I first saw and heard this lovely lady performing with Scartaglen in the old Hollywood Theatre in Leavenworth, Kansas. Until that night I had never heard of Connie Dover but after hearing her sing, I would never forget her. The performance was part of a fund raiser for the Leavenworth St. Patrick's Day Parade. The sounds that night made my Irish roots take a firm hold of my heart. Connie was born in Arkansas and raised in Kansas City, MO. She began her career with Scartaglen and progressed from there. She has made several TV appearances and produced several albums/Cd's, Including: Somebody; The Wishing Well; If Ever I Return and The Border of Heaven. She has won 1 Emmy for acoustic music for the KCPT production of Bad Blood: The Border War That Triggered the Civil War. Connie has won many other awards and has had many wonderful reviews like this one - "Connie Dover is the finest folk ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez . . . Her soprano is shimmeringly pure, her phrasing pristine, her evocations of ancient Anglo-Scottish, Irish and American cowboy ballads melodically exquisite and utterly believable." - Boston Globe. Connie can be heard locally at various venues but I look forward to her Sunday afternoon performance annually at the Weston Irishfest. Her amazing voice can take you through a range of emotions from sadness to joy. What a gift. Listen to a sample of her work on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRBzZZk20NE
Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-Nah-Saw) is the Gaelic harvest festival, which has been celebrated throughout the Celtic lands since ancient times. It is traditionally celebrated midway through the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. According to Wikipedia, Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (most notably the Tailteann Games), feasting, matchmaking and trading. There were also visits to holy wells. According to folklorist Máire MacNeill, evidence shows that the religious rites included an offering of the 'first fruits', a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight. Much of the activities would have taken place on top of hills and mountains. Lughnasadh customs persisted widely until the 20th century, with the event being variously named 'Garland Sunday', 'Bilberry Sunday', 'Mountain Sunday' and 'Crom Dubh Sunday'. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage. The best known is the 'Reek Sunday' pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in July. A number of fairs are also believed to be survivals of Lughnasadh, for example the Puck Fair. Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans have observed Lughnasadh, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. In some places, elements of the festival have been revived as a cultural event. Lughnasadh is also known as Bilberry Sunday, Blueberry Sunday, Crom Dubh Sunday, and Garland Sunday, and can be celebrated anytime between the middle of July and the end of August. Berry picking is a traditional part of Lughnasadh and legend holds that if there is a plentiful crop, then the rest of the harvest will also be plentiful. Another Lughnasadh or Garland Sunday tradition is the making of garlands and wreaths, which are then placed around all of the Holy Wells in Ireland, honoring the patron saints. So how can you celebrate the Lughnasadh Festival? However you want! Bake a pie, dig in the garden, relax around a fire or decorate your home with flowers. However you choose to honor this tradition, we wish you a happy and bountiful summer!
The Puck Fair in Ireland is one of the island's oldest festivals thought to date back to the 4th century and was originally part of the Celtic harvest festival, Lughnasa. From Slate.com "During this ancient celebration, a wild male goat (known as a puck) is crowned king of the town for three days before being returned to his normal life in the Irish hills, his royalty all but ignored by his fellow goats. The festival begins each year on Aug. 10, when the captured goat is brought to the town square where he is crowned by the “Queen of Puck,” who is not another goat, but a young girl from the town. His worldly station raised, “King Puck” is then put in a cage on a high scaffold where he may survey his kingdom for the duration of the festival. The bars are allowed to stay open extra-late during the fair, so his majesty generally gets to see some drunkenness. At the end of the three days, the king goat is deposed and led back to into the wilderness." -Sounds like fun, right? The Puck Fair is celebrating 403 years of documented festivals and although some animal welfare groups have called for an end of the tradition of crowing the goat king, the festival, which runs from August 10-12, is more popular than ever with more than 10,000 people gathering in the small town of Killorglin for the festivities. The first day of Puck Fair is called The Gathering and includes the Coronation Ceremony. The Goat King and the Maiden Queen are paraded through town, before being crowned, kicking off 3 days of festivities. The Gathering is also the oldest running horse fair in Ireland. People travel from all over the country to show, buy and sell horses and tack. Photo by dochara.com[/caption] The second day of Puck Fair is called Fair day and it's a full blown carnival complete with cotton candy, crafts, and a Cattle Fair. The third day is called The Scattering. The Goat King is lead back up the mountain to rejoin his herd and is followed by a grand parade. The festivities conclude with a massive fireworks display. I think that we can all agree that if you're going to be in Ireland in August, you're going to go the The Puck Festival, right? It's not every day that you can meet a goat king.