You know, you can't beat the sound of a well-tuned harp on a wet day at Tara. That and the sound of specially picked words.
The recital went very well, considering the rain did its best to mar proceedings. Paul Muldoon acted as master of ceremonies and did an able and relaxed job of shepherding proceedings along. Unfortunately, the event had to repair to the disused church from the planned outdoor, that has been plainly restored, but the acoustics suited the gig very well.
I came a little late, just as Susan McKeown was giving a beautiful rendition of a song in Irish and English (for us heathens with little Gaeilge), accompanied by Aidan Brennan on a beautiful acoustic guitar. Paul Muldoon then quickly gave us a few poems; one about Beagles hunting the great Hare seemed to set a thread running for the next few turns at the mic, and the great Michael Longley gave us some beautiful poems that come from his time spent at Carrigskeewaun, over in County Mayo. He commented in his introduction that fifteen years before, he and a good few other poets and musicians had taken another 'turn' at Tara, to try and invoke peace. It seemed to have worked, he said and the audience loved this wry comment.
One of his set, about his first grandaughter, who came after four grandsons, was really touching. I think it is called 'The Foaled'? But I'll need to check that in my Longley Selected later on. Michael Longley was then followed by Laoise Kelly, an amazing harpist, who actually comes from Mayo.
Laoise has been involved with the protests against the motorway development for a long time, and told us of how she had met Paul Muldoon in, of all places, New Zealand, at an event. Her harping was a great addition to the programme, as she played 'tunes' that were collected over hundreds of years by people like Petrie and harp gatherings in Belfast - never mind the usual Carolan tunes that people expect from a harpist. I enjoyed her sets very much, as it reminded me of my own days spent on the harp from age fourteen to sixteen. Harping ruined my fingers for guitar playing, as I found out later on: I pluck instead of strumming - something which drove my later guitar teacher mad.
Just before I left, Paul Muldoon read from a sequence he has called 'The Old Country' - not a mocking poem about Ireland, but one that celebrates the localisms and colloquilisms of Irish cliches. I liked this very much, as did the audience.
Anyway, there was an email sheet sent around to collect addresses, and it is hoped that they will repeat this gathering next year to celebrate Tara's heritage and keep its plight in the public eye. So, I'll keep ye posted!