================================================= The Information about Ireland Site Newsletter October 2006 The Newsletter for people interested in Ireland Now received by over 50,000 people worldwide http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.irishnation.com Copyright (C) 2006 ================================================= IN THIS ISSUE === Foreword === News Snaps from Ireland === New free resources at the site === Play the Irish Lotto === Ancient Ireland #3: The Firbolg === A Clan Gathering by June Sasser === Jillian's Ceili by Dena Mooney === Towers of Two Saints by Daz Beattie === Gaelic Phrases of the Month === Monthly free competition result ================================================= FOREWORD ======== Our series on Ancient Ireland continues this month with an article about the mysterious Firbolg, one of the great Celtic Tribes of Ireland - enjoy! Please DO send us in your stories, poems or articles about Ireland for the next edition - we love including reader contributions, until next month, Michael WE NEED YOUR HELP! PLEASE - send this newsletter on to your friends or relatives who you think are interested in Ireland. By doing this you are helping to keep us 'free'. Got something to say? Don't keep it to yourself! Why don't you submit an article for inclusion in the next edition? Go here for more information: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm Do you have access to a website? You can help to keep this newsletter alive by adding a link to any of our websites below: http://www.irishnation.com http://www.irishsurnames.com http://www.ireland-information.com http://www.allfamilycrests.com http://www.irishpenpals.com If you have an AOL or HOTMAIL account then you will get much better results by viewing this newsletter online here: http://www.ireland-information.com/sep06.htm The only way that you could have been subscribed to this newsletter is by filling out a subscription form at the site whereupon a confirmation notice would have been issued. If you wish to unsubscribe then go here: http://www.ireland-information.com/newsletter.htm ================================================= NEWS SNAPS FROM IRELAND ======================= RYANAIR ATTEMPTS TO TAKE OVER AER LINGUS Low-cast airline Ryanair has made a dramatic bid to take over its arch rival Aer Lingus by buying a 19.2% stake in the company, just days after the former State airline floated on the stock exchange. The Irish Government still holds a 28.3% stake in Aer Lingus with the Employees owning a further 9.85%. Union opposition to the takeover is very strong however and despite the possibility of a big payoff to employees should they accept the Ryanair deal it appears that they may yet scupper Michael O'Learys audacious plan. IRISH GOVERNMENT COALITION SURVIVES The ruling Fianna Fail and PD coalition looked to be on the brink of collapse recently as revelations about personal payments to Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn were made public. Fianna Fail were already making plans to form a minority Government before the new PD leader, Michael McDowell, agreed to see out the government term of office, which means that the general election will not be held until next Spring. Despite the financial scandal the popularity of Bertie Ahearn remains high, much to the bewilderment of Fine Gael and Labour leaders who are hoping to oust the current Government in the next poll. SELLAFIELD OPERATORS FINED The long-running campaign by the Irish Government to have the Sellafield nuclear reactor in Cumbria closed down was again highlighted with the news that the operators of the controversial energy plant have been fined EURO 750,000. The fine was levied because of a radioactive leak that occurred at the plant in 2005. GOVERNMENT TO PRESS AHEAD WITH INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN The 70 B.illion Euro National Development Plan will not be scaled back by the Government despite warnings from economists that it should be scaled back by 11 B.illion. The Economic and Social Research Institute advised that the construction industry is not best prepared to handle such a massive injection of capital. The Development Plan includes such huge projects as the widening of the M50 Dublin Ring Road, the creation of the new Metro line from Dublin City Centre to Dublin Airport and the provision of a second Terminal art the airport itself. IRELAND TOPS FREEDOM OF THE PRESS LEAGUE TABLE A report by Reporters Sans Fontieres, the organisation that promotes press freedom and campaigns against censorship and torture, has declared Ireland as being among the most liberal of press societies in the world. Along with Finland, Iceland and The Netherlands, Ireland recorded a record of zero censorship or press intimidation. Those countries which were rated worst include Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea. The United Kingdom was ranked 28th out of 168 surveyed countries. The United States has steadily fallen down the index in recent years to 53rd place, a big drop from its position of 17th in 2002. DISASTER FOR IRISH SOCCER TEAM An