This morning on my walk for coffee, I passed a few pubs (we will call them that in honor of today) already packed with people dressed in green with pints in hand. I did not remember much about St. Patrick until I spent a fair amount of time in Ireland. He is a fundamental and mystical figure in the Christian history of Ireland…..I love that we honor the culturally rich history of Ireland by of course going to a pub or a pub crawl if you are a serious Irish follower. I know there is also a parade somewhere in the city where my blurry eyed friends are celebrating. I think I will play it safe and watch an Irish movie…or draw lepricons and shamrocks in my journal on this chilly Saturday. My mom did say the luck of the Irish get kissed today? never heard that…St. Patrick’s day makes me long for Ireland and the many times I have visited…and the cozy pubs in Ireland too! It is such an incredible place. I feel an affinity with this country because it is where my ancestors are from. There was no question about it when I met the people and drove around the country. I felt like I had found a part of myself which had always been missing. So, I made a project for two months on the rugged coast of Donegal about the potato famine and the period when my family emigrated to America. I am not a writer so I will end this shortly but I will say, spending time in Ireland was like living inside the best novel I had ever read….the music, the landscape and most importantly, the people made me feel like I was finally home.
Below are a few self-portraits and landscape photographs I made and some music discovered while I was in Ireland.
This self-portrait depicts a mother and child about to board a “coffin ship” leaving for America. They were called coffin ships because so many people died while on board. During my research in Dublin, I found a newspaper from 1850 with a drawing similar to the image I made. Photography was entirely new at this time so drawings were the main source to visually describe events.
The rare photographs are of families posing outside their homes. They are barefoot and the women always seemed to have something in their hands. This is also a rare traditional Irish home which was re bulit my a mason living with no electricity or bathroom. I tried to find a period costume which matched. I was freezing in late November.
While I was making this project, I lived in a home called Termon House. The house was once owned by an English landlord who was one of the few to help starving famlies survive. The house is surrounded by “famine walls” which the landlord hired the farmers to build in exchange for food.
On the up side…One of my favorite things about Ireland was the music.
I took lots of little videos on my point and shoot while driving around doing research. The music is by the Chieftans.
Deep in the forest of a town in Donegal County, I was invited to a private performance by Altan. Altan is a musical group lead by a woman with an absoulutely gorgeous voice. She is singing in Gaelic. Here is a little recording I made in the log cabin.
Below are professional recordings by Altan if you wish to get more into the Gaelic Irish mood.