Ode to the Harp Tour
Our Trip Through Ireland
By Pam Freheit
We gathered our crew at The Grand Malahide Hotel
To begin this Irish tour with tales to tell.
With Seamus at the wheel and Marianne and Kathy beside,
We toured the glorious, green Irish countryside!
Our first stop was in Cavan for giant scones and Irish tea
Where we heard local jokes about how one could be stingy!
We learned of Irish history—of O’Rourke, and Yeats, and Red Hugh O’Donnell
Of Bunting and Burns, O’Neill and McConnell!
We tried to read road signs, but the Irish version was on top,
And we rode round and around those “Roundabouts” to avoid having to stop!
We saw thousands of white cottages built of stone and stucco to last,
With only slight variations to the modern ones so they all echoed the past!
We saw breathtaking flowers growing from rooftops to the ground!
Their colors were brilliant, rich, and profound!
There were roses and petunias and hydrangeas in all hues
From lime green and pink to lavender, purple, and blue!
There were white sheep and black-faced sheep…and yes, all black ones too!
Big woolly sheep and some already sheared, and those soon to become Irish stew!
We learned about modern solar farms and saw huge windmills on the horizon,
And saw countless ancient stone castles as we drove ‘round the bend!
We saw miles of granite stones piled up in long walls
And learned how to Two-Hand Dance, as the steps, the teacher called!
There were cemeteries with stone monuments of generations past,
And newer versions with plastic flowers and photos under glass!
We observed herds of rugged grass-eating Irish beef
And field after field of rainbow-colored sheep!
We learned about land grants to plant non-native trees
To patient investors who wait thirty years for a return on their fees!
We learned about ancient peat fields and their use as fuel
And heard stories of brave Irish kings who long ago ruled!
We traveled down narrow roads that tested OUR nerves and the skill of our driver,
And loved all his Irish jokes that made our trip even livelier!
We visited Carolan’s statue and sang at his grave
And applauded competing harpers who were young and brave!
We cannot see a potato without recalling the rampant hunger
Which spared no Irish people, neither older or younger!
We have seen both ancient and new harps and played tunes from the past,
And been awed by trad musicians who played “ Oh! So very fast!”
“Another Bloody Castle” is a phrase we now know as the “ Irish ABC’s”
And we eagerly photographed the vast horizons of coastal Ireland’s seas!
We see that both Guinness and Ireland have a harp for their crest
And were schooled about The Troubles and Ireland’s Civil Unrest.
We learned it is NOT just a conflict of Catholic and Protestant people,
But about Civil Rights and Equality ……..not just churches with steeples!
We were awed by the coastal ridges of Slieve League and the Giants Causeway,
And managed with both pounds and euros, our tourist bills to pay!
We are grateful for all the fine musicians among us,
As well as the Expert motoring skills of our driver, dear Seamus!
We were astonished by the fine concerts and musical sessions
Performed by Grainne and Billy, who also taught harp lessons!
Our harp tour will end soon, the day is coming up fast.
Then we will sing our farewell tune called “The Parting Glass.”
As this enriching trip now winds down to the end,
We are grateful to have experienced it among so many new friends!
It was MUSIC that unites us to a common Heart beat……
And the Harp, most specifically, the core of this retreat!
‘Tis these shared adventures and Irish memories we will recall
When we play the tunes we heard on the roads through Donegal!
So the question at hand now is this: “How’s the craic?”
“T’was MIGHTY!” we shout, as we all answer back!!!
Written by Pamela Freiheit
From Summerville, South Carolina
Harpers’ Escape Tour of Ireland 2019
July 30-Aug 9, 2019
Harp Tour Limerick
By Don Jenkins
There is a bus driver named Seamus
Who throughout all Ireland should be famous
He’s such a good man
The best in the land
We may be biased, but who’d blame us?
Seamus is a great driver all righty
Each morning he’d greet us so brightly
Whenever we came back
He’d ask “how’s the craic?”
And we’d all exclaim “it was mighty!”
And what can we say about Marianne?
If anyone can lead a tour, she can
She kept us all straight
And we think she’s great!
Trad Tours: The best way to experience Ireland!
For Kathy, making music is her thing
And our instruments she encouraged us to bring
With Dennis at her side
We made music far and wide
And occasionally, we even managed to sing!
We all packed rain gear to wear
But the weather throughout our tour was fair
It’s hard to complain
About Ireland with no rain
So we enjoyed lots of sun without care.
Reflecting on our time with the tour
We have much to be thankful for
We remember the time
Seamus stopped on a dime
And no one even fell on the floor!
Our harp tour is now at an end
And to our travel plans we must now attend
Although we must part
Memories remain in our heart
And best wishes for safe travels we send.
So it’s goodbye we all now are saying
Even though some of us may be staying
We’ll all be home soon
Our lives to resume
For good health and long lives, we’ll be praying.
And as we now say adieu
We hope our tears will be few
Great memories abound
And new friends we’ve found
Relationships some day to renew.