appalling 5-2 defeat away to Cyprus has left Ireland's European Championship qualifying campaign in tatters and has raised serious questions about rookie-manager Steve Staunton. Despite an improved performance in the 1-1 draw at home to the Czech Republic a few days later, the chances of the Irish team qualifying for the finals look remote and any further embarrassment will surely bring an end to Stauntons brief tenure as Irish team manager. HARRINGTON IS TOP EUROPEAN GOLFER Despite a mediocre Ryder Cup there can be no denying that Padraig Harrington is Europe's top golfer. A second-place finish in the final tournament of the European tour was enough to secure him the European Tour Order of Merit and set him up for an assault on next seasons 'majors'. Voice your opinion on these news issues here: http://www.ireland-information.com/cgi-bin/newsletterboardindex.cgi ================================================= NEW FREE RESOURCES AT THE SITE ============================== NEW COATS OF ARMS ADDED TO THE GALLERY: The following 4 coats of arms images and family history details have been added to the Gallery: C: McClinton D: Devey G: Garagan S: Shaules View the Gallery here: http://www.irishsurnames.com/coatsofarms/gm.htm THE PERFECT WEDDING, ANNIVERSARY OR BIRTHDAY GIFT! We now have over 100,000 worldwide names available. Get the Coat of Arms Print, Claddagh Ring, Screensaver, Watch, T-Shirt Transfer or Clock for your name at: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestgifts.htm ================================================= PLAY THE IRISH LOTTERY ====================== 34 M.illionaires were created by the Irish lottery in 2003! 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Email the friendly staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at: http://www.irishlotto.net ================================================= ANCIENT IRELAND #3: THE FIRBOLG =============================== The Firbolg were an ancient race of people that ruled Ireland before the Tuatha de Danaan and the Melesians. The origin of the name of these peoples is still subject to conjecture with 'men of spear', 'men of the bag' and 'men of boats' being suggested translations. Legend has it that the Firbolg were enslaved by the Greeks. For three centuries their persecution continued before they eventually stole some Greek ships and set sail for Ireland. The leaders of the escape were five brothers, Slainge, Rudraige, Genann, Gann, and Sengann. The 5000-strong tribe headed to the west coast of Ireland but were soon scattered by the rough seas and had to land at different bays. They reformed at the Hill of Tara where the country was divided into 5 Provinces. These boundaries substantially survived into modern times and became four Provinces, with two of the original five being merged. Ireland prospered under the Firbolg. They had a political structure, administration and a kingdom. They brought bronze-age technology to Ireland. They fought off persistent raids by the Fomorians, who they united with on several occasions to ward off would-be invaders. For 37 years there were 7 successive Firbolg kings who ruled over a thriving land. A new wave of invaders were on the way however, the Tuatha de Danaan. Despite negotiations and time-stalling tactics by the Firbolg, defeat to the technically superior Tuatha de Danaan was inevitable. Despite staring defeat in the face the Firbolg petitioned the Tuatha de Danaan for once last chance of victory: a battle between equal forces. Bravery was not enough though. The Firbolg were finally defeated at the Battle of Moytura but not before they impressed the new rulers of Ireland with their fierce courage and honour. The country was divided again with the western part of the country, Connaught Province, being assigned to the Firbolg. From this time on the power of the Firbolg waned. They continued to live in the West of Ireland and, together with he Tuatha de Danaan and the Milesians, are regarded as one of the great Celtic tribes of Ireland. ================================================= YOU CAN HELP TO KEEP THIS FREE NEWSLETTER ALIVE! Visit: http://www.irishnation.com where you can get great Irish gifts, prints, claddagh jewellery, engraved glassware and much more. Anne MacDonald ordered a family crest plaque: Hello, Michael, Received my plaque, carefully wrapped, in good order. It is splendid! I am thrilled, and I know that my dad, for whose 81st birthday this was ordered, will love it. I would like to order another one! Everyone who has seen the plaque has been really impressed, even those who, as my daughter says are 'not into ancestor worship!' Again, my hearty thanks for this first-class product. Best wishes for happy holiday season. Sincerely, Anne MacDonald THE PERFECT WEDDING OR ANNIVERSARY GIFT! View family crest plaques here: http://www.irishnation.com/familycrestplaques.htm ================================================= A CLAN GATHERING by June Sasser ================ The Leary/O'Leary Clan Gathering was held in Inchigeelagh in September of 2006. We had a great Leary/O'Leary Clan Gathering in Inchigeelagh. I