Ceara Conway Brings Traditional Irish Laments to the Opera House in Marlinton

Ceara Conway is very excited to finally be in Pocahontas County.

“Hugely, for so many reasons! The culture is completely different, the nature, the wildlife.  And I was saying to Brynn yesterday I went up on the mountain for a walk and I started singing out loud.  I never do that! I sing to myself in the house, but rarely do I sing outside.”

“And I think it’s because societally you’re around other people or the public and unless you’re on a professional performing platform you don’t sing. But you have to sing in the mountains; it felt like the most natural thing in the world, I felt like a bird.”

She had been scheduled to appear at the Pocahontas County Opera House back in 2020….which was of course, right before the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down most of the world.   Her native Ireland went into lockdown and although she could have traveled to the states, she was not sure if she could’ve returned. So, travel plans were put on hold.  Happily, she’ll be able to perform that long-postponed concert this Saturday, April 23rd. She hails from the west coast of Ireland.

“It’s a place called Carroroe which means the red quarter because the land is really red.  But it’s the west coast and it’s very rural and beside the sea.”

She talks about the music she’ll be performing this Saturday.

“So, on Saturday I’m going to be performing Caoin [Queen] which is the name of my album.  The frame for the album is laments, particulary Irish traditional laments.  There are instructional laments for when somebody dies in the community, a lot of tragedy related laments, but also very powerful political laments.”

“And people don’t normally think of lullabies as laments, but in the Irish tradition, sometimes you’ll hear the narrator warning the fairies not to take away their child. And I have found upon deeper research that it’s a code. Some of these songs were written during the famine times, so it was [about] not wanting your child to die [of starvation]. So when your child died, they would say the fairies had taken your child away – that was their way of understanding things.”

Two local musicians, Erica Marks on cello and Jake Hyre on violin will join Ceara on the Opera House stage.

She had hoped to work with Pocahontas County students while she was here, but with schools on spring break this week, those lessons will have to happen on zoom.  One thing she knows for sure – she’s already planning a return trip to Pocahontas.

“I would love to bring some musicians over with me next time and that we could find a way of collaborating with musicians here, that would be exciting.”

Ceara Conway will be performing at the Pocahontas County Opera House Saturday, April 23rd at 7:30pm. Tickets are available at the Opera House and at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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