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Saturday, September 29, 2012

FINDING MEANING IN DUBLIN


Finding Meaning in Dublin

by Kenneth Weene

 

As a student at an all male boarding school, I wanted as much contact with girls as I could get. One of the few social opportunities that my alma mater offered was the glee club. So for three years I tried out. Each year was the same. Art Sager, the music director, would ask me to sing Sweet Molly Malone. Then he would hit a note on the Steinway that dominated the great room in which the auditions were held.

I would start: “In Dublin’s fair city, where—.”

“No,” Mr. Sager would interrupt. “No, no, no!” His bass voice would grow louder. The wattles of his neck would shake with his intensity. “Start again, Weene,” he would command and again sound that starting note.

Another attempt and then a preemptory, “Next.”

Three years. Of course I had known from the first that I would never make the cut. After all, my music teacher in junior high had promised me an A if I just didn’t sing—not an A for participating but for keeping silent. Still, the dances held after each concert beckoned. In desperation I sang that song over and over in my head. Oh, I so wanted to hit the right notes. I never did, but the words lingered.

No wonder that many years later, when I first visited Dublin, I had wanted to see fishmongers in the streets, and I had wanted to sing that song:

Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

"Alive, alive, oh,

Alive, alive, oh",

Crying "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh".

My wife and I were admiring the Georgian doorways in FitzWilliam Square when I started to sing. To my horror, she didn’t laugh; she didn’t say something witty; she just said, “Stop.”

Crushed, I did. One of my dreams of Ireland down in flames.

I had another dream for our time in Dublin, going to the Abbey Theatre. What lover of literature could resist that pilgrimage?

I only prayed that a play would be on the boards. There was. It was a play about Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe. Kolbe, a Polish priest, gave refuge to many Jews during World War II. Arrested, he was eventually sent to Auschwitz. One day the guards were picking people to be killed—it was a regular event, a way of keeping the inmates cowed. They picked one man. The man pled for his life; he had a family and wanted so desperately to stay alive. Kolbe tried to intervene. He was offered the choice of taking that man’s place. Kolbe did. He did so even though he knew that it was a pointless gesture—that it was unlikely the man would survive for long. Still Kolbe did it.

We were quiet riding back to our hotel. I don’t know about my wife, but I tossed and turned that night. Early in the morning, unable to shake the magnificence of Kolbe’s actions from my mind, I took a walk.

Wandering for a while, I eventually came to the Hapenny Bridge. Halfway across the Liffey, I stopped to watch the river flow beneath. Suddenly, I knew that I had to. I sang that song.

Now her ghost wheels her barrow,

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

It is not so much that we do things well. It is certainly not that our actions will change the world. But still must we not—each in our own times and ways, no matter how great or small—no matter how meaningless the action might be—bear witness to who we are?

Bio

Life itches and torments Kenneth Weene like pesky flies. Annoyed, he picks up a pile of paper to slap at the buzzing and often whacks himself on the head. Each whack is another story. At least having half-blinded himself, he has learned to not wave the pencil.

A New Englander by upbringing and inclination, Ken is a teacher, psychologist and pastoral counselor by education. He is a writer by passion.

You can sample Ken’s writing and check out his novels at http://www.kennethweene.com

Those novels are available in print, Kindle, and Nook. Ken’s Amazon page is http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=books&field-author=Kenneth%20Weene


A very special thank you to Ken Weene for his contribution and fine story.  I hope he certainly comes again with one of his creative memories.



Many Blessings and Happy Traveling!
 

Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins



 

 

 

 

20 comments:

  1. Ken, what a delightful interview. I sang "Sweet Molly Malone" to my kids and grandchildren--being children they were less critical of my lack of singing on tune. Until they hit their teens! I enjoyed every word of this--thanks for visiting Rosemary and sharing this tidbit with all of us.

    Micki

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    1. Hi Micki,
      Thank you for visiting and I am so happy you enjoyed Ken as much as I have. It was fun to read yet another's take on Dublin!
      We will be back Monday late and back on schedule, though a bit behind.

