March 2, 2023
His Hometown Derry neighbors gathered in October 2022 as Phil Coulter sang his Derry Anthem, The Town I Love So Well
The month of Saint Patrick is here at last. Boston’s Irish stay connected with many events throughout the year, at the Irish Cultural Centre, the Irish Pastoral Centre, the Rian Center for Immigrants, and gatherings at pubs and parishes, where we celebrate and sustain the Irish heritage. This month, there are many more places where celebrations of Irish culture are on tap. See Sean Smith’s Boston comprehensive Irish Arts Calendar listings on Pages 18 and 19.
Bostonians are 3,000 miles away and five hours behind our ancestral island, but the distances of place and time are continually shortened by new ways to keep in contact with Ireland. As the cost of telephonic connections have become affordable, many stay in touch with family via traditional phone calls and social media video chats. The computer network Skype offers rates of less than two cents a minute, and subscribers can call phones in Ireland for 400 minutes a month for $6.99. T-Mobile offers unlimited phone calls for $15, and other cellphone carriers offer similar prices.
Irish broadcasts can be tuned in on computers and smartphones. The daily TV newscasts are livestreamed via the RTÉ Player app, and 24-hour radio broadcasts can be heard live on the RTÉ Radio app.
One bountiful source of Ireland-produced content is the video service YouTube. I recently enjoyed a stirring Phil Coulter video recorded last October at the 2022 City of Derry International Festival. In an outdoor setting before thousands of that city’s residents, Coulter performed his hauntingly beautiful anthem, “The Town I Love So Well.” The song, poignant and beautiful, is even more powerful with the sight and sound of the teary-eyed townspeople joining the chorus:
“With their tanks and their guns, oh my God what have they done
To the town I loved so well …
For what's done is done and what's won is won
And what's lost is lost and gone forever
I can only pray for a bright, brand, new day
In the town I loved so well.”