March 18, 2009 § Leave a comment
Yesterday night I crossed the wonderful page of The Irish Descendants here on Myspace, thanks to my friend Eva who picked them for her profile song. And that encounter reminded me of my long-ago passion for Irish folk music – which has never really deceased – and THE DUBLINERS.
I met the Dubliners when I was about 4. They lived on a big brown tape and used to sing to me almost every day. I was given the ultimate priority right to handle my father’s tape player all by myself (almost), later a halfbroken cassette player connected to stereo speakers (I believe I learned to attach the speakers myself, too).
I wonder if they were the only known Irish band in Soviet Estonia of those times (it was about 1986). Probably. And probably their recordings were not freely available either. I am not very sure about that. Maybe it was just rare (as everything) and you had no other choice than to make a copy. We had the Beatles, too, and that was surely forbidden stuff. Though the Soviet state was kind of breaking down already by that time, things were changing; I couldn’t quite catch the whole thing with my child mind, but from a few years later I remember my mother watching anxiously the news and broadcasts of the singing revolution gatherings in the capital Tallinn. We ourselves lived in Tartu; and we had borrowed a little TV from a friend for that occasion.
But in 1986, the Dubliners were part of my everyday life. I used to go a children’s dancing group or something – we did all kinds of stuff there, like singing and playing and dancing with ribbons. So I had my personal ribbon-sticks and I made up my own choreography to the Irish tunes at home. My special favourite was “Maids when you’re young never wed an old man”. :))) Let me assure you that I didn’t understand a WORD of English at that time! But I will always remember that tune. (Hmm, I wonder if it has somehow influenced me of my values in my later life, considering what the words really are… Who knows?)
Years later, I rediscovered the song, AND the meaning of the words (oh my, my) and I decided to sing it. Now, “Maids…” have become quite stuck to my repertoire. I often like to sing this jolly little song. In Estonia, half of the people don’t get the meaning (and sometimes I pray that they don’t!).
Once an Irish band came to give a concert in Tartu. I have no idea who they were. Probably not the Dubliners! The tiny concert hall was overcrowded, chairs were behind the door, lots of people everywhere. We were sitting outside on a chair, mainly because I believe my mom wanted to have a chance to escape quickly in case I became tired or just behave badly :) They must have sensed the lack of air in the main room, because they made a break and people came out to breathe. So I had a chance to walk around and of course I went to see the stage! :) So I was crawling at the edge of it, between the speakers and cables, tiny little creature. The musicians were on the stage and started speaking to me. Of course I understood nothing, but I was very excited. Because I liked them and their music a lot! They gave me some things, of which I had no idea of, looked interesting and colourful, though. I ran back to my mom and together we discovered that these were Irish coins, huge pieces of metal that had harps drawn on the backside and all kinds of other interesting pictures as well. I believe there were 4 coins altogether, all different. I kept them in a special place, a small green wallet (quite Irish green, actually). From time to time, I used to take them out and dream about going to Ireland. Sometimes I forgot about the coins; then came upon them again and remembered the whole story.
Now, more than 20 years later, I still have the coins, I still love Irish songs and dream about going there someday :)
Long live the Dubliners and may you all have hope in your lives!