think there were about 35-45 of us there. The US was pretty well represented with people from Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, California, Massachusetts, and Michigan. There were also several from England, one from Austria, and of course quite a few from all around Ireland. Quite a good mix of people. My daughter, Shannon, and I arrived there on Thursday morning. Eugene O'Leary (one of the committee members who put the gathering together) was wonderful enough to give us a lift from the Cork Airport to Creedons Hotel in Inchigeelagh. I wasn't brave enough to try driving in Ireland, so we didn't rent a car. We were very grateful not to have to take a taxi from Airport to Inchigeelagh - even more so when we realized it was about a 45-minute drive! We stayed in Inchigeelagh for the entire Clan Gathering. It's a very, very small town (doesn't even have a bank there!), but quite nice. Those who were already there by Thursday stayed up quite late that night talking about various things including the prices in the US vs prices in Ireland and England. We felt very welcome as a part of the group immediately. The O'Leary's are a warm and friendly bunch. On Friday morning Eugene took Shannon and I into the nearby town of Macroom and dropped us off for a few hours so we could change our American money into Euros and see the sights of Macroom. We visited Castle Demesne while we were there, and walked down to the river which was quite a lovely walk. Macroom is quite a nice little town. On our way back to Inchigeelagh, Eugene took us by to see the O'Leary castle which is located just outside of Inchigeelagh on the River Lee. It was beautiful there, and we were quite impressed to know there was an O'Leary castle! That afternoon, Shannon and I walked up to the old church ruins and walked around the cemetery. It was beautiful. We also walked through the cemetery of another church down the road (not the ruins) and found it very educational. We'd never seen graves done up with the colored stones and borders like they do them in Ireland, and we really liked how they looked. Later that afternoon, we walked across the bridge over the River Lee and went into the park that goes down alongside the River Lee. It was really nice, peaceful and restful there. It's a very nice, well-maintained park. Friday evening was quite casual, with everyone getting their itinerary and just getting a chance to meet and talk with each other. We met so many wonderful people! There weren't too many people Shannon's age (she's in her 20's), but there was one young man from Michigan (now living in Austria teaching English) that was just a year older than her. His name is Rush Bowers and they talked a good bit over the course of the weekend and found they had several things in common - one thing being the Harry Potter books. Rush was there with his Aunt, Roberta Frenzer, from Indiana. Friday afternoon they rode bicycles to Gougane Barra and back. Shannon and I didn't get to see Gougane Barra on this trip - but it surely gives us an 'excuse' to come back again (not that we'll need one!). Around 9:15 that evening, we all gathered next door to hear Tomas O Canainn talk about Father Peter O'Leary (An T'Athair Peadar O Laoghaire). He was quite instrumental in the resurrection of the Gaelic language in Ireland in the early 1900's. The talk was quite interesting - I hadn't done any reading about him beforehand, so it was all new information to me. Afterwards, we stayed up pretty late talking and getting acquainted. Saturday morning we did the group photograph. We had planned to do it outside, but unfortunately it was raining so we went to the gathering place next door to Creedon's Hotel and did it over there. We had a few of the group missing from the photograph, but most of us were there. After the photo, Miriam O'Donovan came and did a talk about Father Peter O'Leary from a slightly different perspective. Again, it was a very interesting talk and left Shannon and I wanting to read more about him and to read some of his works. Also during this time, many of those attending the Gathering posted their genealogical charts on the wall for everyone else to look at - and compare to see if new 'cousins' could be found. This is also the purpose of the DNA testing project being done which can help identify which branch of the O'Leary's we belong to. I would have loved to participate in this testing, but they are only doing testing on the males who carry the Leary or O'Leary name. They have matched up some people through this testing during the time they've been doing it. In order for me to participate, I need to find a male relative carrying the Leary name, which I haven't been able to do yet. ~~~ This article can be read in the online edition and can be viewed here: http://www.ireland-information.com/oct06.htm#article
After lunch on Saturday afternoon, most of us got in the bus for a trip to
Manning's Emporium in Ballylickey to get a sample of some of the foods of
West Cork. Joe Creedon gave us a running commentary on the sights along the
way to Ballylickey. At the Emporium, there was a selection of meats,
