Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Big Bang of Inspiration

Three years ago last month, I had retired, was trying to find myself's future and took my family on a cross country, 7-month long road trip across the United States. While we were in Las Vegas for Nelson Stewart's (of the Rogues) wedding, we discovered we were pregnant for the second time and through the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite and the amazingly surfable California Coast we prepared for the coming of our Katrina Hope. Then, while we were hiking on the Columbia River, Heather began spotting and later that day, our dreams ended - Katrina finding her way out into the world long before she was able to live in it.

Devastated, holding her in our palms, we knew our gypsy roaming had come to an end, though a long journey still remained between the Oregon Coast and our home in Maryland. We began pushing hard to get home, carrying our Katrina with us, stopping as seldom as possible. Then, as we were passing through Butte, Montana, a need for coffee and a different view took control and steered us off the interstate.

We made our way through the town looking for a coffee shop and instead found Cavenaugh's County Celtic Shop and decided to pop in for a look about. There, among the tartans, t-shirts, wedding ensemble and knick-knacks of green, we found a delightful woman who distracted Liam and talked with love of Celtic music for two hours while we strolled through the shop. As we were getting ready to leave, she offered us two CDs to lift our spirits on the way - Kíla's Gambler's Ballet and Tog E Go Bog E. As we got in the car, back to our heavy hearts we put in Gambler's Ballet and as the first strains of "Leath ina Dhiaidh a hOcht" began to roll off of Ronan O'Snodaigh's tongue, we were transfixed. We found something better than the burden we had been carrying.

There are times when joy enters your life, but you can't realize it. Walking past a beautiful bloom, hearing a lovely laugh, feeling a friendly touch - but when it seems all joy is gone, perhaps it just shines too brightly not to be noticed. In that moment, the incredible fluidity of the music wrapped around us and shone like a beacon home. I opened the cover and read the liner notes as we went down the road. How appropriate that the first tune is about wandering about the home after a great jubilation. On the next few days of riding mile after mile Gambler's Ballet played over and over. It had struck a chord within us - we found the joy that comes with birth and life. Our second child would not be nothing but mournfulness. In the years to come I painted pictures of what she would have been  - how she would be in my heart. Much like the lyrics in "Leath ina Dhaidh ..." we woke up from the party, and found substance in the ashes. We so looked forward to her birth, and despite her death we found a way to keep that moment of elation in her moment of existence. For a moment we held her in the palm of our hands. We woke up after the party of expectations before her birth, and found memories of her life to come in the ashes that remained.

Kíla became an integral part of our existence after that ride. Today, our third child, Norá Iascí sleeps to "Soisin" every night and "Gambler's Ballet" is our 'reset button' - a help over a bad encounter, the sound of the beginning of a new journey. Since then we've added the rest of their discography to our collection, including Colm O'Snodaigh's "Givings" which contains my favorite song "Is Tú Mó Ghra." Ronan's "Garden Wars" sits always on my desk as an inspiration to my art and Liam forever wants to hear the soundtrack to "The Secret of Kells."

Per chance, per luck, per divine intervention, Kíla came into our lives and are inexplicably irremovable from it. We share their sounds everywhere we go and rarely do I sit down at my illustration desk without the chance of feeling their melodies surround me. I second Bono's thoughts that "Somehow you get the feeling Kíla lit the fuse for the big bang,” and there in that explosion of energy I find the inspiration to create my own works of joy.

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