2020: The year so many amazing things were to happen. They didn’t. But, for me; one event did. In the midst of worldwide lockdowns, I received notification I was granted a Fulbright Award to study for an MA in Irish Traditional Music at Maynooth University in Ireland.
Every American who plays Irish Traditional Music dreams of the gift of living in Ireland: Taking part in late night music sessions, learning new tunes, and making new friends through the music. As a professional harpist who lives and breathes Irish music, I dreamed that dream for many years. Little did I know that it would come to be in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
Armed with suitcase, harp, fiddle, and an abundant mask collection, I moved to Ireland last summer. Moving to a new country is complicated under the best of circumstances, but throw in a new normal of self-isolation, social distancing, and online learning, everything became arduously complicated. Life in Ireland looked little like I envisioned.
Yet, in spite of such unforeseen complications, many beautiful things have transpired during my short time living in Ireland: I’ve learned so many new things through my degree program despite the less than ideal learning environments and hours of isolation within my tiny campus apartment. I’ve developed friendships with others in my program and renewed friendships I already had in Ireland, which are “virtual” friendships for the time being. Out of the blue, I had the fantastic opportunity to partner with Enjoy the Mournes in County Down to create three Christmas carol music videos.
I hope that these videos, filmed during these crazy Covid days we are all experiencing bring a moment of joy, peace, and hope to your hearts this Christmas season.