I wrote this post on the 1st of September 2008. I dragged it out of the archives because it got lost but I like the message that it sent. It was written as a result of an incident that I had in Stephens green in Dublin. Looking back I was possibly naive to think that this would be acceptable but I don’t think I was wrong to try. I was due to travel to Italy shortly afterword to play music in several towns during a five day tour. I was conscious that I wasn’t practising enough but time in the evenings was tight and I couldn’t seem to play music as often as I would have liked. I find music a great way of unwinding and relaxing so I thought that if I could find a way of playing during the day it would kill two birds with one stone. It would help relieve the strains of work and it would satisfy my need to practise regularly. I picked a day that wasn’t particularly sunny so that Stephens green would be reasonably quiet and I sat in a secluded place that was slightly off the main paths. Now, of course, it should be noted that the Uilleann pipes aren’t as loud as the bag pipes however their still audible from reasonable distances so I appreciate that they could possibly be heard in areas used by members of the public who frequent the park for lunch etc. Stilll, I wouldn’t call my self a great player but I would hope to be a compitant one. I would assume the music I play is at the least unoffencive to peoples ears. Assuming I am regularly invited to play in Ireland and abroad lets say it’s not offensive anyway. After about fifteen minutes I was approached by a park attendant and I was told that I was not permitted to play here as it was in breach of health and safety and they were not covered by ensurance. Keep in mind that I was not busking. I was not intentionally attracting people to the area that I was in although a number of people sat near by when I started playing that wasn’t my intention. I was playing for my own pleasure and I assumed that would be acceptable in a public park. Thinking back on it three years later I’m still angry. There are people busking without proper permits on Grafton street that can hardly play an instrument. There are people begging and annoying people on almost every street in Dublin city centre. All I wanted to do is play for a half an hour in a public park without collecting money, without the aim of entertaining others. I simply wanted to make use of time that is ordinarily wasted during my day with something that I enjoy doing.
Anyway, lets get to the post.
I’m reminded of the song from Christy Moore, a well known Irish singer that tells the story of travellers being viciously pushed from their homes years ago. Go Move Shift. You’re not welcome here. Regular themes that are all too common today still.
I also thought that gone were the days of oppression in this country where freedom to express our native song was prohibited.
Ok, Oppression in my experience today is way too harsh a description however the refusal to allow self expression in one of our nation’s public parks is just as equally negative.
Without wanting to dramatise it, The Irish traditions are dying. Their certainly not as popular in this country as they once were. It therefore stands to reason that you’d want to encourage them. . That doesn’t seem to be the case though. People today are too afraid of breeching copyright to just relax and consider music how it should be. Not a commodity to be exploited but an art to be expressed and enjoyed.
I suppose, I was too blindly optimistic and naive to consider that the performance of an Irish instrument in public with only personal enjoyment as the benefit would be permitted in this, our allegedly proud country.
Question: What does it mean to be proud to be Irish? Do you know? How can you be Irish and proud of it if you don’t embrace the Irish traditions?
People talk about the Irish identity. I don’t know what that is. Do you? Other countries have in the past seen us as a kind, happy and artistic culture.
Look on public transport. Do people seem Kind? When a pregnant woman stands with a clear expression of pain and discomfort on her face and not alone will people not give her a seat but they actually give out to her for being in the way can that even be considered humane?
Look at the many traditional festivals that take place in this country. They have escalated into what are now recognised as huge drinking sessions. The art they represent is only a distant second in the minds of the people who go with the sole purpose of drinking.