The Accordion Lesson

The mere mention of the the word ‘accordion’ brings me back to a day in school when I was twelve years old. One of the older girls in the class arrived back after lunch with a huge glossy accordion with glistening keys. I was enthralled to see the instrument right there beside me and begged her to let me have a tiny go with it. She kindly passed it to me like someone handing you their new born baby.

I opened it up like I’d seen her doing and pressed a few keys. The sound was amazing, though utterly grating in a musical sense. I’d only been ‘playing’ it for about 40 seconds when I realised that one of the keys had popped up and the whole thing looked like an open mouth with a tooth bulging out. I froze and didn’t know how to tell her that I had managed to break her prize possession.

She didn’t take it very well when she saw the damage I had done and looked shell-shocked. I’d always been a bit afraid of her because she was much older than me and seemed very grown up and sophisticated.

Everything about the rest of the happenings that afternoon is a complete blur but the feeling of absolute panic that I felt is as fresh as if it were now. I had visions of having to leave school and go out to work to try and pay back for the damage or see Father slaving away to deal with the terrible debt I had landed on the family.

I vowed not to tell anyone about the sorry affair until I knew the extent of the trouble I was in. However, Mother saw my angst the minute I landed home and I spluttered the whole story out to her. She did her best to calm me down but did remind me of the Shakespearean quote that I’d heard her use but had never understood until then: ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

I was on tenterhooks waiting for the girl’s father to come knocking on the door all that evening and was a nervous wreck going into school next day. Mercifully, it ended well and, as I remember it, we only had to pay a small sum to help with the repairs.

To this day, I have an absolute thing about borrowing and only lend if I feel I will be able to be gracious if the borrower ends up in the same kind of pickle as I did.

The more I think about school days, the more I realise that the life lessons learned there were far more important than so much of the academic stuff.

In spite of all that accordion trauma, I still have an abiding love for the instrument:

Ireland #1

Ireland is going to be very much in the news in the coming week because St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17.

I am incredibly proud to be from this beautiful country and to live here as well.

Ireland, with its population of almost 5 million people, is on the very periphery of Europe and prides itself on its cultural heritage among many other things.

Tonight, I’d like to bring you a tune from The Chieftains, a very well-known Irish traditional band, founded in 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy (who I am proud to say is a cousin of mine).

Tabhair dom do Lamh translates from Irish to ‘Give me Your Hand.’

The Music of The Bridge ~ Sunday Senses

Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford
Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Bridges are more than special to me ~ why else would I call this blog  Social Bridge?

Today I would like to bring you a piece of Irish music An Droichead which is Irish for The Bridge, played by Liam O’Flynn and Mark Knopfler. I find it hauntingly beautiful and it gets me thinking of all the bridges, physical and social, that mean so much to me.

I’d love to hear about the bridges of your life, or indeed, the writings or music that you associate with them.


The Greatest Love Song ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 61

I’ve just been down a labyrinth of memory lanes trying to identify the ‘Greatest Love Song.’  How on earth can anyone be objective about this, given that love songs really are all about associations to love, feelings of love ….. Love has so, so many guises ~ those yearnings, the missed heartbeats, eyes meeting, hands touching, hearts melting …..

A song that wouldn’t seem remotely like a ‘love song’ to anyone else could be the ultimate ‘love song’ because of the memories it conjures up and I’ve just been luxuriating  in a bubble bath of those!

Having said all that, I keep coming back to one man and one song. I’ve written about my absolute admiration for Liam Clancy here before

and it is to him I turn again for my ‘Greatest Love Song.’

Sharon Shannon ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 31

Co. Clare, with which I have great affinity as my father was from Kilrush, is widely acclaimed for its traditional music. Sharon Shannon stands out for me as the greatest musician to emerge from Co. Clare in my lifetime. She is an absolute natural and has touched the hearts of audiences right around the globe. I hope you enjoy these next few minutes hearing her play Blackbird. 

Farewell to The Dubliners ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 24

The Dubliners , who held their farewell concert on December 30th,  were one of the dominant Irish folk bands since they formed in 1962.  I doubt there is a person with Irish blood in them who has not sung along to songs like The Rocky Road to Dublin,  Black Velvet Band, and one of my all time favourites, Wild Rover. 

The Dubliners – Wild Rover