On Oct 18, 10:15pm, Ellen Sinatra wrote:
> Subject: "Irish-ness" and "Scottish-ness"
> First of all, thanks very much to Seamus MacConaonaigh and Dennis Doyle
> for their informative and welcome responses to my "Traditional Irish
> Religious Music" queries. It's interesting to me to see how, in a country
> such as Ireland where there have been many outside influences over the
> centuries, some older traditions remain and continue to spark the
> imaginations of people who identify with them. No doubt this music
> falls into that category...
> along with all the Celtic history and mythology that's being discussed on
> this list lately.
> Which takes me to my latest musings --- and questions.
> My friend Paulette and I had the good fortune to teach one of our Celtic
> music classes last week. Our (my) idea was to look at contemporary
> performances of traditional music in both Ireland and Scotland in terms
> of some of the major influences that have helped shape it today. It turned
> out to be a lively discussion, although most of the students in the class are
> primarily excited about Ireland ... and not Scotland. It seems that it's
> Ireland that has sparked their imaginations - with its history, music,
> and perhaps public image. But My heart is in Scotland (admittedly, I have
> never been to Ireland, so I don't pretend to be objective about this), so
> I'm wondering what's up. I wonder what people think of as "Irish"? What
> is "Irish-ness"? How about "Scottish-ness"?
> Since I'm finding I'm better at asking questions (most of the time, at
> least) than answering them, here are a few ideas I have about this. Also,
> perhaps my naive thoughts will stir some of you into the present day -
> at least for a moment. I'd love to hear what you think about this.
> I have an image of Irish-ness that includes a special way my Irish friends
> have with language. They love puns and play with words - sometimes that's
> ... cable-knit sweaters, tell great
"big jumpers", all colors
> stories - and appreciate it when others tell them, are strong minded,
> and love to play music - competitively, in pubs... all night long.
That's Ireland ...
> Scotland - or Scottish-ness, is another matter for me. I have been there
> a number of times in the past few years, and it's a place of friends for me.
> Hard lives and grit characterize lots of the people I know... coupled with
> really wonderful and funny stories. Things tend to be very personal ... the
> stories, the way people relate --- it all has meaning in people's lives.
> This is especially true for the songs, I think - and the references to
> history seem, as I know them, to go back to wars ... clan wars, Jacobite
> wars, the 1st World War, etc. Community is very important there. I think
> it's an extremely small world in Scotland - everybody seems to know what
"Valley of the Squinting Windows"
> everybody else is up to. "New-Age" mysticism was barely tolerated. While
> I was there, I visited the Callenish Stones on Lewis, and our B&B owner
> was joking about the "hippies" who came out for the summer solstice, etc.
> Her little children played hide-and-seek among those stones.
> I've done a lot of walking on Skye, and I've been offered a lot of
> lifts while I've been out waving off the midges. Maybe "Scottish-ness"
> includes a generous nature... maybe helping each other is how those people
> have survived. I also love the droll sense of humor, the wailing song-
> lines, the dogs rounding up the sheep...
And you can't get any more Irish than that, either ....