I was reminded of the pain many Irish Families have suffered and still suffer as a result of one of them leaving home to live abroad when I listened to a lady sing to her great grandchild.
The Irish people are known for their storytelling, music, dance and songs. River dance and the band U2 are know throughout the world. There are many people of Irish descent that live far away from their homeland, in Australia, Canada or United States. They keep their heritage alive by singing songs they knew before they left home.
I was watching a recording of a Canadian great-grandmother sing to her great-grandson an old Irish Ballad, called The Star of the County Down on the internet. Here are some of the words.
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning in July
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed me by.
She looked so sweet from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair
Such a coaxing elf, I’d to shake myself
To make sure I was standing there.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid I’ve seen like the sweet colleen
That I met in the County Down.
I live near Banbridge in Co Down Ireland. I am touched that somewhere in Canada is a lady who stills remembers her homeland she left as a young woman. She is keeping alive her identity. She is now telling her great grandson about Ireland in song. She is sharing with her great grandson something about her past in song. Perhaps she identifies with that young strong lassie from Banbridge in the Co Down with the nut brown hair. Now her hair is grey and her body is frail. Outwardly she is wasting away but inwardly she is that young “Star of the Co Down.” Some day that little child will ask his mummy “Where is Co Down that my Nanna used to sing about.”
She will tell the story of how Nanna left Ireland to live in a new country and all the adventures that followed, good and bad. When he grows up he will want to visit that place, about which his Nanna sang.
I have met many young people who have come to Ireland to return to the town or district where their forefathers lived. It is a holy moment for them. All sorts of emotions arise. They try to imagine the relative leaving home and family never to return.
Were their hearts breaking?