Author: Lily Rowen
On Saturday, Jan. 30, The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL) hosted the Los Angeles-based Irish minstrel Ken O’Malley, who performed a concert called “All Their Wars Are Merry and Their Songs Are Sad: A Musical Journey Through The Times of Troubles and the Times of Peace” in Herrick Chapel.
The concert served as a fundraiser for future student trips to Ireland, similar to the one held this past January over winter break. Students on the trip traveled to Northern Ireland and spent their time learning about the country’s Troubles, the broad term that refers to the violence between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants in the region that occurred on and off throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The concert featured not only O’Malley’s music, but also a discussion about the historic and current conflict in Northern Ireland.
O’Malley was born and raised in Dublin and attended a Christian Brothers’ school. His interest in music first peaked in his teenage years, as he began to study traditional Irish music and rock ‘n’ roll. “My love for music is one of my greatest gifts,” he said.
Reverend Susan Young heard about O’Malley through Reverend Heather Bartolome, and knew O’Malley from their work with the Glendale First United Methodist Church. Before the students left for Ireland, they met O’Malley, who sang for them and told them about the Troubles. “The students just loved Ken,” said Young. They continued their exploration of Irish music during the Winter Break Ireland trip.
Traditional Irish music is rooted in the pub culture, where people gather to sing and listen to music. “Music is a very important connection between the people and the soul of our Irish nation,” said O’Malley. The ORSL, O’Malley and the students who went to Ireland hoped to bring this spirit to the rest of the Oxy campus.Music was a central focus of the students that went to Ireland over Winter Break in their explorations of the Troubles, spirituality and culture. “The music scene was great,” said Ben Herrington-Gilmore (sophomore). “Live Irish music was playing at most of the restaurants and pubs . . . everyone sings along, knows the lyrics to both the old and new [songs].”
The ORSL, in accordance with O’Malley, staged the concert to promote awareness among students concerned with international politics and the resurgence of discord in the Catholic/Protestant conflict.
“To me, college students are the future of our world and are at an age when they soak up information and hopefully apply it to their personal and career choices,” said O’Malley.
“This will be the first time I have done a show which is specifically geared towards the history and reconciliation in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
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