Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The fado & Protestant culture

There's an interesting article in today's (17 Aug 2010) Irish Times by Torlach Mac Con Midhe, Idir an Fado agus an cultúr Protastúnach (Irish) {Trans: Between the Fado and the Protestant culture}

Fado by Jose MalhoaAn article by Alan Titley in the same paper started him thinking back to his youth when he travelled to Canada to study. Strangly enough his memory is not so much meeting and interacting with North Americans but with meeting those from South America, refugees from the fall of Allende in Chile, or from the "dirty war" in Argentina as well as Mexican, Venuzuelans, Columbians and Peruvians.

He found that these people enriched his experience far more than the dour North Americans. They were full of fun and energy. They were singing, dancing, eating, drinking, laughing (though the story at home was often tragic) and they played football. He found he could mix with them and that they respected him. He was able to sing "Ar an loing seo Phaidí Loingsigh" and recite "Tháinig long ó Valparaiso!" with out self consciousness. He could participate. He was welcomed.

One of the Argentinian girls, Rita, said to him, "You know, we have no friends among the Canadians! The only English-speaking friends we have are the Irish!" He notes that he had the same problem himself. There was no life or vigour to be found except in these exuberent Latins.

He reflects that in the recent past Irish emigrants have departed for the most part to the English speaking dominions and former colonies. However prior to that they went to the countries of Southern Europe. Though we are an Atlantic people rather than a Mediterranean, although we share that with the Portuguese, we have a "Catholic" tradition in common.

He muses that the empires sent colonists to their territories, and they either decimated the original populace leaving the descendants of the colonists in power. However in Ireland something else happened. The empire made colonists of the native people. They were gifted with the language and culture of the British. They were colonists in their own land. But at the same time it is impossible to deny that there are still "native traits" to be found in these colonists. For this reason they are a split, divided people in themselves.

He quotes Faust “Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,” (Alas, Two souls reside in my breast!). We have the soul of the colonist and that of the Gael in our breast and they do not sit well with each other.

He concludes with a stark question. "I believe that this is sometimes realised by the Irish language community (lucht na Gaeilge) but I wonder is it appreciated by the English speakers!"
By the way the Fado, in the article title, is a type of music from Portugal, learned, understood and appreciated by the author, not a million miles away from our own Sean-Nós styles. (see pic)

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