frankly, I don't blame him!  Grin

Mo Ghile Mear - SO HAPPY they brought this back! A song that begs my body to move! It was as incredible as I remember! Is anyone else with me when I say that the drums are so powerful and amazing in concert? I got many smiles and winks again. I finally caught eyes with Lynn, and smiled up at her, and was delighted to see her smile ever so brightly back at me! I'm complete now! But the creme de la creme of the first act came after the song. The girls got a standing ovation, to which they bowed and mouthed their thank you's. I was blowing kisses to all of them, and clapping joyously to them. As the girls were turning to leave, Chloe bent down, looked me right in the eyes, and blew me a kiss! Be still my beating heart!

Intermission - Talked to my friends who came but were sitting in different parts of the auditorium. We all agreed how epic the concert was already. It was not about to let up, either!

Act 2

The beginning of The Call arose from drum and speaker. Singing along was a joy and pleasure. Another wink from Chloe, and I think my heart grew wings at that moment. Smiles and grins all around. Amazing song!

Amazing Grace - holy cannoli! This song is SO much more emotional in concert than it is watching on a TV screen! Bagpipes were impeccable. I was absolutely blown away by it. Can't get over how moving and emotional the song made the crowd. Thunderous applause and cheers.

Out comes Lynn, who spoke slightly quieter than her cohorts. "Hello. I don't think you guys enjoyed that song very much." Laughter. "We're very happy to be here. This next song is sung in the Irish language. It's a love song sung by a woman who is trying to decide between two men, and as she should she decides to compare them with two pieces of seaweed." Laughter. As Ray and Nicky came out playing their bodhrans, she said, "I like to think of these two as pieces of seaweed." Huge laughter. The song was amazing. It's easy to notice how fundamentally different Lynn and Meav's voices are. Meav sings in a more classical way of inflection and pronunciation whereas Lynn sings with a more pop and free-moving type of way. Both are incredible versions of Dulaman, and I was very impressed and delighted by Lynn's rendition.

You'll Be In My Heart. This song has a special meaning to me, because it's a very motherly song, and I have a very close bond with my own mother, so it struck a deep chord with me. I could definitely tell that Alex was previously an actress on stage. Her gestures, expressions, and vocal inflections told the story of the song, which made it all the more powerful. Blown away. Absolutely gorgeous.

The two Songs from the Heart - Walking the Night (sung by Alex and Lynn) and Give Me Your Hand (sung by all with Mairead and Nicky) - were INCREDIBLE! I audibly said the word "Wow!" after the songs were over. Such a fun duo of songs, during which I received many smiles and grins.

Lisa grabs a microphone again. She heavily complimented our city and the reception we were giving the girls, and then began The Moon's a Harsh Mistress.! Just when I thought this woman couldn't astound me anymore, she DID and then some! She sang it so beautifully, and her voice was rich with power and heart. Heavy, thunderous applause.

I cannot express the full extent of my love for Chloe's rendition of When You Believe. It's just so awe-inspiring and amazing. Her voice has grown so much, and she was just...WOW!!!!!!!!!! Loved it!

Non C'e Piu. What more can I say? Their harmonies are second to none! Even better than the DVD!

Mairead then stood in front and began to greet the audience. However, she was drowned out by the thunderous applause and standing ovation. She took a moment, and all the girls mouthed their thanks and gratitude. When the applause finally stopped, Mairead introduced You Raise Me Up, and told us that the song meant so much to them since the beginning of Celtic Woman. Cannot express how wonderful it was to be singing You Raise Me Up along with the girls onstage. Many smiles, grins, and winks from all around. At the end of the song, another standing ovation. Massive applause, and I turned towards Lisa and caught her eyes. I blew a kiss to her, and happily received one back from her! Carry me to Heaven, I'm ready! There's no amount of words or gestures that could express how much gratitude and admiration I had for these 5 girls from the Emerald Isle.

Finale - A longer arrangement than what was on the DVD. I've never seen such a joyous and uplifting finale before! I held up my two signs (the Fiddler Crossing and Lisa's Place) and joined the adoring crowed in the standing ovation.

Encore - SPANISH LADY! We were heartily encouraged from Chloe to make sure we were on our feet, singing along and doing whatever we felt moved to do during the song. No need to tell me twice! I have to pause and say at this point, that my "singing along" had merely been very emotive lip-syncing. However, towards the end of Spanish Lady, Chloe looked me in the eyes all grins as she put...hold on, -Spanish Lady shoulder she put her cupped hand to her ear in a gesture of "Let me hear you!" I subsequently put both my cupped hands to my mouth and sang out to her, not that anyone but myself and perhaps a few next to me could hear over the music. The gesture did the trick. She flashed her bubbly grin which was shared by Lisa next to her. Massively appreciative grins from Lynn and Alex. Time for the ladies to exit. They headed to the back of the set before turning around and giving one last wave to the audience. Catching Alex's eyes, I blew a kiss at her, and received one back! Lisa, Chloe, AND Alex!!! I can't fathom just how lucky I was, but the feeling in my heart tells all about how it made me feel!

Meet and Greet

We gathered at the same place as last time - to the right of the stage. After a few minutes, we were asked to make a line, in which I purposefully put myself last in. I didn't want to feel rushed as I was talking to whoever it was gonna be. The meet and greet coordinator gathered our attention. "Good evening, everyone. The two performers you will be meeting are Lisa and Chloe!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Captain has activated the fasten seat-belts sign!

This would be the third time I met Chloe and the second time I met Lisa! I couldn't believe my luck! I was so excited and the nerves started to kick in overdrive. I had a slight shake in my right hand, which made it hard for me to drink from my bottle of water. Out they came, The Voice and The Angel. As the minutes ticked past, I was constantly going over in my head what I was going to say, and began arranging the items to be autographed.

The moment finally came.

Lisa's beautiful eyes met mine.


We have just lost cabin pressure.

