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Celtic Air: Moya Brennan

Photo courtesy of Marvin (PA)
Moya Brennan – Triskell – Trieste
courtesy of Marvin (PA)

What better way to truly celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day than to join a céilidh? Since such intimate gatherings are a bit tough to come by here in the DC area, the next best thing would be going to National Geographic and immersing yourself into the music of Moya Brennan. On her last stop of a brief U.S. tour, Moya will be filling the air with her ethereal voice and Irish and Gaelic music tradition.

Known best as the front singer for Clannad, Moya’s solo career has flourished over the last two decades. (My wife – herself of strong Irish heritage – and I have been a fan of her music since Moya’s first solo album Máire, which came out in 1992.) Bono of U2 describes her as “one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced.” Her seemingly otherworldly voice mixed with her mastery of Irish and Gaelic musical traditions have made her into a master of taking traditional, cultural music and making it “new” for the modern age.

I had the extremely blessed opportunity to chat with her about her life, traditions, music, and Saturday’s sold out concert. Continue reading

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St. Patrick’s Day: What’s the craic?

Irish banneSign of the times at Bottom Line by Corinne Whiting

St. Patrick’s Day seems to fall at a good time of year—just after we’ve groggily “sprung forward” and just as we’ve been teased out of our winter hermit holes by the sweet promise of spring. Winter vacation seems a lifetime ago; Memorial Day beach treks couldn’t feel farther out of reach. Truth be told, we’re ready for some good craic.

This holiday always seems an ideal time to check in with Irish mates I haven’t properly caught up with since my last trip to Éire. I write friends based in happenin’ Dublin and off “busy” getting sunburned in fabulous places around the globe to wish them a happy Paddy’s Day. (Note: if you accidentally let slip “St. Patty’s Day,” prepare to be scolded for incorrectly feminizing the legendary saint!) This year I surveyed my friends’ March 17 plans, knowing that the night before would be the big night out thanks to a national holiday on St. Patrick’s Day. Over there March 17 seems a day, at least for my friends, to take it easy—catching up over pints and coffees, cycling into the country and, most importantly, avoiding the chaos of city centre. The downtown Dublin parade, it seems, can be saved for the kids and tourists.

So what then does March 17 (unfortunately not a holiday here) mean for Washingtonians? Perhaps the Obamas will dye the White House fountain green again (touch wood). And while the holiday will no doubt give venues an excuse to charge covers to droves of bar goers on a random Wednesday night, it will also give bar goers an excuse to spend a Wednesday night clinking glasses of green beer, downing Irish car bombs and flaunting real or feigned ancestry (“Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons, anyone?). It’s also a day when cultural traditions get a wee bit muddled here in the “melting pot” of America—Scottish and English customs become Irish; anything Celtic goes….

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