Thursday, July 12, 2012

Peter's Parting Poem

Parting Poem
To the ‘Naperville Chicks”

It’s always hard to say goodbye
To friends that you hold dear
To a happy crew, whom for you
Have yielded endless cheer
Who listened to your every word
With interest and delight
Whose dulcet sound made your heart pound
Their humor always bright
Alas today, they make their way
Back home to kith and kin
Their visit here, it’s plainly clear
Has just been win on win
So God’s speed to these gifted gals
As they leave our land
May He forever hold each one
Safely in His hand.

© Peter F Byrne 19 June 2012

A collection of limericks from our tour!

Pete’s Poems
The ‘Limerick’

The Limerick is a five-line poem with the rhyming scheme of AABBA - the ‘B’ lines being shorter than the ‘A’ lines. Its invention goes back to a party game originating in the County of Limerick in Ireland through which the North Central College Women’s Chorale passed on their recent visit here. Traditionally ‘Limericks’ are somewhat bawdy or ‘blue’ but not necessarily so. Hundreds of thousands of Limericks have been written without being ‘risqué’.  

While I am perfectly capable of penning ‘blue’ Limericks, I endeavored not to do so on the recent visit of the North Central College Women’s Chorale. I considered all of the girls as my own daughters and I would naturally give them due respect.
In referencing the poetic form of the ‘Limerick’ while passing through that county, I little realized the effect it would have on the latent poetic talents of the group in general - and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing outcome.

The reference to Saint Augustine reprises a quote of his which referred to liturgical music when he said”: “Those who sing pray twice”!

A choir from Naperville IL.
As ‘Headliners’ they top the bill
With voices like theirs
They twice say their prayers
St. Augustine must be with us still!

In their magnificent sound
Harmonious joy does abound
Right from the start
These girls lift your heart
No sweeter a sound can be found!

Their leader vivacious Ramona
A lass with a magic persona
She strives to be best
And with her zest
It’s plain to see that she’s ‘gonna’!

Their ivory tinkler named ‘Barb’
Was finding it tight in her garb
When going for a drink
She said, ‘let me think’
I better make this one ‘low-carb’!

Two Poetic writers of note
Each seeking the Number One vote
Caused quite a fuss
With their joust on the bus
With the BARBaric Limericks they wrote!

Two ladies named Benna and Ty
Into their tour book did spy
Being ever so keen
At all the sights seen
They kept Peter sharp by and by

The Angelic Alyssa Allgood
Kept Pete in his place, as she should
She knew all the tricks
He might try with the chicks
To woo one if only he could!

Then there was young Katie Liddy
Who’s been laughing since she was a kiddie
So it’s no surprise
I tell you no lies
Why this kiddie Liddy’s so giddy!
© Peter F Byrne 19 June 2012

There was a young man named Peter
Who turned out to be quite a leader
He told Dave where to go
And then said, "Oh, no!"
"We'll not make it down the street-er."

There once was a fiddler named Drew
Whose bow on the ground he threw
With a smile and a wink
And hardly a blink
He finished the song and said, "Phew"

We once took a group on a ferry
The lassies began oh so merry
They sang as they swayed
But soon they all prayed
For the trip turned out quite hairy.

There once was a bus driver named Dave
Who took it as good as he gave.
With a smile on his face
By the door in his place
He said, "Girls you now must behave."

There once were two girls, Ty and Benna
In Ireland they raised the  antenna
Then Hal called and said
"I awoke in my bed
For I feared you had flown to Vienna."
Peter, our fearless tour guide,
We've shared many an entertaining ride.
A bus full of cheer, our grins ear to ear,
We will always share his Irish pride.

Amanda the opportunity sleeper
Awake we could not keep her
Asleep on the bus
And never a fuss
 One of a kind dream keeper
To Ireland we came
Traveled on a bus full of dames
With company of gents
Singing in churches and not Wentz
Our lives will never be the same!

