Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | St. Patrick's Day 2021 Edition

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! It wouldn't be the Feast of St. Patrick without some poetry, music, and a few prayers.

1. Beautiful message from Ireland’s President-mystic Michael Higgins

I love him. He’s my favorite. I want to scoop him up and keep him in my coat pocket. Listen to the lovely man’s particularly poignant message to the world on the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick/Padraig.

“When in so many places, in so many different circumstances, voices of invocation by Irish people sing out on Saint Patrick’s Day, they are placing their invocation alongside the invocations and prayers of migrant communities everywhere who have, over generations, sought to collectively transcend present circumstances.  

“The messenger, of that invocation to a power beyond the self, to a spirit that informed nature, was, for us Irish, Saint Patrick, a migrant carrying to us the message of another compassionate migrant which could be placed, with respect, alongside other sources of the spirit. 

“All sources of transcendence and the spirit beyond the misery of the self are important. Our Patron Patrick saw the necessity of placing his message alongside respect for nature, with its right and promise of renewal that was there in indigenous forms of spirituality. 

“On Saint Patrick’s Day 2021, we have been reminded of our shared vulnerability, our interdependence, the need for an understanding that can fly past borders. In the message we have received from COVID, surely there is the undeniable insight that we must all, and together, exit the fog of not only the pandemic but all of the hubris, the arrogance, the vanities of assuming the right to dominate, to impose, to exclude; strategies of life which have left us such a legacy of lost communality and a planet in danger.”

Read the full text of President Higgins’ speech HERE.


2. Clannad releases new live version of In a Lifetime (my favorite song)

The song Donegal’s Clannad released in 1986 featured Bono in duet with Moya Brennan. It’s been my favorite song—full stop—since I first heard it as a freshman in college in 1988. Today, the band released a gorgeous, new live version with Denise Chaila singing Bono’s bit.

Denise Chaila is a Zambian-Irish singer-rapper-poet from Limerick. The Guardian calls her “one to watch.” I believe them.


3. For 48 hours only, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle on YouTube

What’s the one U2 gig I wish I could have attended but didn’t? The September 1, 2001 concert at Slane Castle. Happily, they filmed it and for St. Patrick’s Day 2021 have released a remastered version, free, until Friday. Get on it quicklike.

The concert they filmed was the second of two the band played at the end of the European leg of their Elevation world tour, and was recorded a week after the funeral for Bono’s father, Bob Hewson, to whom he dedicates the song “Kite.”

Who's to say where the wind will take you
Who's to know what it is will break you
I don't know which way the wind will blow
Who's to know when the time has come around
Don't wanna see you cry
I know that this is not goodbye


4. Wolfwalkers’ Blessing for St. Patrick’s Day

Cartoon Saloon, the Irish makers of the Oscar-nominated animated feature film Wolfwalkers (which, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should as it’s glorious), released a special video today for St. Patrick’s Day, that unpacked some of the Wolfwalker lore and Naomh Padraig’s connection to how the mythic tribe came to be.

Wolfwalkers is the third installment in the trilogy of Irish mythic animated films from Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, including The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea.

Watch Wolfwalkers on Apple TV + HERE.


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5. Young Los Angeles poets respond to Seamus Heaney for SPD

In collaboration with Get Lit, the Los Angeles organization that teaches high school students “classic” poetry and then encourages them to write their own poems in response to the poetry that resonates with them, the Irish Consulate released three poems by three young poets reading their original poems inspired by the works of Seamus Heaney.

Jovana’s poem was her response to Heaney’s “Chorus” from The Cure at Troy, which says in part:

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

James’ poem “On Friday Evenings” is his response to Heaney’s “Postscript”:

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

UPDATE: The third video, of Salome responding to Heaney’s “Scaffolding,” has not yet posted to YouTube. When it does, I will include it below.


7. Malcolm Guite invites us into his study to celebrate all things Irish

Meet the poet’s Irish greyhound rescue dog, George, and his Peterson’s pipe, while he enjoys a drop of Jameson’s, a bit of the Book of Kells, and reads his sonnet for St. Patrick.

Malcolm’s sonnet, “St. Patrick” can be found on his website HERE, where you can also listen to the audio of his reading.


8. Catherine O’Connell’s “I Arise Today” from St. Patrick’s Breastplate

One of my fondest St. Patrick’s Day memories is from the annual Siamsa na nGael concert in Chicago, maybe 15 or so years ago, that I attended with my husband and my parents, Muzz and Helen, both of whom have since passed into The More. I remember sitting in the great orchestra seats Father John Cusick had gifted us with, listening to the incomparable Celtic Diva, Catherine O’Connell, sing the words that come from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, all four of us with tears running down our faces.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.


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