A friend said to me the other day that it won’t be until this pandemic has passed that we realise how difficult a time it has been. Right now we all have our heads down, doing our best to do the right thing and get through it, but when it is over and we come up for air, we will reflect on a really hard few months/years/whatever it turns out to be.
She may well be right. I guess we won’t know for a while. But I was surprised today at the depth of emotion I felt when guitarist Ed Mullarkey joined in with Sinéad Conway and I during the penultimate song of a particularly engaging funeral ceremony.
Ed is a great friend of one of the sons of the deceased lady. He was due to play for the last song and came over to where we were a little bit early in order to get ready to do so. We started into Raglan Road, and as the second verse began, I started to hear the sweetest guitar licks filling in between Sinéad’s vocal lines. And my heart began to swell.
Now this was happening at a particularly emotional part of a ceremony you just couldn’t help be drawn into, so I’m sure this had something to do with it, but it was also the feeling of rediscovering something you had been missing. Something you possibly didn’t realise you were missing as much as you were.
Playing with others. Collaborating. People coming together and producing something bigger than the sum of its parts.
And so it seemed appropriate when I came out of the church and saw a message from Ocean FM’s Niall Delaney to say that their broadcast of Theme Night #26 was today nominated for an IMRO national radio award in the category of Best Irish Music programme or initiative. We won a similar award for the broadcast of Theme Night #15 in 2016.
That radio broadcast was an innovative collaboration between Ocean FM, the Theme Nights and all the wonderful musicians who take part, designed to bring some joy and music into the lives of people who were cocooning in their homes and possibly couldn’t get online. People doing their best to keep going through a tough time.
Just like the family were today. But as always, it will be community, collaboration and probably a fair amount of music that will help them, and us all get through it.