Lovers of music and literature have a rare treat to look forward to over the coming St. Patrick's weekend.
The innovative music appreciation and concert-organising group, Classical Covies, will be presenting a delightful concert, which will be exclusive to Westport. This will be a glimpse into the imagination of James Joyce through the music and song referred to in profusion throughout his writings.
The event takes place on Friday, March 18, at 8 p.m. and, as with previous concerts, the venue will be the Wyatt Hotel at the Octagon. Tickets are obtainable from the hotel reception or from Classical Covies members.
Says Liam Lyons, chairman of Classical Covies: "We are delighted to have pulled off something of a major scoop in getting David Norris, who, among his many other accomplishments, is one of the leading international Joycean scholars, to introduce the evening and do the commentary on each of the varied songs in his own inimitable way.
"He is a hugely entertaining and knowledgeable raconteur, so the characters Joyce writes about will come to life through the songs he uses to flesh them out."
To perform a programme of song in the style of the period, the organisers are pleased to have Virginia Kerr (soprano) and Gavan Ring (baritone), with Una Hunt providing the piano accompaniment.
Both Virginia and Una are no strangers to Westport, Una having been here as recently as last autumn in a programme designed around the life of Chopin.
James Joyce was himself a fine tenor, and had a lifelong passion for music. He was acutely aware of and sensitive to the vibrant musical life of early 20th century Dublin in all its forms - operatic, music-hall, drawingroom, and pub and street ballads.
As we have all experienced, a snatch of a song can be a powerful influence in calling up the past, or colouring a person in reminiscence. This is precisely what Joyce does through the often oblique musical allusions which lurk within the texts of such celebrated modernist fiction as Ulysses, Dubliners, Finnegan's Wake and the rest of his work.
As Michael Murphy of Classical Covies suggests: "This will be 'Joyce without tears', and an enjoyable way to approach him again. Who knows, many of us may be encouraged to pick up again on Ulysses from where we left off years ago!"
There is already a lot of interest in this concert, which is expected to be a sell-out. It will certainly be a must-see for many of the visitors staying in Westport for the St. Patrick's weekend.
The participation of David Norris will no doubt be a major attraction, particularly as he generously is giving his time at the end of a busy week for him in which he will officially launch his candidacy for the office of President of Ireland.