"So good to see you! How are you?!" Handshake. From the moment I shook her hands, my nerves for the most part went away, allowing me to speak clearly and comfortably with them, which was a total surprise to me, because I suspected the total opposite occurrence!

"Dia dhuit, mo cara Lisa!" (Hello, my dear friend Lisa)

Bright smile. "Very impressive! Much better than my Irish!" I laughed.

I had printed out a list of people from my Irish heritage on my paternal grandmother's side. I gingerly pulled it out to show her.

"Lisa, do you remember the last time we spoke I told you that I was researching my Irish heritage?"

"Yes, I do!"

"Well, here's the chronological list of all the Irish ancestors I have found on my paternal grandmother's side. Check out the first birth date. The year 1030."

"Wow! That's amazing! Very impressive." She then went down and read every name on the list, which had 16 names on it, total. She noted a few names on the list, "I have some neighbors who are Pollocks."

"Lisa, your music has meant so much to me, and truly has a healing power for me, and in that way the girls of Celtic Woman have become like my extended family, so I was hoping you would sign this list."

"Awww! Thank you! Of course I would!" She looked down. "Do you want me to put my birth date?"

I realized that a birth date may have been a sensitive piece of information, so I said reassuringly, "Put whatever you feel like you want to put on there."

It was time to meet Chloe, but as I was the last in line, I had a conversation between the two of them simultaneously.

Chloe: Hi, Taylor! So good to see you!

Me: Dia dhuit, mo cara Chloe!

Chloe: How are you doing?

Me: Oh...just trying to survive school.

Chloe: Aww! Well, you'll be alright!

Lisa: You're almost done, right?

Me: Almost done, but still...

Chloe: I love seeing you down there, you're smiling so much and singing along with us!

Me: Thank you so much!

-I show her the list-

Me: This is a list of my Irish ancestry. All the way from the year 1030.

Chloe: Wow! How cool! -reading the list- O'Brien, Fitzmaurice, Fitzgerald, you can't get much more Irish than that!

Me: Oh, I know!

Lisa: -pointing to the list- And Pollock! I have neighbors who are Pollocks!

Lisa and Chloe have a brief discussion on what I believe was specifically who the Pollocks were. When they were done...

Me: Lisa, didn't you have neighbors who were Gibsons?

Lisa: Yep! I remember telling you that last time!

(She remembers!)

Chloe: Is Gibson your second name?

Lisa: It is!

(I must say that it's an honor to have Lisa answer a question about my last name for me)

Chloe: Oh, that's cool! Did you enjoy the new show?

Me: I LOVED the show! It was incredible! Though I must confess -turning to Lisa- I did miss the Voice! I absolutely adored the Moon's a Harsh Mistress, and you sing it amazingly, but The Voice is your signature!

Chloe: Yes, the Voice is amazing!

Lisa: Yes, I miss the Voice as well. But, you know, we've been doing it for so long, I guess it's time to try something new.

Me: That's understandable.

Lisa: But I'm glad you like both songs! It means a lot!

Me: I love them!

Lisa: Well it was so good to see you! Are you coming to anymore shows?

Me: Well, Knoxville will be a yearly thing.

Chloe: Oh good, so we'll see you next time we're here!

Me: I'll be here! And it was so good to see ya'll!

Chloe and Lisa: You, too!

As they were leaving I said, "Le gra," which is Irish for "with love," to which Chloe grinned and giggled. Then they were gone.

After my friend and I went out the front door, I had to sit down to collect myself. My heart was beating triple time and I had to settle down. I was feeling a mixture of so much emotion.

I was elated to have:
seen Celtic Woman from the front row
interacted so much with the girls onstage, including blown kisses and winks
met Lisa and Chloe for the second and third time, respectively
Lisa AND Chloe remember me by name
had such a wonderful conversation with the two of them
had them express their genuine interest and amazement at my Irish ancestry

Even with all this elation, however, I was still, in the back of my mind, sad that the concert was over. Looking forward to a Celtic Woman concert is one thing that keeps me going - especially with school. I could conceivably go to a Chattanooga show on the next tour, but from what I've heard, tickets/M+G are pretty expensive in my hometown. Nashville is DEFINITELY out of the question - WAY too expensive! Therefore, most likely I'll have to wait an entire year before I can see them in concert again.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed and watching the SFTH DVD while I'm at it!

EDIT: I felt like this part was important to write, so here it is!

The Morning After

Excitement and elation had fueled my desire to stay awake and just gush the night away about Celtic Woman, but my body's desire to sleep soon overpowered me at some hour in the early morning. Dreams of the show delighted my subconscious. Waking up had no shortage of the same elation and excitement from last night - a state of being I like to call Celtic Cloud Nine. It was wonderful to read all the sweet and genuine responses to my show review, and I realized that there are probably some people on this forum who have never gone to a Celtic Woman show, and perhaps would like to know the experience of seeing them, and the experience is not complete without an account of what happens after the show.

A mixture of emotions.

Elation - The memories of the show, the interaction with the girls, the feeling of the drums, the feeling of the music tickling my ears, the joy of meeting Chloe and Lisa again and the conversations there are still fresh in my mind. I have probably found no joy in this world that tops the depth of emotional completeness than my experiences with Celtic Woman, and it probably won't be topped until the day comes, a decade or so from now, that I start my own family, and even then, I'll still be bringing my family to the show. History of Tokyo, my worst class, could do nothing to dampen my mood today. I just sat in class, hearing Nil S'en La, Orinoco Flow, When You Believe, and The Moon's A Harsh Mistress echo in my ears. During a pause in the lecture, I wrote 5 words in the cubby hole below the surface of my desk:


At one point in the class, I even began snapping to the lines of "Fill the glasses one more time and never heed the empty bottle! Turn the water into wine and turn the party up full throttle!" Luckily, I hadn't snapped loudly, and I realized my actions as quickly as I had committed them, so I passed it off like it was a nervous twitch of some type. It was hard, though. I still had the concert fully in my mind, and wanted nothing more (other than to go back and see it again) than to move to the music playing in my head. Luckily, my next class was canceled, and I have my dorm room ALL to myself!

