TradFest, Farmers’ Markets, Celticity, Catholicism, and More

Since I wrote last, I have mostly been settling in smoothly. Most of the detail-oriented crap is out of the way, and I have been enjoying settling into my classes, cultivating new friendships, and digging into new experiences!


This weekend was TradFest, Temple Bar’s annual traditional Irish music festival. Trad bands came in from all over Ireland and filled up the pubs with songs, instruments, and jam sessions. The festival also put on a bunch of cultural and language workshops, classes, and shows; the Irish Film Institute even showed old Irish movies outside in the square! TradFest was really cool, and I especially loved the music:

Temple Bar, the epicenter of TradFest 2010!

Nyah Cavan

Nyah Cavan's INSANELY talented 6-time national bodhran champion!

Classic old trad band in Temple Bar (all wearing matching Irish cableknit sweaters, I might add!)

Extremely talented fiddle-player for a street theatre Punch and Judy show

Electric Ceili - easily one of the top bands of the weekend!

The Auld Dubliner, my favorite pub in Temple Bar (besides The Duke, which is my favorite pub in Dublin)

At any rate, we didn’t get a chance to attend much of the workshops and classes (some of them were pretty expensive), but we did roam around the area and find some cool stuff on our own!

Farmer’s Markets and Good Food

One of the high points of the weekend was when we roamed around Grafton Street and Temple Bar and found the local farmers’ markets! One farmers’ market was extremely upper crust, selling all organic, gourmet and imported goods, but I loved it anyway. (I love me some gourmet cooking!) Plus, it had an absolutely DELICIOUS open-air food market across the cobblestoned alleyway – breads, chocolates, kabobs, seafood, pastries, cheeses, mugs of chocolate – it was all looked, smelled, and tasted wonderful! I had the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had that day: steaming hot, melted chunks of chocolate, whipped cream, the whole bit!

Oh, and to cap off our TradFest weekend, we also had a traditional Irish breakfast fryup: eggs, bacon, tomato, mushroom, sausage links, and blood sausage! I didn’t particularly care for the blood sausage, but everything else was amazing – especially the sausage links and fried mushroom.

Anyway, the other farmers’ market was a little lower end. It wasn’t the fresh, local produce we were sort of expecting – it seemed more like the vendors had gone to Tesco, purchased a bunch of groceries, and then were just selling them on the street. This is possible, I guess, but the price was low and the quality looked good. So we picked up a big bag of mushrooms and garlic! Afterwards we trooped home and I helped Chris make the BEST dinner we’ve had since arriving: thick, tender, delicious salmonf illets over creamy garlic/mushroom alfredo pasta! It was so good and the salmon practically melted under youf rok. Yum! Plus, we got five meals out of that whole, fresh salmon slab – and there’s still more in the fridge!

How To Feel Valuable When I Am Not Working

Sunday was nice. I got almost all of my entire homework list done for the whole week! I also completed a major loan application, got ALL of my laundry washed, folded, and put away, and cleaned my room! It feels really good to be productive and on the ball with my tasks and chores.

But one thing about that bears some discussion. For most of my life – the last two or three years, at least – I have simply not felt right unless I am working. If I am alone, not hanging with friends, not spending time with Chris, I literally do not feel like a valuable person unless I am accomplishing some kind of task.

Of course this workaholic motivation can’t last, so eventually I just collapse and veg out and feel useless until it’s time for bed.

So, I’ve been thinking about how “relearn”/”remember” how to be alone with myself and still feel happy and fulfilled. In particular, a few different ideas have caught my attention:

1. I want to read more, especially about ancient Celtic culture and early Christianity. I just finished Bill Watkins’ “Once and Future Celt”, and really, really loved it. I want to read more books! This is especially true given how much I’m learning about ancient pre-Celtic, Celtic, and Christian cultures in these islands. There is SO much I’m learning – Newgrange, Boudica, and St. Brigid is only the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a monumental wealth of cultural and religious experience to dig into here!

2. I want to go exploring by myself. At the end of the day, UCD is a very international, very privileged party school in a very nice part of town. I want to get out of Dodge and experience some real Ireland. Dublin and TradFest fulfills part of that for me, but I want more and I want it better.

3. I want to practice my spirituality. I’ve been nearly three years on this journey now, and I feel like I’m *thisclose* to knowing what I really want.

In the end, I want a way that (a) I can practice regular rites, rituals, holidays, and festivals, feeling really connected with nature, time, and the passing of seasons, and (b) not have to give up/legislate my views on Judaism, Christ and Christianity, pluralism, and religious heritage.

In some ways, Judaism gave me the former, but doesn’t really help me cultivate the latter. (Christ wouldn’t get to be even remotely central in my practice and wouldn’t quite fit anyway.)

In the meantime, Christianity gives me the latter, but maybe not the former. Christian rites and practices (when practiced to the degree that I want) would rotate highly around Christ and frequently seem determined to internalize the pagan right out of them.

Obviously these are gross overgeneralizations, but I don’t want my faith tradition to relegate me to the outskirts or minority of my community.

For these reasons, I’m tempted to think that Irish Catholicism – tied so deeply as it is to pagan/pre-Christian practices and practiced with such ardent fervor in this country – might allow me a decent opportunity. Maybe I could explore yearly rites, rituals, and seasonal events, all while still celebrating my spiritual life?

It’s a tough call, though, and I don’t know what I’m ready to do or what I want to give up to follow it. So, I want to work on that.

It’s fitting, I think, that as I first wrote this blog, it was St. Brigit’s Day! Brigit is a female Catholic saint, an Irish female heroine, and the contemporary incarnation of a possible pre-Christian/Celtic goddess (potentially “Bride”, among others). She’s pretty much Irish Catholicism and Irish Celticity’s power female figure and heroine, so maybe it stands to reason that I’m thinking about her around her day.

Anyway, this blog post has covered a lot of stuff I wanted to touch on. Until next time, enjoy the pictures!


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