Roving Irish Musician Takes Group Back In Time
All pictures compliments of Bruce Karder!
The craic was mighty in Romeoville, Illinois, when people "went back in time" and gathered to hear a traveling Cork man share his music. Máirtín de Cógáin was booked to entertain at Gaelic Park's Irish Fest Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. Then he had a creative brainstorm, and floated an idea to anyone who wanted to host an "Irish Music House Concert" Saturday night, May 26.
Carolyn Jonasen (CJ), a Lake Park High School teacher, accepted the challenge. That meant in addition to giving and grading final exams, processing report cards and wrapping up her school year, she prepared her house for one of its biggest gatherings ever, and spread the word to invite people to the area's first House Concert.
It came to be that Máirtín, who has re-located to Rochester, Minnesota, drove up to CJ's house just in time for a hearty pot luck. He introduced his wife Mitra, who set chocolate goodies on the table. Dianne Reddington of Arlington Heights, IL, said, "Mitra is charming, has adorable dimples and understands the need for chocolate. Indeed she is a Renaissance Woman."
After the meal, all were invited to gather on the back deck. It was a diverse group that included 8-year-old twins Kyrie and Rose O'Mahoney, Sister Julie Stapleton from Loretto Convent, and a visitor from Washington state, Sheila Herron.
As the sun began to set, Máirtín sang, told stories of charm, laughter, Irish history, movies or economy and some stories covered all of these topics and more. He played the bodhrán and described the map of Ireland as a teddy bear lying on its side. After that, he explained the birthplace of each song as coming from "..just behind the bear's calf." or "… from the top of the bear's right paw."
The weather was perfection, and as the sun slipped out of sight, a silver sliver of a baby moon rose. String lights started to sparkle and candles appeared giving CJ's deck a look of fairy folk visiting.
At our table, before the music started we discussed that on an Irish Festival Cruise, Paddy Reilly was overheard raving about Máirtín and predicting "That kid is going to the top in the Irish music world. Just you watch." As the evening rolled on, we all agreed that years from now, we will remember this night and that "We knew him when…"
While the light dimmed, Kathleen Bremer from Carol Stream brought out her flute and played a few numbers including a fast reel as de Cógáin brought a roar from the crowd when he jumped into the wickedly wild Broom Dance.
When the evening wound to a close, Mary Evers, of Orland Park, said, "A few years ago the last of the seanchais I knew in Dingle passed away. Never did I dream the evenings my friends and I spent with him would be
recreated. Then I met Máirtín." Everyone agreed it was an extraordinary night. And the general feeling was that no one will ever forget this glorious evening of going back in time when Máirtín de Cógáin brought his music to Illinois and the craic was mighty in Romeoville.