Sunday, September 23, 2007

Over 1000 turn up to create a human harp at Tara

An experience to last a lifetime

An experience that those there will not forget through there lives. 1:00 pm the people arrived on Tara Hill and issued with white all body suits with hoods. One size to fit all from children to giants to all dimensions of bodies that volunteered.
Tarahumanharp
We were each given tickets that explained where we were to be in this adventurous but exciting demonstration. The plot was to form a human harp form and the words “Save Tara” beside this. The position selected for me was near the bottom of the right of the second A in TARA. It took about 16 to 20 people lying down from foot to lap to form a letter. Our positions had been marked out by “precision” surveyed white string. The demonstration site was within the large outer court henge between the Royal Court and Loaghaire’s henge to the south.

By about 2:30 pm about 1000 people had turned up and our rehearsals were well under way. The sight of 1000 people all in white hooded suits on Tara Hill was a very surreal sci-fi sight. The sky was cloudy, probably quite perfect for aerial photography dependent on white showing up. There was fear of drizzle on the way, but we only experienced a few seconds of that.

While we were waiting some harpists had arrived to serenade us, a couple of activists gave us their speeches and a fascinating Co. Donegal storyteller, called Breezy, who tells stories while preparing bread and traditional pastries, whipped us up into chorus singing. I have that filmed and will post the film clip soon. In a later blog I’ll have to tell you about her book, “Bread, Scones, Stories & Song”.

And then it happened, eventually

Just after 3:00 pm the helicopter was in the air and everyone is position for the grand photo. Then someone spread a rumour that the photography was complete and everyone arose, just as the photography was actually happening. It only took about 10 minutes to settle everyone back down in position and the aerial photography re-commenced. The reports spread by megaphone was that it was “all shooting good!” As the sun came back out we were all asks to wave at the helicopter so get a whole different set of shots. By 3:50 pm it was all done, the sun was out and clear blue sky.

I decided to walk around awhile to see who and what I could film. What was uplifting was the positive mood of conversation. There were no activist battle cries but people talking about harps, harpers, their symbolism and their partnership with heritage.

Then I met Triona

Laoise Kelly then called me over to meet, Triona O'Domhnaill, better known to most as the beautiful singer of the Bothy Band who was also a member of Nightnoise and Relativity with John and Phil Cunningham of Scotland, once of Silly Wizard. Of course, I momentarily froze then wobbled like jelly but Triona is an exceptionally warm person who instantly puts you at ease just like her singing voice.

Considering Triona is probably one of the most influential women Irish singers who gave the confidence to other Irish girls to sing up front Triona is a very modest and even shy lady. Laoise Kelly had brought a little steel strung Clasarch style harp, like the O’Brien (Brian Boru) harp on display in Trinity college. Triona started diddling along with Laoise’s playing and then improvised making up a song about Tara around the tune. I have it on film to share with you later. Triona’s voice is as clear, gentle and warm as it has always been. The union of Triona’s voice with Laoise’s little harp was a priceless experience …. and shared in a little quiet spot on Tara Hill near the wishing tree. 

I did meet others on my wanderings, but this report is best left with the thought of those musicians together because the ambience of their performance was very symbolic of how the afternoon’s events were. This was not an angry protest but a demonstration that will show Ireland that there is very valuable heritage here in this land and they are very peaceful places to visit and spend some time at. Do we want this taken away?

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