By: Blonde Two
Does everybody who visits Ireland secretly hope for a singsong? I know that Ali and I did when we embarked on our journey to County Roscommon. We grew up singing and even now, it is what our family does when we get together.
I am not quite sure who suggested the minibus singsong on our way back to the lovely Kilronan Castle, it may well have been us but it was definitely partly down to the delicious food and Guinness (rude not to) we had imbibed at the amazing Moorings Restaurant in Knockvicar (nobody knocked and I didn’t spot the vicar). What resulted, however, was a kind of cultural singing tour. Ali and I were expected to sing English songs that our new Irish friends might know and they were going to reciprocate with some Irish ones.
Ali and I have no shortage of songs in our memory banks, the problem was, of course, that memory banks rarely function when you want them to. We kicked off with ‘Scarborough Fair’, which was fine but a bit slow and definitely unknown and the singing journey went on from there. Our loudest choice was ‘On Ikley Moor Bah Tat’, which so confused our hosts that it prompted the question, ‘Which language is that?’ The Irish lads and lasses gave us a great rendition of some very patriotic sounding songs that I have never heard before and we managed to find some common ground in ‘Molly Molone’ (good old Molly), ‘The Wild Rover’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’ and give those a good bellowing.
My favourite song of all time is ‘Danny Boy’ (English words, Irish tune). I can never sing that without dissolving into tears (because it is such a sad song) so I attempted ‘The Rose of Tralee’. This, however, turned out to be a bit of a mistake because we have some family history with ‘The Rose of Tralee’. It was one of the songs my grandfather used to sing to my nan (he had an eclectic collection) but the story goes a bit deeper than that. Grandy never told us about his Irish heritage but he did call Nan ‘Mary’ (her real name was Jessie) and he did choose an Irish song to sing to her. A line from the song is now on her grave marker (my grandparents emigrated to New Zealand in their 80s).
Which all explains why a girl from Devon found herself sitting on a minibus in Ireland, not able to finish a song because she was thinking about a tiny white church, above a beautiful creek in New Zealand.
The pale moon was rising above the green mountain
the sun was declining beneath the blue sea
when I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain
that stands in the beautiful vale of Tralee
she was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer
but ‘twas not her beauty alone that won me
Oh no was the truth in her eyes ever dawning
that made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee
The cool shades of evening their mantels were spreading
and Mary all smiling was listening to me
the moon thru the valley her pale rays were spreading
when I won the heart of the Rose of Tralee.
The Miners Way and Historical Trail Ireland
The Miners Way and Historical trail is a long distance walking trail in Ireland. It starts and ends in Arigna in County Roscommon and is 118 kilometres long. This hiking trail was set up to encourage walkers to the area after the mines at Arigna closed in 1990 and some of the routes follow the paths trod by the miners on their way to work. Some sections of the Miners Way and Historical Trail are part of the almost completed Beara-Brefine Way, which, in turn, will form the first section of the Ireland Way, a complete South/North walking route up the middle of Ireland. Whilst the Miners Way and Historical Trail is generally completed in 5 days, it also offers a plentitude of beautiful day routes, each giving a taste of natural and historical Ireland.
We were invited on this trip by the Una Bhan Tourism Cooperative who covered our travel, accommodation and visitor expenses. All of the opinions expressed in this blog post are our own and are a true account of our experience.
The initiative was made possible by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Funding Scheme for Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure 2017.