Ireland, The Most Beautiful Place In The World!

June Goal: Learning the Irish Flute

For those of you who know the Mueller’s, you know that Irish music and dance is a big part of our lives. Ted and Elizabeth both play in the band, Vinegar Hill. Elizabeth also plays fiddle and sings with Ladies of Longford and Lone Raven. Our nieces, Isabella and Sophia are champion Irish dancers and Zoe is quickly following in their footsteps. During the month of June, I attempted to learn Irish Traditional Music on classical flute in preparation for our trip to Ireland. I feel like a beginner again and like most skills, I’m realizing that Irish music is way more challenging than I anticipated. After a year and a half of goals, I’m pretty worn out and didn’t give this goal as much attention as the others. However, here’s a couple things I learned and experimented with along the way.

Several years ago I received the DVD, Irish Music on the Classical Flute by Brian McCoy from my father-in-law, Ted. I watched this instructional video throughout the month to learn the basic fundamentals of playing this new style. Irish flute playing requires more fundamental tone and less harmonics than classical flute playing. The tone has a very focused, dark, reedy and haunting sound. Vibrato is used sparingly and mainly on longer notes. Playing with an “Irish Accent” requires new ornamentation, such as cuts, strikes and rolls. The slide comes from the Irish Uilleann Bagpipe tradition. To slide, the flutist slowly opens the keys by pushing the fingers forward. A roll, like the classical turn, requires the flutist to play the written note, the note above, the principal note, note below, and principal note again. The cut is used for staccato playing and grace notes are played one note above. Classical fingerings or alternate fingers can be used. The cut and strike cut are performed by rapidly lifting and putting down a finger. The strike is executed by rapidly hitting and lifting an open hole with a finger. I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to execute all of these new techniques! Irish flute music is usually performed in a legato, less articulate style. Most Irish music is written in two parts, usually 8-bars each. (A and B) Each part usually has introductory or lead-in notes, like the classical pick-ups. Lead in notes don’t always need to be played. As flute players, we can leave those out to breathe. Throughout the month, I tried reading a tune a day from Anne McGinty’s 99 Irish Dance Tunes for Flute.

July Goal: Discovering the World of Photography

During the month of July my goal is to learn a little bit more about photography, photoshop, and various photography apps. I certainly didn’t run out of things to photograph this week in Ireland. We returned with 800 photographic memories to enjoy for years to come! Here’s a little photo journal of our travels!

July 1st: This morning we arrived at Columbus International Airport bright eyed and bushy tailed to embark on a journey of a lifetime to the Republic of Ireland!

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We arrived at JKF with hours to spare when Mother Nature decided to pay us a visit with a tornado warnings. After hours and hours of delays, we were planning to board our plane around 1:30am. Just as the flight was starting to board, “CANCELLED” flashed across the screen! 🙁 We watched in horror as this looney tune screamed at the staff and then decided to walk behind the counter and book his own flight. Just steps away, I looked on as these gals raised their tent for the evening while the rest of us just slept on the floor!

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July 2nd: We were supposed to have the day to ourselves in Ennis, but due to our travel delays, we spent another night in the airport. At the very least, we were in London Heathrow at this point instead of JFK. However, I was wondering when Tom Hanks planned to join us for the filming of a sequel to The Terminal. :/ We finally made it through security and had the most amazing breakfast at WonderTree Cafe! I followed it with a $20 shower at the airport. After sleeping on the floor for two nights, it was totally worth it, not to mention the best $20 I’ve ever spent!

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July 3rd: We arrived in Ennis with 30 minutes to spare before our tour of the Cliffs of Moher began. It was the most beautiful day to experience such a breathtaking view!

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July 4th: After a much needed night’s rest in a real bed, we toured a 13th Century Ennis Friary and then headed to County Limerick’s Village of Adare. We had a delicious lunch at the Market Place Cafe and then headed to the Dingle Peninsula.

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July 5th: This morning we visited Dingle Crystal for a cutting demonstration and before boarding the bus for the most beautiful road in Ireland, Slea Head Drive, I met this adorable cow. Slea Head Drive certainly lived up to it’s reputation!

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We returned to Dingle for a tour of the Dingle Whiskey Distillery. Keep an eye on the Columbus Dispatch in the coming weeks. You might see this picture again! 😉

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We ended the day in Dingle with some traditional Irish music where I met an amazing Irish flutist, Teresa Horgan. We talked briefly between sets and she gave me some tips for playing the Irish flute.

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July 6th: Today we set out on a walking tour of Dingle Town and took a boat cruise around Dingle Bay where we had a couple encounters with Fungie, the dolphin! I wasn’t able to capture a picture of him myself, but here’s a video of him! This week has been filled with new animal friends! Meet Seamus, the Irish wolfhound of Milltown House!

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July 7th: Today we traveled across the Emerald Isle to Dublin. On the way we stopped at the Rock of Cashel.

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July 8th: This morning we visited the ancient tombs of Brú na Bóinne and the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum in Dublin. These ancient tombs have been around longer than the pyramids!

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July 9th: After a walking tour of Dublin, we visited Trinity College, the National Museum, and Dublin Castle. Tonight we say goodbye to our fellow travelers and our tour guide, Stephen.

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July 10th: During our travels back to the US, I played around with some photo apps and created a collage of our favorite moments together on the trip!

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