Thursday, May 24
by Nick Budden, sophomore bass
Our day began at 9 a.m. but waking was finally easy. We’d officially adjusted to the time difference and the overall pace of tour. We said goodbye to the famous Georgian doors of Dublin and anticipated the day ahead.
The entire day could be summarized by just one word: contrast. Over the span of a few hours we went from the crowded city of Dublin to the wide open spaces of Glendalough, a monastic site that began in the six century. The gentle hills and city-scape transformed into mountains covered in an ocean of green. This was the stereotypical Irish landscape that we all had in mind. Ireland’s forty shades of green were accented by vibrant yellow plants called gorse. The landscape was stunning and we now understand why this countryside was the setting of so many movies.
St. Kevin started the monastery of Glendalough. Its buildings include a round tower (these are special to Ireland, although there are two in Scotland and one on the Isle of Mann), a cathedral, other small huts for sleeping, and a graveyard, all built between the 500s and about 1200. Its location was picturesque, centered on a hill between two mountains, a valley, and two lakes (Glendalough, means the glen between two lakes). A few choristers made references to the Lord of the Rings, which seemed fitting. We had a short break to explore the area and most of us opted to wander around the lakes. The setting and free time provided an opportunity for simultaneous self-reflection and community building.
Our tour of Glendalough ended in song. We circled up outside the chapel and near a gently flowing stream that provided the perfect background ambience. The acoustics of singing outdoors forced us to listen harder than usual, which strengthened our sense of community even further.
Our evening concert was at the parish church in the little town (population 1,000) of Ferns, the hometown of one of our tour managers, Tom Doyle. The space was built in the 1970s, making it by far the newest performance venue to date, and a huge contrast to almost all of the spaces in which we’ve sung, since they were built in the medieval period. Its warm acoustics were a great match for the warm “Drake Choir sound.”
The concert was very intimate because of the design of the church and the enthusiastic crowd. “Sleep,” “Os justi,” and “O verbum Patris were top-notch tonight and the parish priest thank us for giving 110% effort. He also encouraged us to use our talents and to make the most of the long lives ahead of us. Re-energized, we looked forward to the day ahead in Killarney!
Here is the link to Thursday, May 24th photos: