Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Damhsa Gaelach

Just back from the All-Ireland Oireachtas in Killarney. It was not only a jaunt to the west of Ireland, but a journey into the Deep Past. Irish dancing was the great love of my childhood and early teens, but I left it to venture out into the wider world. How sweet and sad it was to return! How wonderful! There was my best friend, Sheila Delaney, dancing in the adult céili with other dancers I knew, Teddy Hall and Maureen Galligan. What a laugh we had together in the late night bar! And how good it was to see old faces such as Peter Smith, Paula Woodgate, Bernard Hines, and Jimmy Friel. I did shed a few tears at one stage, missing those who have left this world: my dearest friend and fellow mad-party-person Bernie Morris (to whom I dedicated the American edition of The Hunter's Moon) and my dancing teachers Mae and Paddy Butler and their daughter June. They were all such a big part of my life. And I thought of them as I watched the dancing on stage, so different from my day but recognizable still. Have to admit I got used to the costumes (started to pick out my favourites) and even the wigs. The dancing itself is far more intricate and exquisite. I was thrilled to see it. And, yes, it has inspired me to practise! Did a good half-hour today before I collapsed ...

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