Bittersweetness - I'm so thankful I got to go, however I genuinely miss the girls. The space between concerts feels like being away from close family members for a long period of time, and when I finally go to the concerts, it's like the joy of being reunited with the dearest of family members, whom you haven't seen in ages. It's an agonizing feeling that I'll most likely have to wait a year to see them again. My ultimate dream would be to somehow get a job doing anything for Celtic Woman, whether it's singing in the choir or just moving stuff back and forth from the stage to the touring bus...but then again, being in the front row of their show is a unique experience that even the choir doesn't get. Hmm. Maybe if I could be a "professional audience member" and attend all of their shows...

I digress...

Lisa - my Irish mother away from my mother (meaning often times that I listen to her lullaby songs before I head to bed), further solidified by her part in "Goodnight My Angel." Can't express the wealth of gratitude and admiration I have for her and what she's done for me. I thoroughly believe that she is like an angel of healing in her voice, her personality, and her generosity. Go rabh maith agat (Thank You) seems totally inadequate. The Voice is so astounding to see and hear sing, but to get a look at her personality through ever so friendly conversation is an experience to treasure. Down to earth, witty, and absolutely breathtaking personality.

Chloe - my best Irish friend, at least that's how it always feels when I meet her. Even though she's older than me by a only a few months, listening to her first recording of "When You Believe" on her first solo album and then watching her sing it now all grown up makes me well up inside. I adore her personality with her exuberance and bubbliness and wit. I have yet to meet someone in my community who can match her.

Mairead - I honestly think they should study Mairead for an alternate source of energy. The energy she pours out could power the city of New York for a lifetime! Whether it's her dizzying solos of Granuaile's Dance, or her moving "Last Rose Fantasia," or her funny motions during "The Mason's Apron," there's no shortage of being astounded and amazed by her. If one ever needs a smile, all they must do is watch Mairead.

Alex - Amazingly talented, and exceptionally good at portraying emotion and feeling in her songs. What an awesome addition to Celtic Woman! I love her "You'll Be In My Heart," and watching her in behind the scenes footage is always sure to bring me a smile and sometimes a laugh (rabbit joke, anyone?).

Lynn - Beautifully breathy voice! She can be somewhat of an enigma. When she's not singing, it's been told that she can be very quiet, yet her singing fills the auditorium, and watching her behind the scenes show dramatic bursts of personality and messages from her heart of gold. And of course (as per being Irish), she's gorgeous, and I absolutely love her smile!

I feel the urge to write out all of my memories and experiences, because, unfortunately, pictures aren't allowed at the meet and greets, so I don't have the thousand word-worthy photographs to remember these by. However, I have the autographs, the blown kisses, and the smiles to cherish forever.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Almost Time for Celtic Woman Show Number Three!!!!

Ok, so that's a really long title up there for a blog post entry, but it's MY BLOG, SO SO WHAT!!!

Sorry. I've been really worked up, because Tuesday, April 13th, Celtic Woman will be here in Knoxville, and I've got a front row ticket and a meet and greet pass!!!!! AAAAH! Can't wait!

Just got to make it through Monday and Tuesday classes and I'll be on Celtic Cloud 9.

Here's how I hope it goes at the meet-and-greet. I hope it's Lisa and either Alex, Chloe or Lynn. I want Lisa, because (DERR) she's my favorite! Alex or Lynn, because I haven't met either of them yet, and I need their autographs! And then Chloe, because she's SO much fun at meet and greets! However the meet and greet goes, I'm sure it will be amazing and full of memories forever etched in time.

Wow, this will make this a really short post! I may come back and edit it later, so keep your eyes open!

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Le gra

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'M IRISH!!!!!!!!

After about a year or so with delay after delay to see my family tree, I finally got sent a copy of my family tree, and...

Seems like I'm a little bit of everything, but I've definitely got a hefty chunk of Irish in me (along with British, French, Italian, Welsh, German, Spanish, and Scottish). Here are my Irish ancestors!

Name                                      Birth                                                        Death

Robert DePollock                     1580 - Coleraine, Londonderry, Ireland          1660, Coleraine, Londonderry, Ireland

Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzmaurice          B. 1153 - Wexford, , Kildare, Ireland       D. Apr 1213 - Connello, Eireann, Limerick, Ireland

Fitzmaurice, Gerald          B. 1150 - Windsor, Berkshire, , England       D. 15 Jan 1203 - Offaly, , Kildare, Ireland

Fitzmaurice, Thomas         B. 1176 - Connello, , Limerick, Ireland       D. 1213 - Castle, McPherson, Kansas, United States

FitzMaurice, William         B. 1152 - Wexford, , Kildare, Ireland       D. 1199 -

Gras Grace, William Le         B. 1093 - Of, , Kilkenny, Ireland       -  D. Huh

O Brien, Muirchertach          1030 - Munster, , , Ireland       1119 - Lismore, , Waterford, Ireland

OBrien, Lafracoth          1076 - Munster, , , Ireland       1135 - , Pembrokeshire, , Wales

Ossory, Dubhchobhleigh Na          1050 - Ossory, , , Ireland       1098 - Munster, , , Ireland

Polk, Robert Bruce          1625 - Donegal, Ireland       1703 - Somerset, Maryland, USA

Polk, William B          1664 - , , Donegal, Ireland       1739 - Whitehall, Somerset, Maryland, United States

Pollock, Robert Bruce  1606 - Coleraine, Londonderry, , Ireland       1660 - City, , , Ireland

Seawell, Clara              1675 - Ireland                      Huh - Ireland

Tasker, Magdalen          1637 - , , Donegal, Ireland       1726 - Somerset, Maryland, United States

Tasker, Roger          1606 - Ballindrate, , Donegal, Ireland       1688 - , , Donegal, Ireland

Tasker, Thomas          1570 - , , , Ireland       - , , , Ireland

I'm so happy that I can FINALLY confirm the fact that I am indeed IRISH - even if partially so. By the looks of it, my family comes from both Northern and the Republic of Ireland!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Paddy's Day!

