My Valentine Plays The Upright Bass and How An Irish Wake Turned Into A Wedding!

All photos by Carolyn from Bluegrass Band Tour of Ireland in 2008

If you happen to be a musician (or married to one) then you know that music is your life blood. You just have to play...or sing...or dance your song! In other words, music is your heart beat.

My husband plays many instruments, but my favorite is the upright bass. That's the instrument that is the heart beat of the band.

A few years ago we were fortunate to be able to tour with one of my husband Glenn's bands, when they played at a Bluegrass Festival in Ireland. 

Packing a six man band into a small touring van was always interesting, but Glenn had the knack! When you play the upright bass, you get plenty of practice packing that giant instrument into tight spaces.

The audiences in Ireland were absolutely the most endearing we've ever met! Folks would come up after the concert and tell us the music made them cry...that is struck cords in the heart! 

And, Ireland does know how to take care of their musicians! At every stop on the ten day tour, the band (and their wives) had a lovely stay in gorgeous bed-and-breakfasts located near each night's gig. That was all part of the generous compensation set up by the Ireland tour agent, who happened to be an old friend of the band!

We did spend a lot of time on the road, but no one really minded at all!

Second to the fabulous hospitality of the fans, the venues where the band performed were exquisite. Very romantic!
Many of them were reconverted churches with great acoustics.

But, the highlight of the trip for me was the evening the fans in county Kildare invited us to the local pub after the band's performance that evening. 

Actually, every musician in the tiny Irish village was waiting for us when we arrived at the pub. It was their turn to perform for us! And, their traditional Irish music was excellent! Talk about heart-felt...

John, the storyteller sang a twenty-five minute long Irish ballad about the love story between a young girl from the "other-world" and how "a wake turned into a wedding!"

The traditional story of the ballad goes something like this.


"There was a farmer who was having a chimney built in his cottage and, in Ireland, each chimney has a secret compartment where the homeowner places a most valued possession. This farmer had no valued possession and had told the chimney builder to fill in the compartment. The chimney builder made plans to fill in the compartment the next day. Each evening, the farmer took a walk along the border of his property after he was done with his work. On this particular evening, the farmer found a fantastic golden ball amid the flowers at his feet. He knew that this was a lucky find, and quickly carried it back home and placed it carefully in the chimney compartment. The next day, the builder came and finished the fireplace and closed up the secret compartment that held the beautiful golden ball.
In the 'other world' the elders spend their days playing the Irish ball game called, HURLING. The younger people of the 'other world' are assigned places on the edge of this 'other world' so that they can catch any hurling balls that might roll across the border to the 'physical world.' The hurling balls in the other world are made of gold and have to be guarded!
A young woman was gathering flowers, instead of watching for hurling balls, and that is when one of the golden balls rolled across the border to the 'physical world.'  
The elders were very angry with the girl and ordered her to go into the physical world, find the lost ball, and bring it back to the 'other world.'  They gave the girl 30 days to find the ball and bring it back.
So, the young woman from the 'other world' ventured into the 'physical world' to find the lost golden hurling ball. 
On this evening, the farmer was taking his evening walk and discovered a young woman walking along the road. He didn't recognize her and asked what she was doing. She answered that she was from a nearby village and had come this way to look for work. The farmer had a kind heart and offered the young woman a job as his housekeeper and she gladly accepted his offer. The farmer offered her a room in his cottage and so they walked quickly back to the cottage and prepared the young woman's room.
As the days went by, the farmer was very happy with the young woman's work and he also grew to love her cooking, too. Secretly, he grew to love the young woman herself! But, he did think she was a bit odd, as he would often find her walking along the perimeter of his property looking as if she were frantically searching for something.
The farmer and the young woman spent their days working on the farm and in the cottage and all went well. However, the farmer began to notice that the young woman was losing weight and growing pale. In fact, the young woman lost more and more of her gusto for life and the farmer became concerned for the girl. After just a short month of the young woman's stay at the farm, she became gravely ill. The farmer called for the doctor and the doctor said there was nothing he could do...that the young woman was dying. And, sure enough, the young woman died the next day. 
The farmer's heart was broken and he cried bitterly over the young woman as her body was laid out on his kitchen table ready for the Wake. His tears fell upon her pale face.
One by one, the people of the village gathered at the farmer's cottage to view the body of the young woman and to cry at her Wake. All of a sudden there was a knock at the cottage door, and a tall, dark figure entered the room. No one had ever seen this stranger before. He walked straight over to the woman's side, bent over her body, and shouted: 'Well girl, did you find the hurling ball yet? Your thirty days are up!'
At this point, the young woman sat straight up, looked at the stranger, and replied, 'I have not.' To this, the stranger answered, 'Well then, back to the 'other world' with you and you will be scrubbing the floors for many days after this!'
It was then, that the farmer realized that the stranger was enquiring about the golden ball that was hidden in the farmer's secret compartment of his newly completed fireplace. Quickly he retrieved the golden ball from its secret compartment, carried it to the stranger, and asked,  'Is this what you are looking for?'  The young woman wept with joy and the stranger quickly answered 'yes,' to the farmer as the golden hurling ball was carefully placed in the stranger's hand.
It was then that the stranger stretched out his hand to the young woman and said, 'It's time to go back.'  But, the farmer cried out. 'Wait,' he said to the stranger. 'I was the one who found the golden hurling ball. And, I want something in return."
The Stranger stopped, turned and stared at the farmer. 'What is it you wish to have in return for the ball?' Of course, the farmer asked for the young woman's hand in marriage. The young woman looked into the eyes of the farmer and her heart melted with love. And, the stranger saw their love and said, 'Here, you can stay, girl. You haven't been of any good in the other world anyway!'
And, that is how an Irish Wake turned into a wedding!" 

I guess I have the luck of the Irish, with my valentine who plays the upright bass!

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