Our intrepid Miss Linda went to Cobh
In response to a sign from above
An enormous book store
On the far western shore
Who says money can't buy ya love?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
from the entry for "Belfast Lough":
"It's scenery, on both shores, is strikingly beautiful. An illiberal or prejudiced stranger, who enters Ireland by sailing up to Belfast is confounded by the brilliance of both the natural and the artificial features, and is liable under the rebound of feeling, to imagine that all he has heard of Ireland's bogs and poverty is a jest and that he is entering one of the most charming and opulent countries in the world."
from the entry for "Dublin Bay" (I merged the two readings together)
"It exhibits so noble a combination of scenery and affords at different points such attractive varieties, such fine interchanges of the soft and august as to have won for it the fame of being a reduced copy or large miniature of the Bay of Naples; and thought destitute of features which correspond to either the natural sublimity of Vesuvius or the artificial power of the remains of Pompeii, it possesses a sufficiency of charm to justify the assertion of a celebrated (Scottish) writer of acknowledged taste that a (British) admirer of the picturesque will regard the prospect of the bay as ample recompense for the expense and trouble of a trip to Ireland."
There once was a lass with pink hair
Her longing to be a castle bard,
She scribes for O.C.
an alto she be
Our Rhonda will do what she dare.
Young Bernie did everything choral
And helped Karen with everything floral
he Took his choir on a tour
and now he is poor
'Cause he needed some surgery oral.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
It has been a fantastic tour, with loads of sightseeing, great company, and cool concert venues galore. Happy trails to everyone!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
The concert last night was a great experience and the best way to end the tour and our performances. I'm not sure how many people were there but my guess is about 400-450 including the people from the Voices of Limerick who shared the concert with us. Everyone was so appreciative of our music and gave us such gushing compliments. I am truly humbled!
I plan to add more to this blog including pictures and limericks that were written by the tour group for each other. Stay tuned for more!
After we returned from the cliffs we changed into our formal attire and headed off to the Augustinian Church for our joint concert with the Voices of Limerick. We got there more-or-less on time but the 3 p.m. Mass was running quite late (it was a Mass for the Sick and they closed with Benediction, it appeared). So we got into the space around 4:05 instead of 3:45. We spent the time waiting milling around in the back and chatting with the Limerick choir. Finally we got up in the sanctuary and had the chance to run through a little bit of our joint number ("Down By The Riverside" by John Rutter) and then as it turned out we started the concert early (at 4:20). The Voices of Limerick sang first. They were much larger than we (I think I counted over 70 of them) and had a very full, warm sound. They sang for about 30 or 40 minutes; I particularly enjoyed a Mendelssohn piece they did and another in Gaelic by a local composer. Then we sang:
- Down In The River
- Glory of the Father
- Pater Noster
- Lux Aurumque
- Irish Tune
- Lagan Love (this was a BIG hit)
- Loch Lomond
- Deep River
- My Soul's Been Anchored
They really loved us and applauded wildly, so we sang our encore (Aint-A That Good News) and then the Voices of Limerick joined us to sing the joint piece. It went quite well, especially for such little rehearsal together. All in all it was our best concert of the tour -- the church was packed and the audience very enthusiastic.
After the concert we went back to the hotel and the Limerick choir joined us; we had an impromptu reception at the hotel and took some pictures and hung out and enjoyed some fellowship. I can't say enough about how warm and welcoming they were -- they were so kind and complimentary. I hope if we host a choir in the future we can do half so well.
After the reception wound down we had some dinner in the hotel and went to bed. Today we are scattering to the four winds -- some are staying on in Europe, headed to various destinations, and the group travelers leave for the airport at 11 a.m. (one last bus ride with Danny!).
All in all it's been an amazing, wonderful time and one that I will always treasure.
Friday, July 4, 2008
There was great food with which, of course, we only had a knife to eat! And one of our own was put in the dungeon! Ron (Swingen) was only down there for a few moments but he played the sorry soul well when released. :o)
We added(?) our own US of A brand to the evening and did a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever on kazoos. Yes, kazoos. It was well received but perhaps that was the result of the free flowing mead and wines!
Truly a good time was had by all and we must thank Mark Flannery and Christine Pellham for suggesting and making this opportunity happen! I hope to be able to post pictures at some later date.
For now, it is late and I must be off to bed. Tomorrow is our last touring day on this fair isle before we head home on Sunday and return VERY LATE.
Yes, this is our latest venue, and it was great! our Bunratty Castle concert turned out to be in Mac's pub on the castle grounds...well, not exactly in the pub, more like really near the pub... in a barn because of the light rain.
We were certain our concert was going to be for only a barn swallow or two, but due to Gunnar's tireless promotion (ok, and the ensuing downpour) the place was packed with delighted visitors who loved our singing. Also the barn acoustics were surprizingly good - what an adventure.
I guess it's almost time to go home: all the hotels are starting to blur together. I'm looking at this photo from a short time ago, and can't quite remember what hotel it was or what city it was in.
The hotels have all been quite nice in some way - either conveniently placed, or spacious, or comfy beds... and (nearly) all the rooms in all the hotels have had close to American showers.