Cead mile failte! (A hundred thousand welcomes to you!)

Lord, I'm glad to be back. Sorry for not posting in a while. My computer was having tons of problems, so I had to wait until my trip to Hendersonville to have my extremely tech-savvy cousin fix it. Now my computer is fixed and running SO smoothly!

ANYWAYS, Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I'm not gonna make an extremely long post as I have classes and *ahem* plans. ;-) What I WILL put in this post is some interesting facts about Saint Patrick's Day and its country of origin...IRELAND, of course!

Saint Patrick (Sanctus Patricius in Latin) is the most generally recognized patron saint in Ireland. He was a missionary who came to Ireland to spread God's Word. Legend has it that he introduced the concept of the Trinity to the native Irish people using a shamrock - hence why the shamrock is so closely associated with Ireland.

St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17th, 493, which is why March 17th became a holiday - to remember St. Patrick's work.

The shamrock's importance shows up later in Irish history. When the Irish wanted to break away from British rule, their sign of rebellion was to put a shamrock on their caubeen hats. They would also wear green as the color for the Society of United Irishmen. At that time, wearing green was punishable by hanging!

Off to celebrate!

Le gra

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Irish and Proud

Before I begin this, I'd like to first say that I am currently writing this article after having woken up at 6:00 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Some of my writing may seem to be written out of ignorance, and if any should find it offensive (particularly those of the Emerald Isle), I wish to extend my profound apologies and hope you understand that I mean nothing but the best and stand for cultural equality and peace between nations.

I've had several memorable conversations in the past with several people of different ancestries, backgrounds, and nationalities.

Granted, before I go any further, I should preface myself and state the obvious - regardless of whether or not you and I are the closest of friends or the newest acquaintances, it's hard to have a conversation with me without having some mention of Ireland. I am not one given to subtlety. This is not always a welcome trait.

I have had some reactions which surprised me. Very early on in my Irish obsession, someone very close to me asked which Ireland I was in love with - Northern or Republic. At the time, I had either only just known that there were, in fact, "2 Irelands," or had not known that fact at all. Trying to regain credibility in my new-found community, I said, "Whichever is home to the "Irish culture" we know and love." While that may seem like a suitable answer for me at the time, it proved to be somewhat childish and dangerously ostracizing to whichever side I did not pick.

The person, who meant nothing more than the best for me, mind you, responded, "You probably mean the Republic of Ireland - and if you place your loyalties there, then you place your loyalties with the IRA (Irish Republican Army)." I had known very little of the Troubles then, and know not that much more today. He continued, "The Irish Catholics screwed over the Protestant Irish a long time ago." I should note here, that the person I was talking to was what I called "an agnostic Christian," (certainly not Catholic, by any means) whereas I was/am a Presbyterian. I should also note that said person was not saying I should side with Northern Ireland, either. "Northern Ireland has had a lot of violence lately, too." This statement was true - bombings had recently happened in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the source of said bombing was unclear. It could have been neo-IRA members or terrorists having nothing to do with Ireland or the Troubles.

I had a conversation with another friend of mine. He claimed he was "Scots-Irish," and when I said "Me, too," he said, "Well, I don't mean your Ireland. I'm Northern Irish. I don't care for the other Irish. They persecuted the Northern Irish Protestants." I had heard similar sentiment for the Republic of Ireland from people from England, saying they didn't think too fondly of those "Paddies from Ireland." I should note here, that though I know that part of my ancestry (however small or large) is Irish, I do not know whether it is Northern Irish ancestry, Republic ancestry, or both. I have yet to see the family tree which is kept by a grandparent who lives far away from me.

Do I care if my ancestry is Republic or Northern? Only by the fact that I want to know what part of Ireland I come from - not to find what "side" to be on.

After talking to several people, Irish and non-Irish, I have come to some conclusions regarding my entrance into Ireland.

1) If someone asks you your religion, say, "Christian," or politely decline comment.
2) Don't parade your opposing views in public - be courteous about your views and people will generally leave you alone.
3) The Troubles are long over - Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are generally at peace with each other, yet talking about some tender subjects in a manner other than respectful is a good way to get punched.

My message to people who bring up the old conflicts in Ireland - the ancestral victims who cry, "Your ancestors persecuted my ancestors," and the like is this:

Judge a person by his own actions today, not by the actions his forerunners did years ago - those are not your burdens to bear. Protestants and Catholics all worship the same Christ.

My Ireland is not an Ireland defined by the IRA, or the Troubles, or misplaced nationalism. My Ireland is the warm, friendly community, musical by nature and by proud choice, within a setting of surpassing beauty and forty shades of green. Never meeting a stranger, the newest acquaintance is always deserving of a round of the finest drinks, and tall tales being told with cheerful tongues in cheek. Blessings of good health and fortune are upon everyone from hello to goodbye.

Le gra.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Call

Two days ago, I was asked what my fascination with Ireland was. I told them what I told many people. I was in love with the culture, the music, and the Guinness history of the Emerald Isle. It was an answer that was comfortable, and I had grown used to answering the question in this way.

Yesterday, I was asked the same question twice in two situations. One was during a live webcam chat on The second was during my weekly Wednesday night discussion group at the Presbyterian Center on campus. Both of them had the same gist of a different answer.

When I hear Irish music, or I read about Irish culture, or I learn about its history, I feel some connection to what I take in. You may immediately assume it has something to do with my heritage. Yes, I am indeed part Irish...but I'm also part English, German, Welsh, Spanish, and Scottish. So what makes Ireland different from the rest of my countries of origin. Ireland is not where most of my ancestors come from - England and Scotland take the cake in that respect. To my knowledge, there weren't many really notable people in my Irish ancestry - my German ancestors were royalty in some way or another. Wales and Scotland were both Celtic countries just like Ireland. I don't really dislike any of the music of the other countries of origin. I feel like marching every time I hear the bagpipes playing "Scotland the Brave," and England's The Who remains my family's favorite band of all time.

