Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Celebrating the Links With Ireland

Newfoundland and Labrador's Avalon Peninsula is the site of the largest concentrated migration in the Irish diaspora; it's estimated that as many as 80% of Newfoundlanders have some Irish ancestry on at least one of their family trees. Much of the landscape is reminiscent of Ireland, and even the voices of the people echo the patterns of Irish speech. Some of the most Irish regions of this very Irish place are found on the southern half of the Avalon Peninsula, located in the southeast corner of the Island of Newfoundland. The most predominant dialect here stems from the southeast corner of Ireland: Counties Waterford, Wexford and Cork. It's not unusual to find communities that treasure and celebrate that Irish heritage through festivals, theatre and community concerts. In this most Irish corner of Newfoundland, I attended a St. Patrick's Day Concert that drew tight the Celtic knot of this link with every note that was performed. There were singers, dancers, instrumentalists and skits featuring local performers. Almost the entire community turned out -- the hall was packed with locals who joined in on the choruses of the songs and whose laughter made the rafters ring during the comedy skits. The schedule was packed with a full two dozen acts, most from within the community but a handful from places an hour or so away -- "just for variety" as the organizers explained. The concert was followed by a dance with a live band; admission to both concert and dance added up to $7 per person! The performers shown below are Kelsey Arsenault, Eta Nash and Eddy Lundrigan -- and no, Arsenault isn't an Irish name, but her mother is an O'Keefe!

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