Embracing melancholy in song… a Celtic tradition.


We took a family trip to Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, specifically choosing to visit on the Celtic themed weekend. My family has some Irish roots and our son wanted to embrace his Gaelic heritage by donning a kilt and meandering around the fairgrounds between the booths of the craftsmen and entertainers.

Now, I’m all about the music… and old Irish tunes have always drawn me in with their minor chords and sad stories. There’s something nostalgic and haunting about those ancient melodies.. like a thing you know is familiar but you can’t quite put your finger on the memory.

As we wandered between shops, my ears picked up a female voice, deep and expressive, singing “Molly Malone”. We followed the sound to the shaded porch of a bookstore, where sat a woman garbed in yellow with a tartan scarf tucked into her belt, accompanying herself with an acoustic guitar.

We stopped to listen and when she finished the song I told her I remembered that when I was a small child, my grandmother used to play a record with that song and other old Irish tunes on it.

We talked a bit about the ballads and tunes that have been handed down through the years and are preserved in part by their popularity at Renaissance Festivals and Fairs. Apparently, a melancholy Celtic song tradition is the norm. In her words; “And like in every good Irish song… someone dies!”

Leza Mesiah, https://queennzingha.net/ otherwise known as The Moor of Dundee and The Rogue of Dundee, is a PhD Marketing Wiz, Renaissance Woman, Accomplished Song Writer, Author, People & Dog Lover. She is an entertainer through and through and and after a brief chat, invited me to join in another round of “Molly Malone” followed by “Drunken sailor”, which drew a boisterous crowd, clapping time and singing along as we made up verses on the fly.

After Liza’s observation, I did a bit of research on why Irish tunes tend to be a wee bit maudlin.

According to Quora, “The main reason why even happy Irish tunes can sound ‘sad’ to the untrained ear is that Irish music uses a large variety of modes. Irish music has some of the most beautifully haunting laments in the world. “

Should ye lords and ladies decide to travel to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, harken to the Moor of Dundee. Huzzah!





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