cheeses, olives, vegetables, fruits, and breads. Wines were also available
for those who wanted to purchase them separately. The food was wonderful,
and we were having a great time despite the rain. Then we returned to the
bus and went to do a little shopping in Glengarriff. It was still raining,
but we didn't let that stop us. Afterwards, we all got back on the bus to
head back to Creedon's. Unfortunately, we had a little mishap with the bus
(we heard a loud bang and the bus started bouncing up and down quite badly
toward the back of the bus). The driver got out to see if he'd had a
blowout, but it turned out it was a spring for the shocks on the left rear
of the bus. We continued on our way - very slowly. I think Shannon and I
were sitting right on top of where the spring let loose and we were nearly
tossed out of our seats several times on the trip back. It was still
raining, and some of us were a little nervous on the way back - and even
more so once we discovered the wipers on the bus had broken and he was
driving without them. There was a good bit of singing done on the bus - I
think some of it was to distract us from the trip. One lovely "little old
lady" who looked like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth was telling
off-color jokes at the front of the bus. I was quite surprised by that -
just didn't expect it! Unfortunately, I don't remember her name. She did a
lot of singing on the bus and later at the get-together at Creedon's, and
had a very sweet voice. We eventually made it back safe and sound and very
happy to be back at Creedons!
Saturday night we had the annual dinner. The food was wonderful and everyone was very talkative and friendly. Shannon and I sat with Patrick and Chique from Georgia. They are a very nice couple, and we enjoyed their company. After the dinner, we had music and more singing, and Joe raffled off a painting he had done (the proceeds to go to the general fund). I think Shannon was a little disappointed she didn't win the painting (it was quite a nice painting); I was lucky enough to win one of the smaller prices - a plate. I made a remark to Shannon that I would have loved to have one of the paintings on the wall at Creedon's done by one of the art students at the annual art class held there. The painting was of the O'Leary castle - unfortunately it had already been sold for 400 pounds - way out of my price range for sure! All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and again we stayed up very late talking and singing and having a glorious time.
Sunday morning after breakfast, Richard Fensome (the man who takes care of the O'Leary website among others) talked to us a little bit about the website and some other websites to check out while doing genealogical research. Kathleen Flanagan was supposed to give a talk on family research in Ireland, but was not able to attend the gathering and so Richard was generous enough to give of his time and knowledge to help us out. After this meeting, we had the general meeting to elect Committee members (we re-elected the same 3 members) and conduct general business. We were also given an update and overview of the DNA project by Peter O'Leary. At the end of this meeting, one woman from California (she is an O'Leary by marriage) talked to us a little bit about a project she and her husband (who wasn't there) have in mind. Apparently the O'Leary castle is up for sale and they would like to set up a non-profit organization and purchase the castle to keep it in the O'Leary family. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to discuss this in much detail because of the time, but quite a few of the people at the meeting seemed in favor of it. We'll have to wait and see if it comes to pass. If anyone wants to know more about it, I think her e-mail address is email@example.com
After the meeting, we had lunch and then we all had Mass together. We were going to try to go to the ruins of the old church in Inchigeelagh (there are many, many O'Leary's and Leary's buried in the old cemetery), but the weather didn't cooperate. It had cleared up by then, but the grass would have been quite wet so we had it back inside. Even though I am not Catholic, I was asked to do one of the readings which I was very happy to do. One of the men in attendance at the Gathering is a Priest from Boston, Father Barry O'Leary, and he is the one who did the Mass. It was short, but very nice. After that, the gathering being officially over, there were quite a few people who left. Shannon and I stayed on until the next morning. Of course, we had another late night talking, singing and dancing - Joe had another musician in for the locals and we joined right in with them. Patrick and Chique did quite a bit of dancing - and they are quite good! Joe also had some books listing Leary/O'Leary people in and around Inchigeelagh (from the 1800's) and I spent a good deal of time going through those books to see if I could find my great-grandfather Lawrence Leary or his parents . Unfortunately, I didn't. But that's ok - I'll find him by process of elimination if I have to!
