Episode 17. The Music From Long Ago



Matthew Squires and The Learning Disorders – The Heretical Physics


Borrtex – The Bright Morning Star [Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International]

Partial transcript of James Jennings’ story. Full version found here.

Story Transcript:

Memories themselves are powerful, moving things. They are the stories that hold life of their own. 

Sometimes, when memories are so strong, we pass them on to other things in the hope that we can translate them to other people, to connect. We do so through music, through poetry, through the stories we tell on a daily basis and we even share our memories on social media. These memories are happiest moments in our life, with the saddest. They are embarrassing and they are what we can laugh together with. They connect us.

And when you get in touch with that old friend you haven’t seen in some time, you’re acting on memory of something great, or happy or sad – it’s the connection that matters.

But sometimes memories are so strong that they stick around for who knows how long, certainly not of their own volition but the will of something else.

This story is about music. This music is built into stone. The recollections of many people across Ireland have kept these memories and music alive.

A Mr. Jennings recounted at the age of 97 that ‘the music long ago differed much from the music of the present day’. See him as a boy in a small, closed community village in County Mayo. Everyone was able to play the flute or the violin and the gramophone hadn’t been invented yet. In this moment in time, if you could hum a melody well, you were musical. A melody hummed by a particularly talented individual would incite others to join with their flutes and their violins and, if they were lucky, with the pipes.

They would gather at a neighbours house, the humming would begin and the instruments would follow. This was the memory that he recounted with pure, heart-lifting happiness in his late 90s. 

He would hear it again. The night he passed in his 98th year, he heard the music clearly. It was coming from the fort nearby, he told his family. The last moments of his life were pure euphoria, reliving the music of his youth.

Now look at this fort. To anyone passing by, it was nothing special. It was just a ring of stone in the middle of a field. Home to birds, to bats and to mice, it had weeds growing between the cracks. It was a 3 meter high ring of stone, nothing more. But it was over 2000 years old, so officially – it did have a name. Kilcashel Fort.

It also had memories. And music.

Not just for Mr. Jennings – but others heard their own music.

Some say a white cat is seen minding the fort, and others say they see light coming from it. Now, I’m not talking about an alien, bright beaming light – but a soft homely glow, as if the fort was inviting company toward it and that it was safe. And for most, it was safe. There are many recollections of sounds and music which brought people to the core of their being. The song that brings tears to your eyes, the song that brings you back to that moment you had with your mother which made you see how human she was, the song that showed your father’s fragility and the song that tells your love for the one you spend your nights with, or the one you yearn to spend your life with. 

These can be heard here, it is said. And it is said that it will always play the right music.

It will bring you back to the most powerful memories, when you need them most. 

There are other forts in Ireland, reported to have similar effects. But the music from long ago, held in Kilcashel Fort, sings the word hope.

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