By Tom O'Gorman
Liam O’ Flynn has gone to God. A return journey for the brilliant artistic genius of the ancient Irish pipes played for millennia on an arm bellow(uilleann pipes). He was the star of many great musical ensembles, none better than when he recorded Sean Davey’s “Brendan Voyage,” the musical poetry that charts Brendan, the sea-faring Saint and monk, across the Atlantic in the 9th century via oxhide boat. Yes, he and his monks reached what is today Newfoundland, making it to North America before any other Europeans. Liam O’Flynn has been Ireland’s most accomplished piper for decades, reconnecting the Irish people to our most ancient sounds and harmonies.
When I first heard him playing the Brendan voyage on a CD, I could not stop listening. It lifted me to ecstasy, history, pride and glory. How many flights to Ireland from Chicago have I listened to it on my head sets in the darkened cabin of an Aer Lingus jet?
A number of years ago at the Irish Fellowship St. Patrick’s Dinner, we had begun to eat when suddenly I realized that the sound of the familiar music I was hearing was none other than Liam O’Flynn, himself. I had not known that he was the evening’s excellent entertainment.
Now he has continued that journey his lifetime of music shaped. Reuniting him with Blessed Brendan and the boatload of pious priests and monks who journeyed over the Atlantic swells and rough salt waves toward the land of promise that would later change Irish peoples’ lives forever. Liam O’Flynn was a gentle and gracious lover of his people’s music. His commitment to its ancient perfection altered the poetry of our lives. Give some thanks to God for making and sharing him. And now bringing him safely back to himself in peace.
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By Tom O'Gorman