St Patrick’s Day, which will be celebrated on March 17, is an annual event that celebrates the Irish heritage and culture. This year, the Irish Embassy and Irish Honorary Consuls have decided to celebrate the day with pomp and gaiety. They will be holding events in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata.
This year, in Chennai, a performance by the globally renowned Irish musician Niamh Ni Charra and her band will be one of the events to look forward to. Ahead of her performance in the city on March 18, she talks to us about Irish music and more.
“The region I come from (Killarney, in the south west of Ireland) is well known for its particular style. It is all about dance and music. I have grown up playing for dances at house parties. Like all indigenous music, Irish traditional music and song are about passing on the tradition and linking the present to the history and the people of the past. I find that really inspirational,” she says.
Talking about the celebrations in India, she explains, “I always point out to people that St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world. This is my very first time in India — a country I have always been fascinated with, and have a deep affinity towards. For me, to be here sharing our culture on our national holiday is very special. We have so much in common.”
The musician is unhappy that the Indian trip is quite short. “I really want to come back again and spend a lot of time travelling around all the different regions, and hear different styles of music. I think one of the first musicians I came across was Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka, but this was from listening to tapes, and more recently seeing videos on YouTube. So, definitely I need to come back and explore!”
One of the Irish expats from the city, Aine Edwards comments, “It’s the first St Patrick’s Day event for the public, with Irish traditional music in India. Now there are Irish themed pubs in the country to give a platform for music groups from Ireland to play at. All thanks to Culture Ireland for flying the artists to India for such concerts.”
Aine, who has facilitated cultural exchange through music between Irish and Indian musicians, feels that there is a great respect and eagerness from both sides to learn and communicate through music — “Martin Hayes, one of Ireland’s living legends of traditional music, has toured four Indian cities and met and played with musicians from both North and South India. Irish musicians are welcomed in wholeheartedly in India.”
She also confirms that there is a deep connection between Indian and Irish cultures — be it the language, music and identity. “Like Indians, we too are proud of our heritage. Both countries have been suppressed under the British rule. Irish women like Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita were activists of the Home Rule. They dedicated their lives to the Indian Republican movement. I feel the south Indians especially, and the Irish get along very well — they have similar sense of hospitality and humour!”
(Niamh Ni Charra and her band will be performing at The Moon & Sixpence on March 18)...