I’m a true Canadian mutt. My Montreal-born, French-speaking father, Bill, was the son of a red-haired Irishman (the first generation Canadian, Bill Kinnon – his parents being the Irish immigrants, William and Mary Kinnon ) and an English Jew, Lillianne Spilman. My father only spoke English to his mother – his schooling was in French and almost all of his friends were French-speaking.
My mother is an Elliott from the northern tip of Newfoundland of Scots/English heritage. My parents met on a Royal Canadian Air Force training base during the 2nd World War. (My mother left Newfoundland to come to Canada to join the RCAF – as NFLD did not become part of Canada until 1949.)
I’m an Air Force brat who grew up on bases in Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, France and Germany. I started grade school in Nova Scotia and identified la Nouvelle Ecosse as my true home for most of my childhood. (I moved to Europe in November of 1963 and came back to Canada in the summer of ’68.) The song “Farewell to Nova Scotia” would make me cry as child – done well, it probably still could. (I found lots of awful renditions on YouTube.)
All of this to say that there are both geographical and genetic reasons for my love for the music of the Celts. (The sound of bag pipes will always thrill me – whilst it scares the stuffing out of many other folk – no doubt the original intent.)
I’ve been a fan of Natalie McMaster for years. Down East (which is how we describe the Atlantic Provinces) they pronounce her name Nat-lee. Natalie is married to Donnell Leahy, best known as the lead fiddler in the Leahy family band. (Call to Dance is still one of my favourite tunes. The Irish dancing at the end simply blows my mind.)
As an avid TED Talks viewer, I was pleasantly surprised to see this video on the site this morning. And I must share it with you. Natalie McMaster and her husband, Donnell Leahy. (Even if readers and dear friends on the Verdant Green Isle do not care for Celtic music. Perhaps I can convince Rylan to do some step dancing whilst he’s with you this weekend.)