The Big Sing

Caz addresses

Doesn’t a Big Sing sound like the greatest thing ever?

And that’s what it is – a group singing experience that will leave you feeling lifted, restored, and – well, just plain happy. The Big Sing is the brainchild of Caz Jeffreys, the director of the choir I belong to, AcapellaBella. Caz is amazing – she has perfect pitch, she teaches us our parts without any requirement to read music (or even be a good singer), she can give us our notes on the fly if we’re wobbling, she plays several instruments and has great rhythm.

Sopranos

She also has a philosophy about singing and community – one that emphasises inclusivity and the joy of participating in a choir. As they say in West Cork – ah sure, you know yourself, like, you can’t come away in a bad mood from an evening’s singing. Caz directs several choirs around West Cork and last year she got the idea to bring them together for a community event she called The Big Sing. It took place in Bantry as part of the Feel Good Festival. You’ll get a good idea of how that went and see an interview with Caz by watching this videoThis one, the second Big Sing, was yesterday in Clonakilty – indoors because it was too wet for the scheduled town square – and it helped to wrap up Wellness Week.

Everybody’s getting in the spirit of the Big Sing

We started with a choreographed dance from West Cork Inclusive Dance. I’ve mentioned this group before, when I wrote about the moving and excellent performance of Bridge in Ballydehob. The WCID group includes both able-bodied dancers and those with intellectual or physical disabilities.

The dance begins

The dance started in a circle, with the dancers stirred to life by a breeze – breeze music was supplied by The Happiness EnsembleOne by one they came alive until the whole circle started to move in unison. Uniting in a tight group, except for three dancers, they moved forward into the audience, as if intent on a single purpose.

Dance movement forward

The three dancers left behind sought them out.

Three dancers

Finally the whole group came together, first low on the ground and then rising up to their final triumphant stance. It was beautiful and we hooted and hollered and applauded while the dancers hugged and high-fived.

Hands raised

For the Big Sing that followed, several of Caz’s choirs had come from various communities – Ballydehob, Kinsale and Ballincollig, as well as the choirs from Dunmanway and Castletownbere with their leader, Jane Goss (another of the Big Sing project facilitators). But it wasn’t just the choirs – the dancers joined in and the audience too, and lots of people from the local community groups that Caz worked with to support their involvement in the project. It was uplifting and energising to be in such a large group with everyone singing their heart out and Caz up front encouraging us all and giving us our cues and keeping us on key and on the beat. The music for the Big Sing was provided by a drumming group from the National Learning Network.

Caz and Jane

Caz gives us our cue, with Jane Goss leading the singing from the stage

She had chosen the music well – several of the songs related to all our struggles to stay cheerful in the face of both everyday trouble and the huge challenges that face the world. It was emotional  – lots of tears by the time we’d finished Stand By Me – but ultimately inspiring and cheering.

Singing!

They LOVE to sing!We LOVE singing!

Read more about Caz and her approach to music on her website – and if you live in West Cork and love to sing, consider joining one of her choirs. There’ll be another Big Sing in October, so even if you don’t have the time for a regular commitment, you could come and learn the Big Sing songs with us before the event. Just get in touch with Caz. 

After a practice, I promise you that you’ll go home in a good mood!

Young members

Just like this little dancer!

Irish Roads

Heading towards the light

Driving the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry – it can only be done in winter.

To give you a flavour of what it’s like to drive in Ireland, I’ve put together a few of my favourite photographs of the roads we’ve travelled. Sometimes I wonder if we will get to the point where we take for granted the spectacular scenery which is such an everyday occurrence for us, but then we find ourselves pulling over once again to wonder at the wild landscape, the grandeur of the mountains, the way the sea cuts deeply into the sandstone cliffs, the old castles and ruins that dot the fields – and we know that we will never tire of Irish roads.

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I’ve chosen only photographs that have roads in them, so you can get the feel of travelling in Ireland. And yes, it does rain in Ireland and the clouds come down and cover everything and then driving isn’t as much fun. Find a pub to hole up in, wait a while, and try a prayer to St Medard

Dingle

Of course some  of you, dear readers, do this every day, like we do, so tell us your own favourite Irish roads – or share a photograph on our Roaringwater Journal Facebook page if you like.

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Obstacles are common – so don’t drive too fast along the rural roads as you never know what might be around the bend.

Tractor pace

And there’s no point in being in a big hurry…
Only room for one at a timeThere’s only room for one at a time

We do have freeways/motorways in Ireland, and tolled highways, and congested city streets with honking traffic. Our advice is to get off the highways and out of the cities as soon as possible. Get on this road, for example, that runs through the Black Valley in Kerry, and see where it takes you.

Black Valley, Kerry

Happy driving in Ireland!

By the lighthouse

Midsummer Maunderings…

Beautiful Cappaghglass

Beautiful Cappaghglass

…or Life Seen Through a Lens… Things found, places visited, mainly in the environs of West Cork, often just a few steps from Nead an Iolair, although one or two are from further afield. We have been away in Tipperary this week, so these posts are ‘ones we have prepared earlier’.

A reminder of Megaloceros - the extinct Irish Elk

A reminder of Megaloceros – the extinct Irish Elk, at Ballymaloe

curraghs

Currachs at Baltimore

Shelly Beach - our local secret

Shelly Beach – our local secret

Hugo helps himself!

Hugo helps himself!

guiness

Maestros Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly playing in Ballydehob

Maestros Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly playing in Rosie’s

An ordinary day in Ballydehob - with seanchaí Eddie Lenihan

An ordinary day in Ballydehob – with Seanchaí Eddie Lenihan

Ferdia - our garden companion

Ferdia – our garden companion

Dawn Moon over Rossbrin Castle

Dawn Moon over Rossbrin Castle

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By the way… Dictionary definition of Maunder: to move or act in a dreamy, idle or thoughtful manner. Synonyms: wander, drift, meander, amble, dawdle, potter, straggle… Finola has only ever heard the word used in Ireland.

thady's

Thady’s window on the World

March Miscellany

shovel

Another selection of Irish ‘normalities’ which have caught my English eye over the last few months (the previous selection is here). They have amused me, surprised me and sometimes baffled me. I have the greatest respect for their ‘Irishness’ – a unique outlook on life and culture from a small island which has made a big mark on the world. Mostly the images need no commentary but I have provided a little information for the curious at the end of the post.

them jobs

holy water

scrap

sprigging

ford hare

red light

shrine

luckyhouse

posterity

till he comes

walker

walking

offerings

Most of the images are from our own neighbourhood, but the spectacular wells and shrines – including the one above (to St Brigid) were seen on our trip to Clare. Can’t resist just one more image: it’s the view we enjoy every day from Nead an Iolair, constantly changing and always arresting.

panorama