Suzzanne, Siobhan, Kath, Caroline, Noreen, Irene, Ann, Pauline, Maureen, Geraldine and I got together tonight in The White Swan in Digbeth, Birmingham to celebrate the annual Irishwomen’s celebration, Nollaig na mBan, also known as Little Christmas. We told each other a bit about ourselves, mentioned our various connections to Ireland, talked a little about our families and friends, had a few sandwiches and sausage rolls and then we sang songs – The Fields of Athenry, Slievenamon, The Mountains of Mourne, The Wild Rover, I’ll Tell Me Ma, The Galway Shawl, The Connemara Cradle Song, Hear My Song and an old favourite, Make me an island (Joe Dolan). Suzzanne provided some accompaniment, improvising some drumbeats with a few teaspoons and Maureen also gave us a spoons demo, this time with 2 dessert spoons.
I’ve been friends with Caroline and Kath for years, and Pauline and I have become friends more recently, but all the other women were new faces to me and each other. I’d only met Noreen before on Twitter, and I have recently befriended Siobhan that way, so it could have been an awkward evening. It wasn’t. It’s amazing what can happen from a bit of friendliness and some shared cultural background. Irene, Ann and Geraldine had heard about the event on the Bob Brolly show on BBCWM yesterday, and they came along on the strength of that and a small mention in the Evening Mail.
I think it’s true to say that a great night was had by all, and the spot prizes were won (more ‘awarded’) to Noreen who had travelled the farthest to get to the event, and Maureen who had encouraged us to start the singing.
We’ve agreed to get together again for St Brigid’s Day on Sat Feb 1st – we’re going to Tamworth to shop at the Dunnes Stores there – that’ll be another blog post!