Yesterday we drove the Ring of Kerry, which is a scenic drive from Killarney out along Dingle Bay and back around. The views were... amazing, and we had amazingly good weather the whole time. Really, the weather the whole trip has been quite awesome -- it's rained quite a bit, but with few exceptions it has been really nice when we wanted to be outdoors. We stopped for lunch at a place Danny knew that had an amazing view of the sea; and later we stopped for ice cream in a village with the unlikely name of Sneem. We also went through a frighteningly small, narrow tunnel (we applauded Danny the driver for that one).
On the way back to Killarney on our drive we stopped at Muckross House, a manor house built in the mid-1800s. It has been restored quite nicely and the house and grounds are just gorgeous. Our tour guide had the most beautiful Irish accent, it was to die for ;-).
After Muckross House we returned to the hotel and rested and had dinner on our own, then gathered at 9 to share some early farewells since our schedules wouldn't permit proper goodbyes tonight or tomorrow. On the tour we've all had a "tour buddy" who we were responsible for making sure was present when the bus leaves. We were all tasked with writing a limerick for our tour buddies, and we shared them. I'm hoping we will all post them at some point. I'll just say that some were sweet, some were just darn funny and all were appreciated and a lot of fun. What a group! We also shared some limericks for Danny, our amazing driver and Gunnar our guide. Danny has been SO much fun on this trip -- skillful, knowledgeable and really funny. It's been awesome. After the gathering we commandeered the snooker room and sang some songs and shared some jokes. Eliot played some tunes on his pipes, and he accompanied Kate on a beyoooooootiful song she sang. Ron then led us in some other songs with his guitar and then I called it a night.
This morning we left at 9 (Danny played Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" (I think that's what it's called) in honor of July 4th) and drove to Adare, a small village not too far from Limerick. We sang a 15-20 minute concert in the park opposite the visitor center and had a reasonably good audience, but it was outside and it was hard for us to hear ourselves. We did a pretty good job though!
After we left Adare we drove to Bunratty Castle and had time for lunch (I paid €17.50 (about $25!) for some really good roast beef with mashed AND new potatoes (see Biff's post below), carrots and cabbage, a Coke and some lovely cake. Then we had a castle tour -- pretty cool. The castle was built in 1425 and except for replacing the roof they didn't have to do too much restoration. After the tour we grabbed our music and since it had started to rain, we went to sing in a barn next to the pub we were originally told we would sing at. We sang for about 20 minutes or so and actually had a surprisingly large and enthusiastic audience (about 50, I was told) -- I'm not sure where they came from but I think Gunnar rounded them up. It actually was one of the better concerts on the tour -- as Kristi said, "Who'd a thunk it!?"
After the concert we got on the bus and headed for the hotel, taking a moment to mark America's birthday by singing "America the Beautiful" by special request from Kate :-). It was heartfelt and really touched me. The hotel is really nice -- the nicest rooms we have had on the trip so far, and free Internet! Yay :-) Tonight most of us are going back to Bunratty Castle for our banquet. It should be a lot of fun.
Tomorrow is the Burren region and the Cliffs of Moher, then a joint concert with the Voices of Limerick. Sunday the group travelers head home. I'm about ready to sleep in my own bed... it will be nice to be back in the USA.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The cathedral was built in the 19th century and is very, very beautiful. We were dressed in our formal attire and looked quite spiffy, befitting the surroundings. It was a real pleasure for me personally to attend Mass and receive Communion at this holy place.
Oh, and if the whole thing wasn't surreal enough -- we've been told the Oregon Repertory Singers (ANOTHER Oregon choir) is supposed to sing at the cathedral *tomorrow* night. And, there's a choir concert tonight at another St. Mary's (an Anglican church) down the street from our hotel right now. Wow! As Danny, our driver, said -- what's going on in Oregon that half of Oregon is singing in Killarney?!
Leaving Kilkenny we drove to Waterford and went on the Waterford Crystal plant tour. It was truly impressive to watch the craftsmen at work. Unlike many factory tours, this one really let you see what goes on and how it's done. Of course we had some time to look at the showroom afterward and several tour members invested in some beautiful crystal :-). There was a 20% discount for 4th of July week, presumably aimed at the large number of American tourists.
This morning we left Waterford and drove to Cobh (pronounced "Cove"), a.k.a. Queenstown, and visited the museum there. It talked about the history of the port, the Famine, and the area. We only had about an hour and 15 minutes there, just barely enough to get through.
After Cobh we drove to Blarney castle -- this was an addition to our itinerary and (for my part) a most welcome one. We had just a couple of hours there but it was enough time to pony up €10 to enter the castle area and (of course) kiss the Blarney Stone! I have photographic proof that I'll post on my MySpace when I get home :-).
After Blarney castle we drove to Killarney for our concert. I'll blog that separately if I have a chance.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Dublin has many bridges across the River Liffey. We said goodby to Dublin this morning and headed for Kilkenny. It started to rain soon after we left and rained off and on (mostly on) until after we left Kilkenny.
Kilkenny is quite a busy, colorful town and we spent about 3 hours there visiting the cathedral, walking around, shopping, and having lunch.
We arrived in Waterford around 3pm and drove on out to the Waterford Crystal company. We had a very interesting tour and then an opportunity to shop. So many pretty pieces! We are staying at Dooley's Hotel which faces the River Suir. We had a nice walkabout after dinner along the river, stopped at a 11th century Franciscan monastery ruin right in the middle of modern buildings, and looked in store windows (all closed by then) - very pleasant. It would be fun to explore Waterford some more but it's just a short visit as we leave for Killarney tomorrow.