If the theory of DNA Memory is true, that we genetically carry the footprints of our ancestors, shadows of their cultures, then there are sub-conscious rumblings in my soul and echoes of flutes and drums in my veins that connect me to Ireland . I close my eyes and see green hills and Maureen O’Hara.
No? I don’t believe the DNA thing either. It just sounded good. According to Ancestry.com my European heritage is all of Europe. Lines weave backward through myriad shire and kingdom finding root through Troy to Goshen back to Abraham himself.
Yet, I feel so much more Irish than say, Prussian or Italian. That could have something to do with growing up with the surname of Murphy and listening to Dad talking about his Murphy line, who was the immigrant, etc. Mom also spoke of her Dutch line of sailors. I just wasn’t that fascinated. Sorry, Mom. But, aye now, the Irish, the twinkling eyes, the roguish smiles, the castles, the green shutters and stone fences, the dancing and drums … much more fun than say, wooden shoes.
We’re watching the Best of Riverdance. When I emerged from the Celtic store in Gatlinburg last week proudly waving my purchase, my son-in-law chuckled and said “as opposed to the Worst Of?” After viewing of the Best Of and remembering my experience of the live performance in Minneapolis, I’ve concluded that the Worst Of would look the same. There is no Worst.
It can only be described as an experience. You watch, you feel, you meld with it and believe all you have to do is put on the tap shoes and you are one of them. That night my friend Lisa and I persisted 65 dark miles through winter wind and snow, and froze our fingers and cheekbones walking to the old Minneapolis Theatre. The stage was wooden, the floors were wooden, the seats creaky and packed close together, barely room to peel off the parkas.
Lisa educated me all the way there on theater behavior. She studied theater, there is protocol. There is prescribed pattern. By first curtain, if theater is a verb, I knew how to. Then the thunder of steeled toes and heels vibrated through the stage, the floors, the seats and penetrated the bodies. At the first opportunity to do so, the whole of the audience flew to their feet, shouting, whistling, applauding hard enough to wear on the tendon and joint. Lisa must have been in theatrical shock but she too rose to her feet eventually, commenting later that she thought she was at a hockey game after a double overtime.
You too can buy the DVD in Dolby, set up the surround sound, crank up the subwoofer, and swim in the magic of Riverdance. But …. until they’re in front of you on a wooden stage, passionately stomping out their heritage, until you’re watching “by the seat of your pants,” you haven’t felt Riverdance. If you have that opportunity, you just may hear some Irish in your blood.