Oct 242008

After Belfast we headed to Portadown for a concert at St. John The Baptist Church, Drumcree Parish on the Garvaghy road. This is a significant area in recent Irish history as the Garvaghy road was the site of major disputes over an annual march by the Orange Order. These disputes a decade nearly derailed the peace process. Our sponsor in Portadown, Jerome, took us for a drive around town to show us the road, Drumcree Church (Church of Ireland) and some of the neighborhood divisions and Anti-Catholic graffiti that still exist today. My first trip to Ireland with John Michael was in 2003 after the peace process had really begun to take hold. The armed checkpoints at the border were gone and the military presence largely diminished (even more so now). So for me there is a ghostly quality to all the tales of the troubles. They are certainly a close memory for the Irish of the northern counties though.
Enda McClusker was again tapped to handle sound and lights for us in Portadown. Enda’s light man, Des, is a member at St. John The Baptist so he was on hand early in the day to get started. Enda as it turned out was a bit late having made a trip to the hospital after closing is thumbs in roadcase the night before. Ouch! Still, between Enda’s guys and myself we had the rig loaded in, set and measured in record time. The concert itself was a big success with the church wonderfully decorated with candles and light by Des and Francis (the sacristan at St. John. Another treat was meeting all the kids in the youth group who helped run the event along with Fr. Michael & Fr. Brian.
Saturday the 11th we remained in Portadown. Fr. Michael, Jerome & Fr. Brian took us on a little sightseeing trip. First down through Newry to the mountain overlooking Carlingford Lough, then in to the little village of Carlingford. Then after a typically Irish pub stop for soup and sandwiches it was back up to Newry, across the river and down to Rostrevor to visit the Benedictine Monks at Holy Cross Monastery. With the impending construction at Little Portion John Michael was quite excited to tour this new monastery.
With all that we still made it back up to Portadown for the Vigil Mass when John Michael sang Healer of My Soul as a communion meditation and later a nice dinner out with all our Portadown sponsors.
Next time, we’re off to Derry.

JMT, Fr. Brian and the youth group at St. John the Baptist

JMT in concert at St. John The Baptist Portadown

Overlooking Carlingford Lough

Cows on the road

Thatched roof in the countryside

King John’s Castle, Carlingford

Town gate & jail, Carlingford

With the monks at Holy Cross Monastery, Rostrevor

Jerome Marley, Viola & JMT, Fr. Michael O’Dwyer

 October 24, 2008  Posted by at 12:45 pm
Oct 222008

Well, home now. Just a brief review of the Ireland trip with JMT. Even though I was at Little Portion I flew separately from John Michael and Viola. I left XNA early on the morning of the 7th flying first to Atlanta, then Newark and on to Dublin. I’ve never flown through Newark before though I took a friend there for a trip to London long ago. Terminal C is OK with lots of food options, but I still had a long layover and no amount of food will cure that. Flying from the NYC area up the coast toward Newfoundland after Dark I tried to identify what features I could along the way. Saw the baseball stadiums in the Bronx (Yankee new & old I think). Mistook Providence for Boston which I realized fifteen minutes later when the pilot announced that Boston was visible out the left side of the plane.

Boston from 35,000 feet

I was in the very last row of the 757 on the trip out. Fortunately, the middle seat was empty so I had some room. It’s also fortunate that I hadn’t succumbed to the urge to buy the special fancy power adapter to use on the plane with my laptop. Turns out that Continental’s 757’s have been refit and have plain old 120VAC in every row!
I arrived in Dublin at 7am local time but still had about two hours to kill before our friend Gerry McCoy would arrive to pick us up (the Talbots were scheduled to arrive around 9:30). I was meant to wait for Gerry in in the food court upstairs above departures. Problem, I couldn’t find my way into the food court. It seemed to me to be on the other side of security. So back down to the arrival area which is really not much bigger than in Buffalo and pretty spartan in the way of accommodation. I parked myself in a chair and did my best not to fall asleep for the next two hours or so. I stood up to begin looking for Gerry when Lo & Behold John Michael & Viola stroll in having landed early. Now to wait for Gerry. After some waiting Gerry rushes to us, having been looking for me in the food court for some time. “How did you get in there?” I ask incredulously. According to Gerry “you have to be Irish”.
So off we go into Gerry’s car for the drive up to Belfast with much catching up to do along the way. We arrived at the Balmoral hotel in Belfast at 11am by which time I believe I had been continuously awake for 24 hours (I didn’t sleep on any of the flights). Off to the room for an afternoon of napping and then a quick dinner. And now for my pet peeve of the trip….hotel beds with no top sheet! Fitted sheet on the mattress and just a duvet. Problem, the duvet is too darn warm and I don’t like to sleep uncovered. Aaargh. I though the Irish were famous for linens. Didn’t I read that in Douglas Adams book? Would one more sheet really kill them? Just the hotels, the B & Bs were fine.
Spotted from my window at the Balmoral