Monday morning just before we left, Joe presented Shannon and I with a painting he had done of the O'Leary Castle. We were thrilled. It's quite a lovely painting, and we plan to get it matted and framed so we can hang it up here at home. After that, Shannon and I were lucky enough to get a ride with Geraldine Dare and her mother into Blarney. Geraldine's mother was staying in Blarney for another week, but Geraldine was flying back to England. Again, we were grateful to get a lift since we didn't rent a car.
All in all, I think everyone had a really good time. I was amazed at how friendly everyone was, and how very accepted we felt by the entire group. I can't begin to remember the names of everyone we met, but there are a few that we will definitely remember.
Joe Creedon was a wonderful host, Eugene is a very thoughtful and considerate man (I told him so, and embarrassed him I think!) and we appreciated all his help, and Peter was very informative about the DNA testing. I think we have a great committee in place, and look forward to attending another gathering in the future. Finances won't allow me to attend every year, but I certainly do plan to go again as soon as I can.
Next year's Leary/O'Leary Clan Gathering will be held from September 14-16 and will once again be held at Creedon's Hotel in Inchigeelagh. The DNA project, of course, is ongoing. I don't know what the topic of the Gathering will be at this time, but it's sure to be interesting and informative.
Why couldn't her family see she was grown-up now? After all she had her 8th birthday just last week and that meant she was grown-up. They even said so. Her Mam said she was a big help now that she was older, and her Da, will he said how beautiful she was becoming and what a big lass she was now. Even her two older brothers, who never paid any attention to her, except to get her in trouble, said she was getting smarter now that she was 8 yrs old. Well, it sure didn't seem like it, especially today of all days. The day of her first Ceilie.
They were coming from all around the countryside to celebrate her Mam and Da's anniversary. Their 25 th anniversary. Jillian didn't know why it was so special after all Mam and Da had been together ever since she was born and she knew they would always be together right there in their little Galway cottage, with the fairie hill and the old stone wall. She knew that even before she was born, they'd been together. That was when her brothers were born!! And that made her parents ancient. At least to her they were. She didn't know how old they really were, but she thought they were pretty old. It didn't really matter though. If they wanted to celebrate that was fine with her for she had never been to a Ceili (kaylee). Jillian had heard plenty about Ceili's. The dance, the musicians, the food. Oh! How she wanted to see them dance. Her best friend from school, Maire had told her all about Ceili's, having experienced one herself. Maire said she had been to one last year at her cousin's house in Shancarrig. Maire told all about the dancing and the music and the food and how everyone from all around came and how much fun it was. Maire ! (Mary) told her how grown-up she felt because her Mam let her help that day. Maire's Mam gave her a very important and responsible job. That was to shine all the silver that had tarnished from long years of unuse. It was very special because this was Maire's Mam's silver that she has gotten from her Mam who had gotten it from her Mam and the silver was very treasured. Maire's Mam trusted her with the silver and she polished it to a brilliant, gleaming shine. Maire even said her Mam told her what an excellent job she did. Maire (Mary) said she felt so grown up now. Jillian wondered, 'Why couldn't her own Mam trust her with an important job like that? The way Maire's mam had trusted her? Why did she just tell her to go play and stay out of the way?”
Jillian stayed behind the wall with its gray stones and deep green moss, to watch with sadness yet excitement on the preparations going on down the steep hill at her cozy little cottage. She watched with wonder as the men constructed the stage where the dancers would dance to the music played by the Irish band her Da and brothers played in. They played the bodhrans and her uncles played the harp and flute and the other musicians had different instruments too! She loved the instruments and wish they would teach her to play. Especially the bodhran like her Da and her older brothers played. But, they said she was too young to learn and had to wait until she was older. Maybe she had to be 12 yrs old to learn to play.
Jillian couldn't quite remember if she had fallen asleep. She just knew that suddenly before her stood an old gentleman. Actually, he looked as if he was really very, very old. Kind of all twisted and bent. With an old odd cane that he leaned wearily on, and a strange bag hanging off his old bent shoulder. She had never seen anyone quite like him and it kind of scared her a little bit. But, then there was a kindly twinkle in his eyes, and his mouth sort of curve up in a smile around the old pipe that was there in the corner of his wrinkled old mouth. She knew some how she wasn't to be frightened at all, at all. She also noticed he wasn't very tall. About her size. He was all bent over though, so he might be taller if he stood up straight. That also made her not feel so afraid. She didn't know why but he seemed almost magical. Like the twinkling stars in the very dark blue night sky. She decided she wasn't afraid but just curious. Her mam always told her she w! as a curious creature, always wanting to know about everything and asking too many questions. Jillian didn't think she did. She just wanted to know about things. She didn't see anything wrong with that, after all she didn't want to seem dumb like her brothers who were really stupid boys.
