Posted by: mdmusingsie | May 12, 2013

Dun Laoghaire by Dart

A bus, brief walk, and a DART train (Dublin Area Rapid Transit aka the commuter rail service) took me down the coast to Dun Laoghaire.

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Despite its gorgeous location along the sea and the busy ferry port to destinations far and wide (the Queen Mary 2 is supposed to dock for a day later this week), something didn’t seem quite right.

The abandoned Dun Laoghaire baths, dating back to the 18th century, gazebo turned pigeon coop, and Romanesque columned enclosures strung up with chicken wire all echoed melancholy where there should have been joy at such beautiful surroundings.  Imperialist monuments (an obelisk and fountain) seemed out of place, as if you’d suddenly found yourself spirited across the Irish Sea.

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As I sat in the Pavilion Theatre, the reason I had traveled to this location, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been projecting some of my dark mood on the place. It had been a difficult week at work; one where you question your career path, your purpose, and everything about your life. Normally, the coast lifts my spirits instead of dragging them further down. Therefore, I had high hopes for the concert I was about to experience, and, as it normally does, music worked its healing power.

No matter how many times I see Liam Ó Maonlaí perform or listen to his music on CD, I continue to marvel at the depth of this talent.

Sinking to those bass notes in a bi-lingual version of Carrickfergus or soaring many octaves higher in Christ Church Bells or John Legend’s Motherless Child, he has an enviable vocal range; not to mention a pair of lungs that must reach down to the tips of his toes, he can go so long without breathing.  Throw in the many and varied instruments he plays, the newest of which is a banjo, and the passion with which he delivers a performance, the music didn’t just enter my ears, I breathed it in to circulate in my blood, it pierced my skin and sank into muscle and bone until I was one with each note, rising with every crescendo and swaying with the same passion. If more people put as much enthusiasm into their work, think what an amazing world this could be.

What was supposed to be two 45-minute sets with a 20 minute intermission, turned into a 45 minute set, a short interval, and nearly two more hours of song after wonderful song.  Interspersed were tiny vignettes of his life, sing-a-longs, and sprinklings of humor including a piano concerto that had the audience at points smiling, giggling, and laughing out loud.

Music is not only a universal language, but a powerful healer and tonight it was delivered by one of the masters of his art.

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(Photos weren’t allowed in the theatre, and although I saw a few folks sneaking shots with their smart phones, I respected the rules, but here’s a photo from an earlier concert. You’ll have to sub the Yamaha keyboard for the Steinway grand piano he played at the theatre.)

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