Our first concert In Belfast went great, with sound provided by our friend from Armagh, Enda McClusker. Enda’s done several concerts for us now and has really grown his production business since we met in 2003. We wish him continued success!
More from the Ireland trip soon….

From the first concert, in Belfast

 October 22, 2008  Posted by at 5:35 am Tagged with: , , , , ,
Oct 192008

Well I have to apologize. We’ve been in Ireland for two weeks and I haven’t posted a thing. Truth is we’ve been almost completely without internet access through out the trip and now I’m thoroughly exhausted too! We have one more concert tonight and fly home tomorrow. I have a bunch of pictures to share and people to thank so hopefully I’ll get to writing and posting more soon. Until then pray for safe journeys for John Michael, Viola and myself.

 October 19, 2008  Posted by at 7:28 am
Oct 072008

Well I am currently on a layover of a few hours at Newark airport in New Jersey awaiting departure for Dublin this evening. So far it’s been a pretty easy day with the exception of a little phone tussle with AT&T over WiFi access. The flight attendant on my first flight this morning was named Colleen Fitzpatrick, that has to be a good omen on the way to Ireland!
To tide you over until I have something to offer from Ireland I’ve included a few more pictures from the Gathering at Little Portion.

Groundbreaking for a new Chapel & Common Center
(Can Viola handle a shovel or what?!)

How many cameras can you count?

Music from Shepherdsfield
Enjoying the music

 October 7, 2008  Posted by at 1:17 pm
Oct 062008
I arrived at Little Portion Thursday having stopped to pick up equipment from our new friends at DB Productions in Rogers, Arkansas. There was much excitement to be found at LP as the preparations for the 25th anniversary gathering were in full swing when I arrived. Friday night John Michael played a concert in town at the First Assembly of God for gathering attendees and the local populace. Saturday, the main day of the gathering, included morning prayer, teaching, a groundbreaking and blessing for the new Chapel & Common Center, a presentation from the architects about the new building, music from members of the Shepherds Field community, a Vigil Mass including the baptism of little Juan Pablo born just this past Tuesday, and finally a dinner featuring Little Portion pasture raised chicken.
I am truly grateful to have been invited. I see BSCD members here and there across the country but never so many all in one place! It was a joyful, if busy weekend for me. In addition to all of the BSC/BSCD members and friends who showed so much hospitality this weekend I have to publicly thank the Shepherdsfield members who gave everyone so much help, including me. I came out into the dark after dinner to find that the young men of Shepherdsfield had carefully packed up all the audio equipment that we’d setup for Mass and condensed it all into one neat pile. No gesture could have meant more to me at that moment as I was near dead on my feet. I have not located a web site for Shepherdsfield but if I do I will post a link here. I would love to thank everyone who touched me this weekend by name but if I do it will take forever and I’ll end up leaving someone out. So, thank you all!

Debbie Ballard BSCD pointed out this flower growing in the rubble from the fire.

Richard Ims BSC giving the kids a ride at Little Portion.

BSC & BSCD Kids performing Walk With Jesus from Monk Rock for John Michael.

Our concert hosts at Berryville First Assembly of God Keith & Carol Butler with John Michael & Viola Talbot.

Benedict Don’t Call Me Benny the 17th

Sister Mary Catherine BSC sharing the story of the fire with the children.

Sharon Pratka & Father Brian preparing the outdoor sanctuary for Mass.
 October 6, 2008  Posted by at 6:07 pm