'Dia duit! Hi there!' he called out to her.
'Who are you?' Jillian asked the old man, with a very surprised look on her tear stained face.
'I am just passin' by and I saw you cryin'' he replied, with a very kindly voice. 'I thought I might be able to help you for I don't like to see fair young lasses with red eyes from cryin' so.'
'Is it that you might be wantin' to help with the Ceilie and your Mam won't let you and you being all grown up now at 8 yrs old?'
'Aye', she said to him with a shaky voice. 'How is it you know this for I have not told you anything of meself?'
'Haven't I seen you up here on this knoll many a time when your brothers have made you cry?' 'I know this is the place you come to and ask for a sidheog a fairie to show herself to you. I know a lot about you young Miss Jillian, even your name, that I do', he said softly. 'And wouldn't I to be helpin' you now for you're a good lass and needs you be shown that?'
'Aye,' she replied to him as she dried her eyes. 'I am so excited to have me first Ceilie and I do want to help so badly. I want everyone to see me and know that I am grown up now and can do things to help. I'm not a baby anymore. But they think I am. What shall I do?' said Jillian to the kind old man.
The wise old man reached into the old tattered brown leather bag and pulled out a bodhran and a stick. The bodhran had a picture on it that Jillian had never seen before in all her life. It was some sort of symbol maybe, or maybe it was from the ancient times when the Druids and their magic were all over Ireland. Yes, that must be it. A magic sign, a magic picture. It kind of looked like a unicorn if you looked real hard at it for a while, well, maybe not, but it did seem kind of magical.
The bent old odd looking man handed it to her with the stick, and said. 'Wouldn't you play it for me?' 'I am an old man and I love to hear the music of the bodhran.'
'But I know not how to play, for I have never held an instrument of this beauty let, alone played one.' she replied, as she carefully inspected the beautifully made instrument. Made of a precious wood and the whitest of all leather laid tightly across the round circle of the wood and was nailed in with golden nails that seemed to shine so brightly in the sun light.
'Go ahead, just tap it with the stick' (which also seemed magical as it was so light she barely knew she had it in her hand). 'It's easy, you'll see. Go, go on now just a little tap' the leprechaun like man told her.
Jillian tapped lightly, almost reluctantly, on the instrument that she so carefully held in her hand, and once she did, a beautiful melodic sound was heard. A sound that did not at all, at all sound like the bodhran her father played. Or her older brothers who always bragged that they were the best in all the land. This sound was almost magical, like what she imagined a fairie drum would sound like. She nearly dropped the wonderful instrument but held it tight, for to drop it would be like dropping a sacred bible and she knew all about that. 'Fainne oir ort ,Bravo, good for you' said the man. 'Keep drumming'. And she did. It almost seemed like it wouldn't let her stop. It was like it was made just for her. Just for her hands, and it felt like she was meant to play it.
As she kept tapping the bodhran the most beautiful sounds came from it. She became unaware of the time and of her sadness and even of the old man sanding there with his kindly eyes twinkling even brighter then before.
Aye,' he said, 'I would not want to stop such beautiful music, but I must go and I should think you would want to go down to the Ceilie as I see they have started and the musicians are playing. The dancers are jigging too! You could go down and sit next to the stage and play along with them just fine.' 'It seems as though you were born to play this instrument as beautifully as the angels and fairies in all the universe.' 'Go ahead, go and luck be with you my young lass.'
'Go raibh mile maith agat! ,May you have a thousand good things!' She replied excitedly.
'Slán agus beannacht leat, Goodbye and blessings on you' whispered the old gentleman in a wistful way.