We went to a pub one day,
Quite late there we did stay.
A man asked me for a kiss, then moved on to Dr. Wis,
So rock, paper, scissors for him we did play.
--Amanda Broaddus

On the bus many girls were asleep
Their eyes closed, they made not a peep
Snoozing without care
They are quite unaware
So let's all get our cameras and creep

All the sheep made the girls say "awwww"
Even though, many thousands they saw
They oooh'd at the cows
But what drew the most wows
was a traffic cone

With an excess of sugars and creams
Peter certainly loved coffee beans
Though the choir was tired
Their guide was quite wired
sadistic, his oklahoma screams

Old tires on your left
Silage on your right
Sheep that have been serviced
Sketchy vans that are white

Gruesomely severed fingers
Exploits in a gay bar
Hitting on all the singers
(but he didn't get very far)

"Tails" of fighting kitties
All different breeds of cow
Mountains that look like titties
Peter is, like totally, wow

If anyone has other limericks from the tour, maybe ones you wrote in the book to Peter, please send me an e-mail and I'll add them to our collection here :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012's afternoon again?

We have landed and dispersed from O'Hare! The plane ride home was great. The time change might be a little rough, since it's 10:18 pm in Ireland currently. :) I had such a wonderful time in Ireland with the ladies of Women's Chorale and NCC faculty and friends. The memories I made on the trip will never be forgotten. Thank you to everyone who tuned in to the blog for the week! We appreciate your support and prayers. Kimberly "may the road rise to meet you"

Headed Home

We're departing Dublin for Chicago on Aer Lingus
Flight EI 125.....12:50pm Ireland time

We are scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 3:15pm.

We will then head to the Terminal 5 baggage claim.

It's bittersweet to be leaving Ireland--we have had such a remarkable experience. But, I think we will be glad to be back home to see our families and get some sleep :)


Monday, June 18, 2012

"May the Road Rise to Meet You"

Hello friends, family and readers of our Ireland tour blog! Thank you for tuning in to our last-night-in-Ireland blog post. :)

Today was a pretty amazing day, if I do say so myself. We began with breakfast at the hotel, which included a wide array of hot breakfast items, cereal, bread, fruit and juice. After breakfast, we all loaded the bus to begin our morning tour of Dublin.

The first stop on the tour was at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The reason this is such an awesome opportunity is because the Book of Kells is a 9th-century gospel manuscript that is famous all over the world. The craftsmanship those scribes had to put into their work is incredible.

Learning about the history of Trinity College
We also were able to walk through the library, a magnificent room with thousands upon thousands of books. There, some of us got to see the Proclamation of Ireland, which was signed in 1916. The room was full of history and knowledge. It was a neat experience.

After leaving the Book of Kells, we took a small tour, led by Peter, of Trinity College campus square. We had a little time to take a few pictures of the group in front of the archway. Peter told us the superstitions the students have about walking under the arch. If they walk under it, they won't graduate. They follow this rule closely and never pass through until after graduation.

The Group at Trinity College
We boarded the bus after touring Trinity College, and drove to St. Patrick's Cathedral. This cathedral dates back to 1220. Even stepping inside the doors was an amazing experience. The church was absolutely beautiful.

Our concert began a bit loud because people were taking tours of the church, talking over each other, and probably not realizing it was an organized event. However, soon after they realized we were singing, and sounded very good, they quieted down a bit. :) The acoustics in the church were fantastic, and we had chance to have this concert recorded!

The tour group in St. Patrick's Cathedral
After the touching concert, the group boarded the bus, changed back into our street clothes, and got ready to explore the city! Most of the group went shopping for souvenirs and even practical every-day clothing from fashionable stores. Many girls found jewelry at little stands on the sidewalks. 

When it came time to board the bus again it was right before dinner time. We headed back to the hotel where we had a few minutes to freshen up before going down to the restaurant for dinner. On the way, Tour Manager Megan D. had us sign framed pictures of the group and our bus driver, Dave, and tour guide, Peter, for them to keep. They were so good to us, and they deserve every bit of praise. 

We also each signed the journal Megan bought for Peter. Some wrote poems, some wrote limericks, and others merely said "thanks". Peter, if you read the blog, I just want to let you know that from all of your Chicago "daughters", we truly enjoyed spending time with you. We appreciate Peter and Dave so much and we're so glad they were able to be our guides on this trip!

