Hi! I’m Teri, Matt’s wife and the Office Manager here at Matt Mead Photography; where I take care of many of the “behind-the-scenes” tasks of our business. One part of my job is to maintain both the Facebook page and this blog.
Normally, Matt writes a post and then sends it to me to edit and help tell the story behind his images – and I LIKE editing, I really do! I mean, the material is already in front of me, patiently waiting to be corrected, rearranged, or added to: and all I have to do is open the document and get to work. What could be easier?! I enjoy the sensation of reading my finished work, and hearing Matt’s voice jump off the page. THAT’S when I know I’ve done my job well.
But this post is different. These images are mine and I’m telling our story; not just editing it. So, here goes …
In April of this year my friend, Jenn, was telling Matt and me about a trip to Ireland she found out about through friends. She seemed really excited about it; well, excited would be an extreme understatement, but I digress … When Matt suggested that I go so Jenn wouldn’t have to pay the extra fee as a single traveler, I didn’t hesitate. Instead, I thought: “Um, you say Ireland for ten days?! Sign me up!” I know, I’m such a good friend, right?!
That’s how I found myself as part of the first ever “Open Doors: Ireland 2013” tour. A trip sponsored by SiÓchain Enterprises ( www.ciaransheehan.com ) – which both began and ended in Dublin – and took us to various sights and cities in Ireland.
As this was my third trip to the Emerald Isle, I had no expectations going into this trip; I was simply along for the ride. And what a ride it was!
Every day of our trip was filled with places to go and sights to see; many of which aren’t found on the regular tourism rosters. While we were usually on the bus about six hours a day, the time seemed to fly by as Ireland’s lush green landscapes rolled past us through the windows; taking us from one breathtaking site to another. Ireland does NOT come by the moniker, “The Emerald Isle,” by accident, you know!
Here are some of my favorite shots:
Cliffs of Moher
View from the Cliffs; a town in the valley
The Dingle Peninsula
Gap of Dunloe
We even went for a pony & trap ride!
Glendalough, a Medieval monastic settlement
St. Kevin’s Kitchen, Glendalough
Lough Tay, on our way to tour Glendalough
Jerpoint Farm, the site of a lost Medieval city and the grave of St. Nicholas (a.k.a. “Santa Claus”)
Landscape taken outside the grounds at the Hill of Tara
Torc Waterfall, Kilkenny National Park
War Memorial Plaque in Kilkenny
Rock of Cashel, seat of St. Patrick
St. Brigid’s Well
And finally, Trinity Well. Legend says that if you drink from it in the month of June, you’ll become a poet….
While I loved visiting each and every one of these spots, the most memorable moments I had on the trip weren’t captured on film; as what made this trip so different from my previous visits was the music that accompanied us throughout our travels.
Two of our fellow travelers are both accomplished, and amazingly talented, musicians and singers; and we were invited to be an active part of what they do. On two of the nights, we were guests at local pubs that hosted entertainment; places where these guys were invited on stage to join in on a song or two with the house band. But the other nights, we were invited to have our own seisiún – i.e. a “session”, or traditional Irish get together of music, song, poetry, and story-telling – somewhere in our hotel. We were all invited to take part, with everyone contributing their favorite song, or joining in on an instrument. While these seisiúns were a great bit of craic (“crack” – fun), they also added to the sense of camaraderie that we built up over the trip.
This wasn’t just an experience limited to after hours, as the guys were often kind enough to provide a song or two at many of the sites we visited; a thrill not just for us, but for the other tourists nearby as well: who often had no idea what was in store when someone called for a song! And many an hour on the bus was eased with the occasional silly sing-along as well. Being able to experience music, in such an intimate way, was the icing on an already perfect cake!
And it was an eye-opening experience, as I didn’t grow up listening to much Irish music, Traditional or otherwise. While my Grandmother was half-Irish, she preferred watching Lawrence Welk or listening to albums that took her back to the days when she would’ve rather danced than eaten. So it wasn’t a part of our shared heritage that I had a lot of exposure to; and, for me, the best souvenir I could have brought home was a new appreciation for the music of my people, of Ireland. I learned that the mood of Irish music, much like its weather, can turn on a dime — making you revel in its greatest joys then mourning its deepest sorrows. In my opinion, both are integral to the Irish experience.
Here are some YouTube links featuring a few of my favorite songs from the trip:
“Grace” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7NcTCfnJAY
Sung by one of our musician friends at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, by the grave of Irish patriot Joseph Mary Plunkett; a song about his widow, Grace, and their short-lived marriage.
“Letters from Kilkelly” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N76kAivCb20
Sung by one of the musicians who joined us for our seisiún at the Cappabhaille House on our second to last night of the trip.
“She Moved Through the Fair” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1YxHZPcMaQ
I first heard Sinead O’Connor’s version in the movie, “Michael Collins.” Also sung by one of our friends at the Cappabaille House seisiún.
“The Auld Triangle” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyWpb1V0dRo
Jenn and I had the pleasure of being serenaded by a bunch of guys from Belfast as we closed down the hotel bar at Druid’s Glen.
“Fields of Athenry” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLZRWNdGCUc
Performed on one of the nights our friends were called on stage to sing with the house band; perfect as one of our musician friends is from Athenry, Co. Galway.
“The Town I Loved So Well” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GlweCUixao
Sung on our last night in Dublin at the seisiún we had in our private dining room at One Pico.
“Johnnie Jump Up” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u56R_qHTLVI
Even our bus driver joined in on the craic and graced us with this song at our seisiún at the Cappabhaille House.
“Sister Jospehine” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRHg0ZjeC3U
A group favorite! It was requested a lot…
“McBreen’s Heifer” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFIifqGHl4
Another favorite with the group.
“Down by the Glenside” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_CrGMu83aw
Sung at Glendalough, in the ruin known as “St. Kevin’s Kitchen”, to show the incredible acoustics of the centuries-old building.
I’d like to wrap up this post with an old Irish blessing that was read at my grandmother’s funeral and dedicate it to all of the friends I met on this trip:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.