Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Irish Reception at St George's Hall

I am dancing on air tonight, having spent the evening as the guest of the Irish Ambassador to the UK, in the company of President Mary McAleese at an Irish reception to celebrate Liverpool's European Capital of Culture status and the strong and powerful relationship between Liverpool and Eire.

A confirmed Eirophile (is that right? Have I just invented that?) I adore Ireland and am slowly working my way round it over successive visits. If Dublin is at 3 o'clock I have probably made it round the clock to about 10pm. There cannot be much left now before I hit Northern Ireland and I would love to visit there too, especially the massive lake I can see on the map that dwarfs any in the UK.

Councillor Joe Anderson was invited to two separate functions today with the President and knowing how much I love her and Ireland, he kindly invited me to accompany him this evening to a wonderful musical evening in the truly outstanding small concert hall in St George's Hall. He was really very thoughtful and kind in ensuring that my evening was wonderful, introducing me to people and including me in his conservations (and in telling the President how big a fan of hers I am).

We were entertained by four musicians, forming a group; John Carty on fiddle and banjo, Kieran Hanrahan on Banjo (who hails from Ennis in Co Clare, my favourite County in Ireland), Arty McGlynn on guitar and Matt Molloy on flute (I think they called it a concert flute, it looked more like a wooden instrument than a silver one?)

They were wonderful, playing reels, jigs, polkas and other toe-tapping music.

They were joined by adult Irish Dancers Rosemarie Cooney and Derrie Murray and by 8 year old Roisin Seoighe, who danced and also sang in the sean nos style (songs which are unaccompanied, songs that have been repeated generation by generation for many hundreds of years).

When the President spoke she explained that these 7 performers were the cream of Irish music and she was proud to bring them to Liverpool to showcase the best of Ireland in a city that was showcasing its own talents to the world.

She spoke wonderfully well and without notes for the main part, about the strong relationship between the UK and Ireland and the strong relationship in particular between Ireland and Liverpool. She talked about the Great Starvation of the 1800s and how a million people left Ireland and came to Liverpool, either to stay or to pass through on their way to a new life elsewhere.

Every time I go to Ireland, when I tell them I live in Liverpool I always get the same reaction - that Ireland considers Liverpool to be part of the same country. That Liverpool is Ireland's second (or sometimes third after Cobhe) capital city. That Liverpool and Ireland are on either side of the same coin.

President McAleese said that in every brick of every building in Liverpool there is a little bit of Ireland.

I loved Ireland long before I came to Liverpool, even as a visitor, and I love that my adopted city is so close to my adopted country.

At the reception after the event I was fortunate enough to be personally introduced to the President and to her husband but I was amazingly tongue-tied and only really managed to thank her for a wonderful evening. I am afraid I was not able to tell her about my Irish ancestors (including my GGGGrandfather Philip Brady who was the "Herbert" of Dublin in the 1850s) or that I fully intend to retire to Ireland when my time comes - to the Banner County

I also had a long chat with Rex Makin and his wife about the Deane Road cemetery project, they are hoping to make our open day later this month.

And I also had a chat with Phil Redmond about the Liverpool Mural Project and how important it is that we promote the new mural very strongly in the hope that others now take up the opportunity to have a mural themselves.

What a great evening!

It is month's later but I just found the President's speech on the web - and she mentioned my name - I dont think I noticed at the time, I was far too star-struck. How lovely!


JB said...

Ever kissed the Blarney Stone Lou? ;o)

Anonymous said...

Must the Irish continue to lay claim to this city? British finance, British trade and British labour built it.

We fed them, clothed them, put roofs over their heads and they still whine on with their stupid little Vauxhall flute band playing the Irish national anthem.

If they love it so much, why don't they just go and live there?

Old "orange" Dick said...

Why is this anonymous pretending to be me