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Singing in the Rain!
VOICES XXI’s 2007 Tour of Ireland
In June, Jesse Parker, intrepid Music Director of VOICES XXI, set out with 13 singers and a gang of FFNCs (Friends, Family,
Neighbors and Coworkers) to perform in the land of 40 shades of green—Ireland! It's the rain, often soft rains, that makes this island nation so lush, green and beautiful.
This was a very different type of tour for the group. All are seasoned travelers who happily head off on their own for serious sightseeing, but this was a coach trip -- in the rain. We were together for the most part for 10 days . . . on a bus . . . in the rain . . . as we traveled from Shannon Airport to the west coast near Galway, then down toward the southeast to Kinsale, and finally up to Dublin. Happily, there were no casualties from our close quarters, thanks in large part to our driver Tony McCarthy, who also kept the group entertained with the history, stories and songs of Ireland as we traveled though the stunning countryside.
On landing, our first stop was at a re-creation of an Iron Age village – Craggenowen. Then we took a walk along the famous Cliffs of Moher, where we heard our first Irish harp being played beside the path to the Cliffs. That evening at our hotel in Ennistymon, the mayor of County Clare formally welcomed VOICES XXI to Ireland.
Two concerts of American music written or arranged in the past 100 years were presented on this tour -- the first at St. Andrew's in Ennistymon and the second at Crosshaven, near Kinsale. While singing is always the primary objective, the group managed to visit (in some form of rain) the Burren (a protected area famous for its unusual floral and fauna, and rock formations), the Dingle Peninsula, Cashel (the first religious seat of Ireland), Kilarney and Blarney Castles, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, as well as the site of the first performance of Handel’s Messiah. Ghost tours, distillery tours, Connemara marble tours, and Waterford crystal tours were also taken (often in the rain).
After a farewell gathering in Dublin, the group split up; some stayed on for more sightseeing in Dublin, others headed off to the United Kingdom, and the rest returned home—happy to see the sun again. But you know Ireland is a beautiful place when you want to go back and see it again—rain or shine!