So what puts Ireland above the rest in my book? That's part of the reason I dream of going to Ireland - to find out. Could I be called to work in reconciliation mission work between the Catholics and the Protestants? I'm not on a record search to find my ancestors in Ireland, but I am trying to find that emotional, spiritual, and almost religious connection I have with the Emerald Isle. The mystery further expands the agony of the seemingly far away goal of actually going there.

                          ...but in the end, it will make it all the sweeter.

Le gra.

P.S. My funds took a hit yesterday, due to some financial necessities. A pretty big hit, but I know I'll find a way to pull through it. Gonna be looking for a campus job soon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Foreshadowing Ireland

I have already told my few readers about having my eyes open to Ireland via a Celtic Woman video on Youtube. To me, that's the "realization" of my love for Ireland...yet it wasn't the beginning.

The actual beginning of my love for Ireland began in high school. I was in several choruses at school, studying under a big name teacher - Lew Cisto, a very kind and encouraging man, who helped many students find their talents. While I don't see myself anywhere near as talented as his most distinguished subjects, Mr. Cisto was very encouraging of the talent I did have.

One day, I happened to come across my favorite song from Lion King 2 (go figure) - "We Are One." I sang it for my parents, and they thought I sounded like an Irish ballad singer when I sang it. I sang it again with Mr. Cisto, and he took a moment to think about it and said,

"You know, Angus, I like that. It really does sound like an Irish ballad."

He didn't say much more at the time, and I put it out of my mind. But later, he'd say multiple times, usually on the way to class:

"Angus, if you exercise that Irish voice of yours and pick up maybe an instrument, you could make a great side living, you know?"

I took it as a massive compliment, but I didn't think much of it. And I'm not saying that I'm going to start trying to make a side living as an American singing Irish music...

                                                                                              ...but you never know.

Le gra.

P.S. Still only halfway to acquiring funds for Ireland. Income is at a stand-still in college. :(

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

People Who Push You

Throughout your life, you will find people who will push you to do anything, even things you didn't know you would ever want/could/should do. There will be people who will push you to pursue your dreams even when you don't have the strength or motivation to do it yourself. You can't always trust you parents to support your dreams - at least, not in the ways only your friends can. As you all know if you've read my blog, my dream is to go to Ireland - a dream that has proved to be quite challenging to fulfill thus far, but I am lucky to have a few people in my life who push me to pursue my dreams to the best of my abilities.

Celtic Woman Forum - O.k. This one is pretty obvious. My love for Ireland was realized via Celtic Woman, so no doubt I'd be getting some reassuring nods of approval and encouragement from the lovely folks at CWF. Just to name a few - Rich (OldFatGuy), Chris Ropes (CRRopes), shankdee, Chris Brillante, Gaby Brillante, and Sara. (Muah muah to Sara)

I'd also like to point out the folks at Lisa Kelly and Mairead Nesbitt forums. Sure, they may not actually know that they have indirectly supported my dream, but their love for LK, MN, and CW always rejuvenates my spirits and help me push onward.

My Mother - Though she tries to be realistic in ways sometimes detrimental to my dream's pursuit, she has always supported my decision to go to Ireland.

My best friend, Joe - High school friendships die hard when they go their separate ways in college, and the same can be said for my friendship to Joe. When Mom is putting me down and telling me there's no way I could go to Ireland by this coming summer, Joe has always been there to let me vent and get my head on straight.

Holly - We've never met in person - she lives in New Zealand and we met in an online Harry Potter roleplaying game chatroom (don't judge me). In the past year, she and I have reconnected and I have since gone on and on to her about my love for Ireland. Her never-ending support, even though our chats are relatively infrequent in relation to the other folks, is so vital in my race against time and money to find a way to the Emerald Isle.

Kimberly - One of my dearest friends who has become not unlike a sister to me. She has perhaps been my strongest supporter - pushing me to find a plan to make my dream to go to Ireland this summer happen. Without her support, I'd probably have given up on a lot of things including Ireland.

I can't express enough how thankful I am to know these people, as well as how much their love and support mean to me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snowed In

Snowing here in Knoxville. The weather threw a giant wrench into my weekend plans. I had planned on going home to Chattanooga, but got a call from my mother saying that the weather had gotten pretty bad at home and strongly advised that I stay in Knoxville.

Mother knows best, right?

To make matters worse, it seems all of my friends are already home, so I'm sitting here in an empty dorm suite with absolutely nothing to do.

But am I gonna let that get me down? NO!

My new Celtic Woman CD came in today, and I must tell you, the past week and a half have been a resurgence of love and excitement for the 5 ladies from the Emerald Isle. First of all, their new CD/DVD, Songs from the Heart, came out a few days ago, so I've been itching to get my hands on them. My CD was delivered to my dorm today. My DVD has also arrived....but it's at home, because my mother had bought it as a birthday present (thank you, weather).

I've been surfing youtube again, watching behind the scenes footage of the new CW special. It's really exciting, because this is the first time you really see the real girls of CW. You see their laughter, their pranks (Lynn stealing the golf cart), their mishaps (Mairead getting locked in her trailer), their gentle annoyances (Chloe: -getting her makeup done- Come back in 20 minutes and I'll stare into your camera all you want), as well as all of the wonderful things long since confirmed by my meeting them, such as their wonderful hearts and personalities.