Off she went. Scampering as fast as she could with her new instrument in her hands, towards the Ceilie, for she surely would do as the old man said and sit on the ground next to the stage and play along with the musicians. She found a wonderful spot to sit. Just close enough so she could follow along with the music and not be seen by all the relatives and her parents. You see, she knew if they saw her they would tell her to go play somewhere else. That she shouldn't sit so close to the stage. Her brothers would make fun of her and tell her she didn't know how to play and she feared they'd take her beautiful bodhran away from her. But this cubby hole was just perfect and no one could see her for she was almost under the new wooden stage. But she wasn't too far under where she might have been totally hidden. So she picked up her precious bodhran and started playing. She played and played and her music was in perfect time as though she had practiced these songs all ! her short life and in the life before this one if there was such a thing, like the fairies believed there was. She played so long and so deeply that she didn't realize the music had stopped. She didn't realize that everyone was staring at her with profound wonder in their eyes as though they couldn't believe this small little girl of only 8 years of age could play like the fairies. Her brothers, Tom and Michael, were astonished and couldn't believe she was better then they were, for they could not remember her ever playing a bodhran before. In fact, where did she get one like that? It must be magical or something to even make sounds like that.
Her parents stood in awe also wondering how she learned to play and even wondered when could she have possibly learned and from whom? They knew not of any lessons given her. She must have sneaked one of her brother's bodhrans and practiced. That was it. She had watched her brother's practice from secret spots and stole one of theirs to practice on. They were sure that, that was what she was doing in all the times she went up to the hill. But where on earth did she get this bodhran that was so beautiful it almost took a persons breath away. Surely she couldn't have boughten it. For she had no money and this one would be far too expensive, even for them, to buy and anyway they had never seen such an instrument in all their travels. They had seen many when they had traveled afar. She stole, it she must have, they thought. She will definitely get the switch now and have to take it back to whomever she stole it from. But who on earth would possess such an instrument?
Somehow, no one could speak out to her for the music was magic. It was after her brother Tom nudged her that she finally realized she had been playing without the musicians and that everyone was staring at her. Now she went and did it, she thought. She's been caught, and what's worse she feels foolish. She stared back, with her face as red as the red in her copper hair, waiting for their words to come, waiting to get in trouble. But there was only silence. That seemed even worse. If only someone would say something. If only her parents would take her home so they could question her and give her, her punishment. Then it would be over, but she prayed they wouldn't take her precious drum away from her. She would do anything. Anything they wanted. She would stay grounded for years if only she could keep her instrument. She would fight her brothers, for they could not have her bodhran with out a fight and then she would runaway if she had to, so they couldn't find he! r and take it from her. She would go plead to the fairies to take her in and let her live with the fairies and leprechauns and unicorns and all the magical creatures of the netherworld. But there was still silence. Unbearable silence. Jillian could even hear them breathing. One hundred people in this room, all breathing at once.
Not knowing what to do or how to break the silence, she did the only thing she knew how. She started playing her magical bodhran again. When she did there was a thunderous sound. The thunderous sound of clapping and cheering. The people and even her family were cheering her and applauding her for they had never heard such a sweet beautiful sound before. And it was then, that she suddenly realized, they actually approved. All eyes were on her. Not because she was in trouble. Not because she sounded foolish. Not because she was so young, but because her music was glorious and because now she was a star and now she could do something better then her brothers. But the most important thing she knew was that she would never again be told she couldn't help. For now, they would always want her around. And they would always pay attention to her. Now, she was important.
Later that night when she was in bed, staring at the glistening, twinkling stars in the dark night sky out of her bedroom window, she wondered. She wondered who that old, odd, bent up man really was and where did he suddenly come from, for she knew he did not just walk up to her from the road. And where did that magical bodhran come from and where did she learn to play it so beautifully? Was it possible that he was a leprechaun from under the hill? Was the bodhran really magic? Or was he just a neighboring old man on a walk across the fields and ancient knolls of Ireland? As sleep came over her and her eyes shut tightly, you could hear the beautiful music of the inhabitants of the nether land in the distant knolls playing sweetly. Sweetly, she once again dreamed of beautiful fairies, old leprechauns, fairy princes and Cu Chul•ainn, The Fairy King.
'Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild, With a fairy hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than You can understand.' - W.B. Yeats, 'The Stolen Child' ~~~ This story is Dedicated to my Granddaughter ....Jillian Dena Mooney