Friday, October 26, 2012

Irish Music in West Virginia

Now there is a face that isn't too hard to look at for the better part of four days, right? A dual citizen of Ireland, where he was born, and U.S.A., where he has lived and worked since the late 1960s, Mick Moloney was the one who took a roomful of about 50 men and women on a visual and aural journey to learn about Irish culture and history through music.

I was a Road Scholar neophyte and so was my Mom, but my older sister, who took the great photo of Mick, has been to a few before, so she was our guide in all things Road Scholar. The population of these classes tends to be gray haired but also well read, educated, and often well-traveled.

One of the delights of our time there at the beautiful Cedar Lakes Resort (the large lake is in the photo above) was watching my Mom enjoy meeting and getting to know new people who were invariably kind and interesting folks. No one sent me a personality profile before registering so I don't know how it is that each person we met was someone I wished I'd met sooner. The other great pleasure (well, besides not having to menu plan, cook, clean up, etc for most of 6 days) was getting to spend quality time with my sister and my Mom. Nothing earth-shattering, but some deeper conversations than can usually be had during my flying visits east. A true pleasure in fact.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the classes, but was pleased to find that we were given a sort of sampler about various aspects of Irish culture, beginning with a bit about the Celts, about the Irish in Ireland and in America, about the similarities in the experiences of the Irish, Jews and African-Americans of being at the edge of the dominant cultures (which Mick maintains is where artists should be to create great art) and of being looked down on, too, and often abused. He is a skilled and enthralling folklorist so the days just flew. We ended with a little about the current peace between the opposing sides of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Each sampler was illustrated with film and music, some recorded and some live.

Joining Mick was his assistant Joey Abarta, an accomplished young Uilleann pipes player and 'a mighty man', especially with the electronics.

Mick Moloney is a master of banjo, guitar, and (I think) lute or mandolin, plus a delightful singer.
He is also a professor at NYU, an impresario and has recorded many, many CDs. If you want to know more his website is found HERE. He is leading a few tours in Ireland in 2013. Classmates who have toured with him before say that it is a not-to-be-missed experience. Wish I had the funds to join them.

I've often thought that the best thing I learned in college was to always ask more questions and try to find out more. At the end of this set of classes there were many new things learned which led me to want to find out lots more. Now that my cold is starting to retreat I'll have more energy to do just that. Finding the time may be more difficult, but there is no actual rush. Thanks Mick!

So there was plenty of food, cafeteria style food, but with a great salad bar, good conversation, beautiful fall color, a covered bridge (photo below), and lots of great music and information about Ireland and the Irish in America. No cooking, so no recipe this time. But just think, you got a tiny bit of 'culture' this time.

P.S. Thanks sister #1 for many of these photos!


  1. MAN. The Road Scholar thing sounds SO, so fun. Learn something new every trip.

  2. That sounds like a fabulous time! I'm so glad you got to go. Bonus that you could share it with your mother and your sister!