Ty and Benna were also wonderful on the trip. They were truly our biggest fans everywhere we went. I could look out at any point and see at least one of them beaming or singing along to our songs. :) They were sweet enough to buy us chocolate bars special from Ireland. We're very thankful to have had them on the tour with us!

After a heartfelt farewell dinner, the group split up to explore Dublin, head to a nearby pub, or settle down for the night. It was a remarkable and memorable last night in Ireland, and I couldn't have asked to have spent it with anyone else but the wonderful Women's Chorale ladies. :) 

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all enjoy your evening! "Slainte!"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Shopping, shopping, and more shopping!

Today was filled with shopping, bus rides, and a night out on the town of Kerry! We began our day with breakfast at the hotel, then hopped on the bus and headed for the Muckross House, the main focal  point of Killarney National Park. Once we got into the park, there were many "ooo's and ahh's" at the deer and other wildlife there.

The Muckross House was finished in 1843, and was owned by Henry Arthur Herbert and Mary Herbert. There were many owners after the couple, but it is now a part of Killarney National Park. We learned a good deal about the house, and were able to explore many of the rooms. Unfortunately, I can't show you what they looked like because the house did not allow flash photography, but I can share a picture I took of the outside of the house.

The Muckross House

One of the most interesting parts of the tour (in my opinion) was when we learned about Queen Victoria's visit. She called the Herberts six years in advance, telling them she was coming to visit the Muckross house. They arranged for her visit, changing rooms, having furniture made. When she came, she brought with her 100 servants and her own bed, even though the Herberts had one made just for her. They expected her to stay awhile; at least a few weeks, months, maybe even years. Guess how many days she stayed? The Queen stayed a total of two days at the Muckross House, then went back home. The tour group talked about that the whole rest of the day, still in disbelief.

After leaving the Muckross House, we stopped at a jewelry/clothing store. While shopping, the store workers served us coffee, free of charge. Many people bought souvenirs for themselves, loved ones and friends at the shop. After we sang "Danny Boy" for the store staff, we boarded the bus for the Ring of Kerry.

Because it is so vast, we rode in the bus for the tour of the Ring of Kerry. The views were absolutely breathtaking. I know I keep writing that, and that's because it's true. In Ireland, there is no shortage of amazing views. Or cows and sheep. :) 

Once we got to a high point of the Ring, we stopped for some photo opportunities. The wind was crazy, and we were a little afraid of being blown right off the edge! So we hurried and took the group picture, then ran back to the bus, happy to be in one piece. 

At a photo stop along the Ring of Kerry 
We had a few more stops, including lunch at the Scarriff Inn and another group photo (at the bottom of the page). Then we were back on the road! 

One of the photo points at the Ring of Kerry
Peter, our tour guide, gave us two choices. Behind door number one was to be dropped off right downtown to shop for the afternoon, then head back for dinner. Behind door number two was to be taken the hotel, then be able to decide what to do from there. Most of the group chose number one, but a few of us wanted to drop off our bags of souvenirs and things, then head into town.

The town of Kerry is very charming. The buildings are all painted different colors, and the architecture is neat. They had all kinds of stores, ranging from pubs to boutiques to a spa dedicated to pampering feet only. We had fun wandering around, looking in stores we weren't sure about, buying things for lots of people (at least I know that's what Ali K. and I did!). :)

After we had our fun shopping, it was time for dinner at the hotel. We had a delicious choice of 3 courses. I chose the garlic mushrooms, fillet of cod with herb sauce, and pear hellene. It was very good, so hats off to the chef(s). 

After dinner, many members of the group gathered down in the lobby of the hotel to get ready to walk downtown. We were going to the pubs! The Danny Mann was our first stop of the evening. We had a nice sit in the lounge, then some stayed to listen to the live music, and others branched out to explore the city. Everyone had a group to stay with, so don't worry. We're all safe! :)

The pubs were fun, and very different than American bars. We listened to a wonderful trio of male singers at The Danny Mann toward the end of the night. They sang a mash-up of "Danny Boy" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water". It was both interesting and entertaining. 

