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!

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