The goodness that comes from CW is almost like a natural element like fire, water, earth, and wind. Such an element makes me long all the harder to see Ireland and its beautiful splendor. Friends of mine have advised me to go with Tenon Tours over Paddywagon Tours (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look two posts ago). I think I agree with them. I like the idea of living in the great accommodations as I make my way through the Emerald Isle, and I also like being able to have the freedom of being able to explore by myself throughout Ireland. If a group wants to go to the Jameson Distillery, but I want to go to the Guinness Brewery, so be it (the use of alcoholic landmarks in Ireland has no almost no correlation to my plans in Ireland).

My funds have passed the $1,500 mark - halfway to acquiring the necessary funds to go to Ireland. Mother doesn't think that I'll have enough to go by the end of the summer. I hope to prove her wrong...but I'll probably need a lot of help along the way.

Le gra.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meeting Lisa Kelly, Chloe Agnew, and Mairead Nesbitt

It was a lovely spring semester in 2009. February rolled around faster than January had the month before. January was always a lovely month for me, but granted I'm a little biased (my birthday is January 14th). However, 4 months prior to that particular February, I had ordered my friend Natasha and I a pair of Celtic Woman tickets to their showing in Knoxville along with a pair of meet and greet passes. As the months counted down to weeks which counted down to days, it was getting harder and harder to sleep as I kept getting more and more excited about seeing my favorite performers and meeting them in person.

The wait was not without worry, however. I had learned from the lovely throng of members at that I would not meet every member of the group. At typical meet-and-greets, only 2 of the 5 performers came out to greet the audience, and it was a random process as to which of them came out to the greeting. Lisa Kelly being the first of the group I ever saw and heard, I desperately wanted to meet her so much. That said, meeting any of them would have been truly a wonderful and memorable experience. But in the back of my mind, I had set aside a goal to meet Lisa, as my adoration for Ireland had been realized for the first time by hearing her dulcet tones.

The last day in February finally came. Natasha and I were ready to go, so we made our way to downtown Knoxville to the Knoxville Civic Center to see the women from the Emerald Isle.

3rd row seats, dead center.

It was truly a magical experience from the beginning. From the windy and echoing opening stanza of "The Sky, The Dawn, and The Sun" with Mairead's pixie silhouette against the fog and smoke, to the finale with all the girls clapping along with their adoring audience and waving their final goodbyes, I was wowed and amazed. After the night, my cheeks ached from the wide (not creepy) grin I had on my face the entire night.

More details than that. Listening to Lisa singing "The Voice" just a few meters away was a wonderful memory I will never ever forget. Throughout the show, I would find that my smiles and simple clapping gestures to her would often get reciprocated from her to me (read the entire article, and you'll find the full extent of said reciprocations). She'd grin or do a slight wave from her hip. To my astonishment, a lot of the girls did the same, but the ones who did it the most were Lisa and Chloe.

In the middle of "You Raise Me Up," a spotlight went through the crowd and stopped right above me, lingering there for a moment before spreading out to the rest of the orchestra pit section of the audience. For that brief moment where I was engulfed in the light, the girls seemed to turn and sing to me as I lip-synced the song back to them. Another memory etched deep within the archives of my brain.

After the amazing show was over, it was time for the meet-and-greet. Excited though I was, I was also anxious about a few things. I wasn't sure who was coming to the meet-and-greet, and I wasn't sure what I was going to say. As for the latter worry, I eventually said during the long wait, "Screw it. I'm just gonna wing it."

Finally the meet-and-greet coordinator came out. "Good evening, everyone. The two girls that will be at your meet-and-greet will be Chloe..."

Damn the girl for pausing! My heart skipped so many beats. What lasted only about a second and a half lasted forever in my mind.

"...and Lisa."

If I coulda done a back-flip without looking utterly ridiculous in front of the small crowd of people at the meet-and-greet, I certainly would have. Going over my lines which would soon be forgotten when I got to the point where I'd use them, I looked to Natasha for strength. Granted, my dear friend Natasha is a very darkly sarcastic person, so looking to her for strength was like looking to a horse for cow's milk!

From the door behind the table with two chairs came two of the most stunning women I ever seen. Chloe's bubbly smile greeted us first, her blond hair shimmering in the light above her. "Hello, everyone!" she said brightly. Lisa came out second, her hypnotic smile scanning the crowd with an equally bright "Helloooo!"

Waiting my turn gave me time to take some much needed breaths of air. As I came up to Chloe, she extended her hand with a bright smile, and it was at that time I realized that she had an amazing pair of eyes much like Lisa's, and if I remember correctly, they were an intoxicating blue.

"Hello! My name is Chloe!"

"Hi! My name is Taylor."

"It's so nice to meet you, Taylor! I saw you down there in the third row. You looked like you were having a good time. You were all smiles and singing along. I almost thought I could hear you up on stage!" Oh my God, this goddess recognized me!

"Thank you! It's very nice to meet you, too. I must say, Chloe. I've been watching the Celtic Woman specials for a while now, and I must say your voice has grown so much and you look absolutely fantastic."

"Awww! Well, your check is in the post! You can take a seat right here and stay all night!"

We laughed and chatted a little more as she graciously signed some memorabilia for me. Chloe quickly became almost like a "buddy" to me as you'll see later in this article (I hope you've kept up so far).

Time to meet Lisa. Be still, my beating heart.

Handshake. "Hello, Taylor. Nice to meet you! I'm Lisa, and I also saw you down in there smiling and singing along."

"Hi, Lisa! I wasn't sure if you could see me, because I've been onstage before, and I know those lights can blind you."

She told me that the people in the orchestra pit were easy to see, because they were just under the lights that darken out the rest of the audience.

"Lisa, I love your voice and I love "The Voice." It is my favorite song, and I must thank you so much for inspiring me to find out about my Irish heritage."

"Oh, really? What have you found?"

"Well, my search has only just started, but I can tell you that my last name, Gibson, comes from England, Scotland, and Ireland."

"Oh, yes! My neighbors back in Dublin were Gibsons! What a small world!"

"Speaking of which, Lisa. Remember the song you sang for the Slane Castle special, Caledonia?"


