Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Start of the Parting Glass

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

As if we couldn't include anything else in a 24-hour cycle filled with exceptional events, the day after our labors at Harold's Cross brought us to two different places:  one the backbone of Irish hospitality and culture; and the other, the backbone of the magisterium of the Church.  In some ways, putting these events at the beginning and the end of the day made for a perfect, though perhaps unique set of bookmarks.

We started out at the Guinness warehouse.  That's right!  And here's a fun personal fact: for all my years of traveling to Ireland and most especially Dublin, I've never darkened the doorstep of the place (oh, wait – we shot straight up to the Gravity Bar for the ND/Navy 2012 weekend, to provide a little music while the choir was there).  But again, never the warehouse proper.

So we learned all about the barley, and the hops, and the almost-lost art of how to make a barrel out of oak planks.  Everyone had a great time (even before pouring a pint), in part because we had worked so hard the day before at Harold's Cross – for not not only did we videotape an exceptional liturgical celebration (see yesterday's post), but that evening, we gave our last concert in the Dublin area, again hosted by Harold's Cross parish, and quite nearly packed.

Walking through the Guinness exhibits illustrated just how strong is the link between this brew and the people of Ireland – their history, their accomplishments and failures, their philanthropy.

That afternoon, we convened in Harold's Cross Pastoral Centre for what was the beginning of our closure together on tour.  Every year, we intentionally schedule several hours with the choir so that the seniors can look back, exhort their fellow singers and instrumentalists, and – to be frank – grieve and be grateful for the rich experiences of the year.  This year was no exception, with wonderful remarks, heartfelt tears, great moments of laughter – all leading to a sacred sense of thanksgiving.
My favorite quote was offered by Alex Hanna, in Irish:  An áit a bhfuil do chroí is ann a thabharfas do chosa thú.  "Your feet will take you where your heart is."

Then it was off to our final Dublin destination:  the Nunciature, or Papal Residence of the Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown.

We've met up with Archbishop Brown several times over the past few years.  He's a big fan of the House of Brigid, having been down at Clonard and witnessed the work of Laura Taylor and her colleagues last year.  He was also on Notre Dame's Campus a year ago January, when we invited him to a rehearsal.  And after that rehearsal, he proclaimed, "Party at my house!"  And so – this was the party.

Once again, a beautiful group of friends and benefactors joined us.  And as expected, the good Archbishop welcomed us with great joy and hospitality.  He's a Notre Dame graduate (so happy for that kinship!), and so was amongst his own for the evening.  For our part, the lovely reception hall had fabulous acoustics, and we put them to good use, singing "Rosa Mystica" and "Come to the Living Stone."  A great night was had by all!

We were now into the last couple of days of our journey.  Echoes of "The Parting Glass" were becoming stronger in my mind.  Such a glorious group of men and women, bound together by song and faith and joy.  But there was one stop left.

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