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Saturday, January 11, 2014

"What song do I sing?"

by Armando Davila

While the engagements in Derry begin to take on a story of their own, the people we have met have begun to take an interest in what we are here to do - to learn this new culture and understand the troubles these people have endured for many years. It has been a captivating journey to listen to the stories of how each member of this community has been affected by the troubles, whether is has been directly or indirectly, and how they wish for a unified country that shares similar freedoms as we do in America.

Most of the stories I have heard during our first week here have been based around an older generation that lived through the last 4+ decades of the trials and tribulations. This very same generation has invested a great deal of physical and psychological hardships that have been passed down through storytelling to the newer generation. Although many individuals of the newer generation have not experienced the direct exposure of the troubles, they have to deal with the aftermath that still resonates with the people in Northern Ireland.

A traditional band playing at Peadar O'Donnells.
On a more positive note, one thing that the people of Northern Ireland all have in common, is the love of music. Almost anywhere you go in Derry, whether it is the mall, a restaurant, in a cab, on a tour bus, or in a pub, you will always find the people here listening or playing music. The variety of music is very similar to what you would find back in the states. In fact, they play a lot popular music from the states from all generations and all genres. However, the music played by musicians in the pubs are the exception to the culture: Irish folk music permeates the air and brings people in the pub together.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting a band comprised of two musicians from a small town between Derry and Belfast. As I engaged in dialogue with one of the musicians, a member of the younger generation, I couldn't help but to notice how they expressed their frustrations with the older generation. "I wish they would just let it go and move on. My parents are those who still hold hatred in their hearts and will not talk to members of the opposite religion. I don't understand because I don't have any problem talking to anyone. I just want to play music and make people happy."

Younger generation dancing at a more modern-day pub.
It was very interesting to sit and listen to the passion of this one musician, but I couldn't help to notice what their one main concern was - "What song do I sing?" This was a member of a younger generation that didn't carry the hatred passed down to them from their parents and grandparents, but rather viewed themselves as a healer looking to bring people of their culture together through the joy and passions of one commonality, music.

Here is a video taken of the band in the first picture.

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