Monday, August 6, 2007

The Bard of Armagh

I am feeling very sentimental and sad because Tommy Makem, the great Irish singer, the Bard of Armagh, has died.

He sang with the Clancy Brothers for some years before going solo. He was the voice of the Children of Ireland in Exile, for anyone who had even a drop of Irish blood, or who wished he did. Anyone whose heart soars at the sound of a plaintive penny whistle, or the sweet, lyrical strains of a fiddle.

"We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?"

And so, in honor of Tommy, I imagine everyone coming together for a wild, joyous ceilidh. Oh, it will be held at Mad Priest's-- that way he couldn't make any excuses about the journey. Can you see the joyful crowd on the dance floor, with Grandmère leading the way so dignified and grand in her midnight blue silk taffeta, and Wormwood's Doxy cutting a very fine figure indeed (in red, of course), so that all the lads would line up for a dance, and she'd break their hearts by the end of the evening. Everyone would fall hushed to see Cecilia dancing so sweetly with her Beloved during a slow, sad ballad, and wipe their eyes and remember what it was like to be young and newly in love. Ellie would wear out a pair of red dancing shoes and drop exhausted into a chair, to be revived with ices and shandy. Mad Priest would eye the scene with a proprietary air from his seat of honor and smile graciously on all. But the real stars of the dance floor would be ePiscoSours and Counterlight, whose sophisticated dance moves would amaze the crowd. (Lisabeth would try, but you know what they say...)

Me, I'm behind the bar pouring pints, much too shy to venture onto the dance floor...(but towards the cusp of the evening, when most everyone is feeling blurred and happy from too much Jameson's, if Padre Mickey asked very sweetly??, perhaps not.)

And then, at the end, when they played "The Parting Glass," we would all rise and sway gently to the music, and remember what it is about this frustrating, bewildering, mortal coil that keeps us all from wanting to shuffle it off quite yet. That is, in a word, Love.

And now, please join the party!


Nicholodeon said...

Very beautiful wake. The Irish I know certainly have got the banshee style of mourning perfected.

I tips me glass in his honour and in your honour.

pj said...

Nicholodeon plugged this post over at MP's, so I thought I'd drop by. This is a gorgeous bit of writing, so it is. You brought a tear to my eye. A toast to Tommy Makem!

And I hope a little slam-dancing wouldn't be unwelcome at the ceilidh!


Aghaveagh said...

Oh, indeed, slam away! There are no rules to dancing at this ceilidh except that it be expressive and heart-felt.

Aghaveagh said...

Nicholodeon, thank you for the kind mention at the Mad One's Place. The sprites, pixies, and leipreacháns are all very grateful.