“Sensory Overload” by Laura Sandage

The VAE tour of Ireland was a ten-day feast for the senses.  Here are a few scraps of the riches I encountered and won’t soon forget:

–The crystalline acoustics of St Canice’s cathedral, which focused my attention and whetted my appetite for choral purity.
–The trilling Rs joyfully rolled out by the Carrigaline Singers during the song “Rrrrhythm of Life.”   I laughed with delight and recorded the ending of the song on my iphone.
–The Irish accents, thick and thin, from our charming driver’s colorful turns of phrases to the rustic farm hands at Muckross, who spoke with very thick accents while looking off in the distance at oblique angles.
–The roar of wind and rain in the trees during a delicious solo walk to the Muckross Abbey.  I liked the sound so much I tucked my rain jacket hood around my ears to let the sound in!
–The roomful of charming voices and warm applause at the Goilin Singers Club on the last night in Dublin.

–The wet, wild blackberries growing all along the paths of Muckross House.  I ate them by the handful!
–The thick, chewy brown soda bread at every meal– the best we had came with our soup at the Blarney Mills lunch stop.
–The not-too-sweet and very creamy butterscotch swirl soft ice cream at Glendalough.  Somehow, the Irish ice cream was good even in cool, wet weather.
–Sampling five varieties of cheap candy bars from the 2 Euro Store.  My teenaged daughter Vita and I both favored the Toffee Crisp.
–The burn of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.  We tried some straight up, and then quickly added ice, coke, lime, anything to tame it.  Mixing the effects with tour bus motion sickness not recommended.
–The dark, meaty taste of the black and white pudding was something I didn’t expect.  Not knowing it was a kind of sausage, I was imagining something mildly sweet or perhaps eggy like Yorkshire pudding.

–Rainbows on an almost daily basis, and a giant unicorn statue to go with them!
–Woolens of all sorts, celtic jewelry and art– I looked, touched, and admired, but never managed to buy myself anything.
–Soaring ceilings and polished brass eagles contrasted with eroded sandstone tombstones and vine-engulfed ruins.  Time and death, the great equalizers, are never out of sight nor out of mind, in spite of the richness of the country’s premier cathedrals and residences.
–Green, green, green hills, dotted with sheep and more sheep.

–The peat fires burning inside the vintage farmhouses of Muckross, where scones were cooked for us directly on the fire in iron pots.
–The green scent of evergreens and junipers in the rain.
–The musty, moist-stone-and-dust odors of the Blarney dungeons, of the inside of the Glendalough Round Tower, of the mossy chapel at the Rock of Cashel.
–The Easter lilies that trumpeted their perfume straight into the ranks of VAE during our St. Patrick’s concert in Dublin.  I missed several notes at the end of the Folksong trying not to cough with what felt like a particle of pollen lodged in my throat.  Luckily a good cough between songs had me singing again for There Will Be Rest.

–The firm flesh of young piglets patted in the Muckross petting zoo.
–The softness of wool scarves and shawls purchased by Jill, Tracia, and Jane.
–The closeness of fellow singers during cramped impromptu sings, the press of bodies during moments of pub navigation, and the embraces of tour friends upon departure– Denis, Britta, Cyd, and others.
–Ever-increasing attempts to play my African cowbell as quietly as possible in vast, resonant cathedral spaces.
–In a less tactile way, I was “touched” many times during the trip–and moved to tears by a swirling blend of exhaustion, gothic architecture, historic atrocities, warm welcomes, and most often by the beauty of our joined voices.

– Laura Sandage (soprano)


One Response to ““Sensory Overload” by Laura Sandage”

  1. Allegra Silberstein Says:

    Laura, your descriptions were great…I could be there with you…love, allegra

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