Group photo at the Ring of Kerry

It was an eventful day for the tour group! Tomorrow we'll depart Killarney and head for the good ole city of Dublin, Ireland. We're excited to give another concert tomorrow and hope the 4 1/2 hours on the bus will be good vocal rest time after singing loudly at the pubs. :) Thank you for reading and have a wonderful night!

Friday, June 15, 2012

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"

The Women's Chorale Ireland tour group had a busy and wonderful day today. We started our Friday off with a wonderful breakfast at the Clayton Hotel in Galway. After everyone finished eating, we checked out of the hotel and boarded the bus to head to Bunratty Castle in County Clare.

The group outside of Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 and restored in 1954 to its former state. It now contains 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art to keep the mood of the castle the same. We also had the opportunity to experience the Bunratty Folk Park, which is a collection of over 30 buildings in a rural setting, as well as a "living" village. 

One of the buildings we visited was the School house. While there, we talked with Mike, who was very knowledgeable in the history of education and Irish culture. He told us about arranged marriages and dowries that used to take place in Ireland. 

Listening intently to Mike in "class"

To better explain how marriages worked back then, he used our very own Jessica Coffey as an example. Because she has no brothers and her mother has no brothers, it would be thought that she would not have sons, therefore making her not as "valuable" to the future husband's family. After they were wed, the husband's family could take everything from Jessica's family, because they were doing them a favor. Mike said, "let's all say three 'Hail Mary's' that Jessica finds a husband!" It was a fun part of the tour. :)

We visited many different shops in the Folk Park, including old candy stores, sweater shops, and a shop that makes jewelry right there in the park. One of the houses we toured in had something special going on. Two ladies were standing in the kitchen/family room, mixing what appeared to be ingredients for a cake. They were making it as if it were the 1400's though, and it was neat to listen to them talk about it, as well as watch their swift hands.

Watching one of the Bunratty ladies cook
The big part of the sight-seeing today was at Bunratty Castle. We had the amazing opportunity to sing "Danny Boy" on one of the top floors of the castle. While we were singing, the crowd grew bigger and bigger, and people were recording us on phones and cameras. Even Peter joined in and sang with us. :)

The castle had many nooks and crannies, including a dungeon and multiples look-outs on the top. The view from the towers was amazing. The architecture was gorgeous, and we learned many neat facts about the history of the castle and it's inhabitants.

After we finished touring Bunratty Castle and Park, we walked over to the original Durty Nelly's for lunch. For some, it was the first time they'd ever had the famous "fish and chips". Kayla K. said it was "soooo good" and Jessica W. raved that it was "delicious" :) Once everyone had paid for their food, we boarded the bus and headed to check into our next place: Killarney Court Hotel. 

Enjoying lunch at Durty Nelly's

We had some time to get ready for the concert, then headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Some of the menu choices included potato leek soup (hey, kaufman serves that!), chicken wrapped in bacon, and chocolate fudge cake. It was very good. :) We had a quick minute to change into our dresses, then were whisked away to St. Mary's Church of Ireland for our evening concert.

The church, which was beyond beautiful in looks, also had a beautiful sound to it when we sang. We had an incredibly responsive audience tonight. Each cutoff was met with a "wow" or a "yes!" They seemed to really be enjoying themselves. We had the pleasure of meeting a couple from Naperville who were staying in the hotel next door. They just happened to make friends with an awesome lady (and our new biggest fan), Candy, who was planning on going to our concert. It really is a small world. :)

The tour group at St. Mary's Church
Today was a busy day once again, but it was a great one. The concert was inspiring to many of the audience members. One man told us he was touched by "Untraveled Worlds". He had mentioned the text, from Tennyson's "Ulysses", in his high school graduation speech 60 years ago. It is truly amazing to see how music touches everyone in a different way. 

As always, thank you for following our blog. It means so much to us that you all are invested in this trip and in our group. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we miss and love you all! 

"and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand"