Showing posts from June, 2007

More Fun at the Fair

As some of you know, if a person makes a complaint about something or someone at a feis, he or she is able to file a formal complaint with the feis.
Normally one writes out the infraction and then includes
some nominal fee say, for instance, $10.00.

Now in addition to the irate parent I highlighted in my last post, it has come to my attention that another complaint was filed. Apparently one of the dancers didn't care too particularly well for one of the tunes I played for him. His formal complaint is that I played a reel tainted with Scottish influence. As this is a competition for traditional Irish dancers, he has charged that I impeded his ability to execute his dainty steps by not playing fully traditional Irish music. You can see my accuser pictured here.

As I said, at a normal feis one would just submit a check and a written complaint and the complainer would feel like he/she had been listened to and the feis would be satisfied with an extra $10.00. Well, this …

Oh The Places You'll Go!

The title of the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You'll Go certainly seems to capture well the life of a Jesuit. Two summers ago we took a road trip to Denver where we studied Jesuit history for a month. One year ago at this time I was in Lima, Peru studying Spanish and learning to see the presence of God in a third-world milieu. This summer, I'm studying German in Chicago. While this summer may seem far less glamorous than my previous two, I now have pictorial evidence to the contrary.

As many of you know, I play the accordion for Irish dancers. Last Monday I received a desperate phone call asking me to come out to Irvine, California to play at an Irish dancing competition. Never one to turn down a trip across the country, I accepted the invitation and I played both Saturday and Sunday at the Feis at the Fair. So what made this event extraordinary?


I spend much of my day in the same position:

You can tell by the look of studied concentration on my face that I am thinki…

Mired in Verbs

My "German for Reading Knowledge" course began yesterday and I've already spent many hours cramming German verbs and grammatical structures into my brain. It'll be a challenging course of studies, I reckon, but I am pretty confident that my ability to read German will increase exponentially over these next few weeks.

I haven't any idea as to how often I'll be able to update this blog. I'm going to go to California this weekend to play at a feis, so I need to be very diligent with my German so that I can lose two days of studying in order to travel/play. I hadn't planned on attending this feis but the organizer is down a musician and can't find anyone else to play. So, I'm going to sacrifice myself by going to LA for a weekend. It's a rough life, I know.

Another Weekend Away

This weekend I'll be playing at the Chicago Feis (held at Gaelic Park) and then I'll move into the Jesuit Community located in Hyde Park, IL. As many of you know, on Monday I will begin an intensive 5-week course in "German for Reading" so that, when all is said and done, I'll be able to read Karl Rahner, SJ in his native tongue.

Since I don't have a public site-counter running on this site, I thought I might mention that we've had nearly 1,000 visitors each day since I posted my (now infamous?) letter. I'd just like to share a few brief thoughts:

First, thank you to all who have commented here. I am glad that my observations and sentiments are striking a chord with many of you. I tried to be as fair and as balanced as possible while still trying to say something. I'm glad, then, to know that what I said has resonated with the experience of many.

Second, I am aware of the (inconsequential) discussion that has taken place on The Irish Dancing Message …

A Letter to the Irish Dancing Community

As many of the people who read my blog are affiliated with Irish dancing, I would like to take this opportunity to address them directly. While the aim of this missive is to express some of my thoughts on the current state of Irish dancing, I suspect that other readers will be able to expand its scope to include other areas of life.

Dear Parents and Teachers of Irish Dancers,

It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as a feis musician for nearly ten years. Beginning with local feiseanna while in high school, I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over the United States and Canada providing music for your dancers. After entering the Society of Jesus in 2004, it was my fear that I'd be unable to continue playing. Fortunately, my religious superiors have encouraged me to share my love of Irish music and have, consequently, allowed me out to play again. This last year in particular has found me playing both at feiseanna run by old friends - a chance to spend time wit…

Enormous Apologies

I'm leaving in 30 minutes for Province Days, so I have to be very brief.

It seems that many readers have emailed me using an address. THe only trouble is that I didn't realize that I had such an address. I have dunsryan "at" that I use for this blog, but I suspect many people figured I used both.

If you have written me over the last year and didn't receive a response, I am very very sorry. On a lark I opened the mailbox to my account only to discover that many had written me. I will do my best to respond to the many emails sent.

Karen, I know understand why you thought I was ignorning you! For all future reference and to ensure that you get a reply, I invite anyone who needs to do so to write me EITHER at the Yahoo address or RyanDuns "AT"

Many Apologies!


Shame on Me

Well, I'll admit that I'm a glutton for punishment. As you can see from the post below, I had an awful experience two weeks ago when I went the the school mass at my local parish. In light of my comments below, it'll probably come as a shock to many of you that I returned there this morning. In truth, I'd not have gone there had it not been my sister's graduation mass.

I sat in a new location - toward the rear of the church, providing me with a fine vantage point from whence to take the whole affair in. I'd quibble with the selection and pacing of the music (funeral dirges) but my real bugbear is with the vocalists. Instead of recognizing and embracing human (and vocal) finitude, the organist and cantor imagined themselves to be Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram as they crooned out the Gloria. It was brilliantly comical as I they tried to weave back and forth. The result of the weaving, however, was a tangle of melody and words that left me wondering whether to co…