Irish Cultural Treasure
A Statue of O’Carolan, in Nobber, Co Meath, Ireland
There is an Irish Cultural Treasure that is little known. We know quite a bit about St. Patrick, but not much about Turlough O’Carolan, or why there is a statue of O’Carolan in Nobber, Ireland. St. Patrick was a real person, but not an Irishman, born around 400 A.D. in Britain. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved for 17 years. He escaped to his home in Britain and later returned to Ireland as a missionary. The rest is history; and we celebrate his day each year. But what about O’Carolan.
It is unfortunate there is no Turlough O’Carolan day to celebrate, because he truly is an Irish Cultural Treasure. He was also a “real” Irishman, (1670-1738) and is the most beloved musician of Ireland. He was the last of the Irish bards (poets), and is often referred to as “A Celtic Treasure,” which makes him even more of an Irish Cultural Treasure. He wrote beautiful harp music, which every notable Celtic musician plays. O’Carolan’s tunes are versatile; and they work well with several instruments besides the harp.
At age 18 O’Carolan came down with Smallpox, which blinded him. He was an educated man struck down by fate, but never gave up learning. The only music the blind could play at that time was on the harp; so he studied for three years and became an accomplished harpist. He roamed the Irish countryside on a horse and was welcomed by both the rich and the poor.
He wrote a song, “O Whiskey, Heart of My Soul,” which was a tribute to Irish music, poetry and the last of the great Irish bards. A less rowdy composition relieves stress without the whiskey! Listen to his beautiful and original score of “Farewell to Music.” Be sure to turn on the sound; and you will understand why O’Carolan is truly an Irish Cultural Treasure.