- 14 Mar 03
With St. Patrick’s day on the horizon, the vexed question of what it means to be Irish once again comes to the fore.
Some local ceremony ended nearby, and the bar filled. One of the newcomers produced a whistle and a tune took flight. Other instruments appeared – a fiddle and a concertina. The whistler also played the flute. Pints were had.
They played a few sets. A young girl carrying a small square case arrived, accompanied by her mother. She was perhaps ten years of age, quiet and reserved. She took out her concertina and joined in. When the others took a breather she wasn’t shy in showing them the way. New rules won’t allow it. She’ll be expected to learn the tradition in some conservatory, and not at the elbows of real musicians.
Some years ago I visited Barcelona. Knowing the great Catalan art traditions, I tried to find some Catalan music. No deal. There was no such thing, they said. While some people did folk music in the square on Sundays, my informant wasn’t enthusiastic. Whatever music once expressed the life of these people was long dead and now only existed in neutered academic shows.