Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day. As I said the other day, this is a good month for Celtic patron saints, with Ireland being the third Celtic nation in as many weeks to celebrate its saint’s day. I was busy for most of the day so I didn’t get very much opportunity to mark the occasion, although I did listen to a bit of Irish music in the evening (including some wonderful traditional piping by Finbar Furey and an album by the Bumblebees, a lovely bunch of ladies with whom I once had the pleasure of playing at a jam following a gig they did over in Caernarfon several years ago).
Today I have been continuing the same audio theme by listening to more of my reasonably extensive collection of Irish music. This is mostly folk music based, but it ranges from quite traditional stuff (such as solo fiddling by Paddy Canny and some truly beautiful singing (mostly in Gaelic) by Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola) to somewhat more modern interpretations (for instance, the Mary Custy band, which has drums and everything!). The classical music world is represented by a set of four Irish dances by Malcolm Arnold, which are based on folk dances (he also did sets of English, Scottish, Welsh and Cornish dances, though sadly I forgot to listen to the latter the other week). In the true Irish spirit of not taking oneself too seriously, I also slipped Tom Lehrer’s Irish Ballad (an exploration of all the cliches of the genre which has to be the most hilarious murder ballad of all time) in there.
Probably one of the most esoteric bands in my collection of music with Irish connections is the Russian band Белфаст (that’s “Belfast”, for those of you who don’t read the Cyrillic script). I first discovered this band on last.fm about 18 months ago, where they had (and still have, at the time of writing) several tracks available as free downloads. The genre of their music is described as “rockapaddy”, a term I’ve never encountered elsewhere that apparently means an Irish-oriented mix of Oi, punk and rock. I’ve no idea what Oi is supposed to be but I can certainly detect punk and rock influences in there. Some of their stuff is quite Irish flavoured, although some of it sounds more country & western to me. In any case, it’s quite fun to listen to.
This evening I hope to be going to another meeting with the Bangor polyglots. At least one member of the group speaks fluent Irish (while I have a very limited command of the language), so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s one of the languages spoken about (or, indeed, spoken) tonight. I may also depart from my usual choice of Wychwood or Jennings beers and have a pint of Guinness or Magners, or some other beverage from the Emerald Isle, depending on what is available.
In case you were wondering about the patron saints of the other Celtic nations (apart from Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, whose saints have featured recently in this blog), Brittany has St Anne (traditionally recognised as the mother of Mary and hence grandmother of Jesus), who is celebrated in July, and Scotland has St Andrew, whose feast is on 30th November. I was unable to discover from Wikipedia (the font of much, but not quite all, knowledge) anything about the patron saint of the Isle of Man.