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  2. Another great story Ken! What singing ability you may have lacked you certainly made it up with writing talent.

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    1. Hi Anna,
      I cannot believe that with the way Ken writes, he could ever sing less than perfect. Thank you so much for visiting. I do hope you will come again and enjoy our journey through Ireland.
      Thanks Again!

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  3. Thanks for the kind words. Now I shall sing to my dog. Luckily, this one is stuffed so he won't howl along with me.

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    1. Your lucky dog! Stuffed or otherwise, I am sure he or she will think they are in doggie heaven!

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  4. Ken, What a wonderful story. I thoroughly enjoyed every word and visualized the places you describe. Great writing!!

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    1. Hi Cynthia,
      Thank you for stopping by and so happy you have enjoyed part of this wonderful journey to Ireland. In Ken's case, about Dublin. I do hope you will enjoy returning to travel with us to other parts of this wonderful vacation destination. Have a great weekend.

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  5. Love your story, Ken! As a student at a girls' boarding school for three years, I found a way to meet male students through our local horse shows. Needless to say, riding became my favorite extracurricular activity! Rosemary and Ken, I so enjoy your sharing your journeys through Ireland with us!

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    1. Sandra, Thank you so much for your continued support and sharing your own memories. Our memories are such a special part of lives and one thing that is truly our own. Sharing is perhaps one of the best ways to communicate and allows us to relive happy places in our hearts!

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  6. This is a great story, Rosemary and Ken. I can appreciate getting to know Ken more through his latest writings.

    Both of you have rich adventures from Ireland, and it is such fun reading about it.

    I must say that I don't care for teachers like Mr. Sager, however.

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    1. Cherrye, I agree. The Mr. Sagers of this world should cease to be teachers. It is disheartening to say the least. I am sure that all voices are not stars but they cannot develop without help!
      Thanks for your comments and I hope you will consider Ireland 2013 tour with us!

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  7. Although I always enjoy your posts Rosemary, it was fun to see a guest post too. Ken has a wonderful voice -- in his writing, if not in his singing! Thank you for both for giving me a smile today.

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    1. Hi Sandy,
      Rosemary ask me to respond today as she is having a problem with her eyes. She wanted me to tell you how grateful she is you stopped in and enjoyed something different. We both have enjoyed Ken's writing and he has added a flair here as well.
      Thank you again.

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  8. Art Sager must have felt guilty, in my senior year he insisted that I come as a "manager" to one of the joint concerts and dances, but that is another story perhaps to be shared on another day. Meanwhile, I shall simply rue the absence of horses at our school.

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    1. Hello Ken,
      I am filling in for Rosemary which I never do but we saw a few comments here that were not meant to be ignored. She had an accident with her eyes yesterday but wanted to tell you how happy she was you helped out with this post and she with all of us enjoyed it so much.
      It is also hoped you will return again as a guest and visitor.
      Thank you,
      Doug
      BTW: we love your book Widows Walk

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  9. I loved the post! I would have done the same thing on the bridge. Who would ever remember me? And if someone in the boat below threw something, well, what goes up... Thanks to both of you for a fun break in my day! God bless!

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    1. Hello Deirdre,
      This is Doug replying for Rosemary while she cannot see well enough from her eye injury to repl. Thank you for visiting her post that Ken was kind enough to write. He does have a way with words and we are so happy you enjoyed it. Please come again and take another break. I believe she wants to follow Ken's lead with Molly Malone and give you a taste of what she has written about Molly Malone in her own myth version!
      Have a great day.

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  10. Wonderfully entertaining post, Ken!

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    1. Greetings Martha,
      Rosemary ask me to reply for her due to her eye injury last night. Sorry for this delay but we were away for several days to return with more to do than time! We so appreciate you coming to visit and she says she has enjoyed her communications with you lately missing it while you were away. As always, thank you for visiting.
      Doug and Rosemary

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