Caoineadh Cú Chulainn, Bill Whelan
Uilleann Pipes, Tara Howley
This is lament and love for an entire culture: a piece about mourning Cú Chulainn, a warrior hero and demigod in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. The underlying ‘drone’ of orchestral harmonies that are gradually heard here, like ‘dawn’ behind and around the lone (in this case, female) Uilleann piper, may bring tears to your eyes. Our lives are surrounded and supported by ‘other’ sounds – the cantus firmus, the enduring melody.
Friends have responded to a musical note at the end of my piece about Riverdance the other day: that it might usefully take up a post in its own right. ‘Lament’ has a place in all our lives as an encourager of reflection, a being present to what is, now, and an invitation to hope for the future, even when ‘the times’ feel bleaker than bleak – immense courage notwithstanding. This morning I heard a young girl, a seven year old soloist, beautifully singing the Ukranian National Anthem in a crowded Polish stadium. I cried. And I cry out, reaching for hope and harmony. Riverdance (and all that the notion of a river’s ‘dance’ might imply) came to mind, in company and in harmony with treasured friends, and again and again I have listened to the depth in this Lament – and invite you today, in the coming days, and months and years, to listen and to lament too – because harmonies do dawn – quietly, courageously, and persistently. And tears carry pain away down-river – to join in the being held, by a vast ocean.