By: Sean Fannon
On March 22, students in the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library took a short break from their studies to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Irish festivities happening in the newly built Speakers’ Corner. Joseph Lennon, Ph.D., director of Irish Studies, hosted the event, which featured Hugo Hamilton, Villanova’s current Heimbold Chair holder, the Philadelphia Irish Ceili Group, and the Villanova Irish Step Dancers. The event was held to commemorate the library’s recent digitization of Philadelphia Ceili Group’s musical archive. Also being celebrated were the Irish Studies Program and Irish-American Heritage Month.
To the delight of the crowd, Hamilton read poems from Irish writers such as W.B. Yeats. Hamilton decided to charm the crowd with a song sung completely in his native Irish tongue. All but his voice was lost as the seemingly melancholic words echoed throughout the library. For a second, the crowd was transported back to his home country and was made privy to the woes and laments that came from his solemn song. While the words may not have been distinguishable, the mood conveyed certainly was.
Seeing his friend and colleague take to the microphone with song, Dr. Lennon was not to be outdone as he, too, gracefully serenaded the crowd with a fun and uplifting song that he claims he, “used to sing to [his] wife.” As the air became more and more lighthearted, the dance group took to the stage to perform some traditional Irish reels and jigs, often successfully attempting to bring those in attendance on stage for a quick dance or two.
The event was certainly a great time for people of all ages as evidenced by Dr. Lennon’s son, Nicholas, as he tried to work up the courage to stand beside his father and read a poem aloud. Alas, stage fright took hold as Nicholas ran off to dance the day away with the other children in attendance.
As the event progressed, the crowd was treated to a wide variety of culturally rich songs played by the band. Many students who were trying to study or get some work done found the enticing music to tantalizing to resist. For these brief moments, mid-term studies took a backseat to Irish culture.
The crowd grew larger as the band picked up and the dancers thudded, thwomped, and stomped away to the rhythm of the music. It seemed like the library had quickly transformed into an Irish pub right before the crowd’s eyes. All that was needed to complete the fun filled day was a cold pint and a warm Irish stew.
Sean Fannon, ‘12, is a senior English major with concentrations in Writing and Rhetoric, and Irish Studies. He currently is serving as an intern in the communication office in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Sean has traveled to four different countries through Villanova’s study abroad programs and is always looking for the next place to explore. In his spare time, Sean can be found at any Philadelphia sporting event or just relaxing by the water in Ocean City, New Jersey.