It's About Ireland

What can you ride to in Claremont? That is a question I posed at least once previously, I believe in reference to some event that I noticed far too many locals driving to, when they could more easily have ridden.

Well, last night, and in reference to that very same question, you could have ridden to the Sligo Rags concert at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The Rags may be best known as the "house band" at California Adventure, but I saw them first a number of years ago in the Village. I am not one to pass up an opportunity for an evening show when some Irish music is involved. Looking around the audience I realized that I was counted among one of the younger folk in attendance, and that maybe it was a good idea that not too many others chose to drive, rather than ride. Of course that statement is merely a sad reflection of how our transportation network has developed in this country - favoring cars over anything else. Some of those older attendees had a clear gleam in their eye when they saw the mrs. and I roll up on our bikes. I am sure many of those people around us could have, and eagerly would have, ridden to the concert under more favorable circumstances.

Anyway, some point into the bands' second set, the mrs. turned to me and admitted that she had no idea what the previous song was about. The theme was clear to me, but then I have spent years cramming my head full of Irish culture, so full that there was never any room for espanol or francaise or algebra or other things that might have been useful in life. That led me to wonder how many others likewise had no idea. She, and they, heard the woes of an old woman with four green fields, strong sons, strife and death, hunger with hope at the end. The song "Four Green Fields" is, of course, a metaphor about Ireland - the old women, Eire herself; the four fields including one overrun, Ireland's four provinces, one of which has long been in the hands of the invader. It is a melancholy song that ends with a line of hope: "My fourth green field (Ulster) will bloom once again said she."

As I listened to the next couple of drinking songs (you can't really end a show like this with a song like The Four Green Fields), I began to realize that if a person had one pint too many and gave a good, almost-painful squint to their eyes, they could see that the sentiment of the song is a lot like bicycling - the strife, deaths, the invader, good people leading the fight for their place, their home. It is all there. Even the hope at the end.