"I go to school here in town, and my dormitory sits on Caledonia avenue."

She laughed, we said our goodbyes and shook hands and parted ways. Natasha said my face was so red. Well, the girls were probably used to blushers.

Natasha and I quickly called our mothers as we walked to the car, beaming with excitement and joy. It wasn't until after we finally reached out cars where we (at the same time, mind you) hung up our phones, took one long breath, and promptly screamed, "They recognized us!"

Part 2

Not long after the Knoxville show, I ordered another pair of ticket/meet-and-greet package for another friend and I for the show in Nashville, Tennessee. Don't need to go over the details of the show as they were the same as before mentioned except for one major difference - the interaction between me and the girls.

This time, I set in the second row and dead center. As I sat there, smiling and singing along, I caught Lisa's eyes as they neared the end of a song. When it was time to applaud, I clapped and put my two hands to my lips and blew a kiss at her. I was surprised to see her pucker her lips and kiss back! As Billy Mays once said, BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

Another song, this time, a Lisa solo. Again, I blew a kiss at her, and this time, she put her hand to her lips and blew one back! That, coupled with the reciprocated winks I got from her and Chloe made for a very happy me.

Time for meet-and-greet. This time, it's Chloe and Mairead. I was so excited to finally meet the Pixie of the group.

There they came in. When it was my turn, I shook hands with Mairead.

"Hello, I'm Mairead. It's lovely to meet you!"

"Dia dhuit (Hello in Irish), Mairead. I'm Taylor. Nice to meet you," I said as I handed my Irish textbook.

"Oh, are you trying to learn Irish?"

I said yes.

"That's very cool!"

"So tell me your secret, Mairead. Is it Gatorade?" I was referring to her seemingly never-ending energy as she sprinted around stage, danced, and played the most amazing fiddle solo's you will EVER see in your entire life.

She laughed and said, "Nope." We chatted some more, and she was so kind (although she did appear to be a little tired).

Time for Chloe. I was surprised to see her reach across the table to grab my hand."

"Hello! How are you?!"

"Hiya, Chloe...Do you remember who I am?"

"I do! I was talking to Lisa backstage, and she said, 'Taylor from Knoxville is in the second row,' and I said, 'I know!' We love seeing you out there. You're always smiling and singing along. You're an inspiration to us."

We have just lost cabin pressure.

My friend next to me patted my chest and said, "Chloe, you've made the night for this poor little boy." Chloe laughed as my Irish textbook was presented to her.

"Oh, are you learning Irish?"

"Indeed. Dia dhuit, Chloe. Taylor is anim dom. Conas ata tu?" (Hello, Chloe. My name is Taylor. How are you?)

She replied in Irish and I still kick myself to this day for not asking her what it was she said.

Another wonderful memory forever etched in my mind.

I am happy to announce that I will be seeing them yet again in April here in Knoxville. I can't wait for it! I'll be sure to blog about it! Thanks for sticking with me.....those of you who are actually reading this out there. :-)

Le gra

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Ultimate Goal

My ultimate goal, my dream, my quest is to go to Ireland. I've saved up for about a year now, and am halfway to my goal of three grand. That money will pay for a 10+ day bus-tour going all around Ireland, as well as food, souvenirs, and (I hope) plane ticket. If it's not enough for plane ticket, then that means more saving.

And more waiting.

I'm usually a pretty patient person. However, in my unspoken goal to learn as much as I can about Ireland, my patience wears pretty thin. Ireland is so beautiful and so full of places I long to see. As it is now, with no income until the summer, I will probably not get to Ireland by the end of this coming summer, which is my biggest wish. I will probably have to wait till the summer after to go, which while I'd finally reach the ultimate go of actually going to Ireland, is unbearable for me to think of in regards to the wait. One of my good friends advised me to advertise my Paypal account to see if people would donate to the cause. -shrugs- Maybe it'll work. If you're feeling so inclined to help me, if you find it in your heart of hearts to send a young man to Ireland to achieve his dreams, AND if you're in a good place financially, my e-mail for my paypal is

I'm stuck between two different bus tour providers - and

Paddywagon tours All-Ireland Deluxe Tour Pros:
Cheaper (but not by much)
Goes all around Ireland (including Belfast in Northern Ireland, a place I want to go to as it was where the Titanic was built).

Feels restricted to bus travel, a lot of time spent in a bus.
Doesn't seem to be a lot of freedom to do as you please.

Tenon Tours Irish Immersion Luxury Upgrade Tour Pros:
LOTS of freedom to do as you please, something I hold very dear.
Goes to most of the highlights in Republic of Ireland (not Northern)
Goes to Cobh (Titanic's last port of call)
Accomodations are second to none.
Truly immersed into the Irish culture.

Little pricey
No Belfast (However, I could always do a 2+ night tour of Belfast at a later time)

Let me know what you guys think I should do...that is if anyone's reading this blog.

Le gra

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Importance of Music

What is one of the first things (other than the obvious alcohol themed responses) you think about when someone talks to you about Ireland? The knowledgable people would probably answer with something having to do with music.

I mentioned in my first post how much I love Celtic Woman. While they are definitely my favorite musical group, my vision is not narrowed down to their music. Celtic Woman sings mostly traditional Irish music, some of them, while considered modern, still have that old Irish feel to them. Some examples of the former is the ever-famous Irish song, "Danny Boy." "Dulaman" is an example of a more modern song with an old Ireland feel. I'd strongly recommend going to Youtube and checking out both of those songs. You won't regret it.

As I said, I am not solely a Celtic Woman fan. The Dubliners are also one of my favorite Irish groups. They sing the tongue-in-cheek "drinking songs." My personal favorite is "Monto." That is where I learned one of my first Irish phrases - "Pog mo thoin" (Kiss my ass).

Enya is another very popular musician. She sings traditional songs, but also writes a lot of music herself, which could only be classified as within the "Enya" genre. One unique quality of some of her songs is her dubbing her voice over and over in order to get what sounds like an entire chorus singing together, with the harmonies and melodies gently intertwining within each other. A popular hit from Enya is "Orinoco Flow" (note that Celtic Woman also covered this song). My personal favorite is called "White Is In The Winter Night."

Irish music covers a wide range of genre's - Celtic, New Age, Pop, Rock, Irish, Traditional, Classical, and Folk. Before one could make an opinion about "Irish music," one must first experience all of the different styles of Irish music. Not all Irish music is like the slow and somber "Danny Boy," nor is it fast and funny like "The Rocky Road To Dublin." Look up on Youtube The Pogues' "Love You Till The End." If you didn't already know that The Pogues were an Irish band, would you have been able to tell that this song was an Irish pop song?

For me, I love all of the styles of Irish music. I especially love the songs where I can play my Irish frame drum (called a "bodhran" (BOW-rawn)). Speaking of which, if you want to start an Irish band, but don't know how to play an Irish instrument, try the bodhran if you have even the slightest knack for keeping time. The bodhran, I have found, is an incredibly easy-to-learn instrument and amazingly addictive.

Le gra <---Irish for "With Love"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Introduction to Erin

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Fall Semester 2008
Hannah's Dorm

Freshman year was getting off to a slow start. I missed home, and was labored with boring classes like calculus and geology. I was good in the former but usually nodding off in the latter. I was also the only freshman in the junior-level Japanese class (what was then my 5th year in taking the language, thanks to the Japanese program at McCallie High School). Thank God for meeting people. Through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), I met the rivalry with Army ROTC. Through that, I met Hannah of Army ROTC. Through Hannah, I met Natasha. The two of them have become two of my closest friends on campus.

On an unusually cold night in the fall season of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hannah invited Natasha and I up into her dorm room to surf the Internet. The events surrounding my resulting epiphany are blurred, diminished by the passage of time. The feeling, however, has yet to leave me.

Natasha pulled up a Youtube page, and we took turns watching music videos and the like. I don't remember what I played for them, but I know precisely what Natasha played next.

A brief close-up of a burning torch-lamp setting piece...the opening stanza of violins warmly playing, soft and pleasing. Then the voice of an angel brought down from the highest order in Heaven infiltrated my ears and left me stunned and silent.

"I hear your voice on the wind, and I hear you call out my name."

The video fades to a castle setting, obviously European. Red and green lights all around the stage and in the foreground, a breathtaking woman dressed in a red dress continued her angelic singing of her Heavenly song. Her eyes were wide, blue, and shimmering. Her hair was a lovely light brunnette.

"Listen my child, you say to me
I am the Voice of your history
Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call and I'll set you free."

The Voice's verse is softly followed by another red-clad woman, this time playing an amazing fiddle solo, and her hair was a shimmering blonde.

The Voice came back.

"I am the Voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the Voice of your hunger and pain
I am the Voice that always is calling you
I am the Voice, I will remain"

Again, the Fiddler (who immediately reminded me of a Pixie) complimented the Voice.

"I am the Voice in the fields when the summer's gone

The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow
Ne'er do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow"

This time, the Pixie not only tickled my ears with a lovely fiddle solo, she began to hop and dance around the stage in lovely freedom and grace. I would learn later in the video how talented she was. Not only does she play her fiddle amazingly well, she sprints and dances around on a multi-level stage in heels...while playing the fiddle. That and the Voice's ever-so-angelic tones and stunning beauty made for a very awed and inspired me.

After listening to the rest of the song, I looked at the title of the video:
Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman sings "The Voice"

I would also find that the fiddle player was named Mairead Nesbitt (May-RAYD_NEZ-bit). While I adored (and still do adore) Mairead's fiddle playing, it was Lisa who I was most inspired by.

After looking up Celtic Woman, I found the original line-up consisted of 4 singers and Mairead, the fiddle player. The 4 singers consisted of Lisa Kelly, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha (Mayv_Nee-Wahl-ka-ha), Orla Fallon, and Chloe Agnew. All of them with the same talent, beauty, and allure.

They immediately became my favorite musical group of all time, but they were more than that, especially after I had the lovely opportunity to see them twice (and I'm gonna see them a third time in April of this year). I purchase meet-and-greet passes along with my seats, and had the lovely opportunity to meet my favorite, Lisa Kelly; Chloe Agnew twice; and Mairead Nesbitt, the awe-inspiring, lively, and ebulient fiddle player. The story about meeting them shall come later.

All of them have a deep love for their country of origin - Ireland, which finally brings me to the purpose of this blog. I fell in love with Ireland. The music. The culture. The Guinness people. -shifty eyes- Okay, okay, Guinness is amazing!

I adore everything about Ireland, and the more I learn about it, the more desperate I get to achieve my ultimate goal - go to Ireland. I'm about halfway there to acquiring the three grand needed to go on a ten day tour around all of Ireland. However, I probably won't reach my goal of going this coming Summer as I have virtually no income at the moment. You could tell me to get a job, but I can tell you with the way my mind works, and the workload I've already got with school, it would be very difficult for me to balance a job and schoolwork. On top of that, my summer job doesn't pay that well. Therefore, I will probably have to wait yet another year to go to Ireland. I cannot wait to see the beautiful and bustling city of Dublin, the rugged terrain of Connemara, the cultural hub in Galway, the beautiful Irish Gaelic language spoken in the Aran Islands, and the rest of the major landmarks that Ireland has to offer (yes, even the Guinness Brewery).

Wow, this is quite a lengthy first post on my blog. Think I'll wrap it up in this paragraph. Ireland is a wonderful place, yet its beauty is so widely unknown to Americans, which in my opinion, is wrong. Much of our population have at least one ancestor from the Emerald Isle, myself included (and proudly so). I hope you'll learn a little from my posts about how great Ireland is. Let me know what you think, even better, let me know your experiences in Ireland, what I should look for, where I should go, what I should do, when I finally make it there!