Tag Archives: music

Piping in D-Day

Bill Millin, piper at the D-Day landings, died on August 17th, aged 88

ANY reasonable observer might have thought Bill Millin was unarmed as he jumped off the landing ramp at Sword Beach, in Normandy, on June 6th 1944. Unlike his colleagues, the pale 21-year-old held no rifle in his hands. Of course, in full Highland rig as he was, he had his trusty skean dhu, his little dirk, tucked in his right sock. But that was soon under three feet of water as he waded ashore, a weary soldier still smelling his own vomit from a night in a close boat on a choppy sea, and whose kilt in the freezing water was floating prettily round him like a ballerina’s skirt.

But Mr Millin was not unarmed; far from it. He held his pipes, high over his head at first to keep them from the wet (for while whisky was said to be good for the bag, salt water wasn’t), then cradled in his arms to play. And bagpipes, by long tradition, counted as instruments of war. An English judge had said so after the Scots’ great defeat at Culloden in 1746; a piper was a fighter like the rest, and his music was his weapon.

Fabhalscéal as Gaeilge/A fable in Irish

Our assignment for today was to write a fable as Gaeilge. I cannot come up with any kind of original story even in English. However, one of the vocabulary suggestions reminded me of an Eric Bogle song. I thought the secret for success in mathematics should also work in Irish.


Bhí cat duine éigin ar thaobh an bhótair. Bhí an cat marbh agus an-plánach. Ní chuimhin sé na dlíthe bóthair mór. Is cat duine ar bith é anois.

Ná conspóid le trucail. Tá an trucail cinnte a bhuachan.

Somebody’s cat was by the side of the road. The cat was dead and very flat. He did not remember the laws of the highway. He is nobody’s cat now.

Don’t argue with a truck. The truck is sure to win.

This is obviously much shorter than the song, and the vocabulary is fairly basic. “Decapitating Tweety-birds and masticating mice” will have to wait.

Fabhalscéal as Gaeilge/A fable in Irish

Our assignment for today was to write a fable as Gaeilge. I cannot come up with any kind of original story even in English. However, one of the vocabulary suggestions reminded me of an Eric Bogle song. I thought the secret for success in mathematics should also work in Irish.


Bhí cat duine éigin ar thaobh an bhótair. Bhí an cat marbh agus an-plánach. Ní chuimhin sé na dlíthe bóthair mór. Is cat duine ar bith é anois.

Ná conspóid le trucail. Tá an trucail cinnte a bhuachan.

Somebody’s cat was by the side of the road. The cat was dead and very flat. He did not remember the laws of the highway. He is nobody’s cat now.

Don’t argue with a truck. The truck is sure to win.

This is obviously much shorter than the song, and the vocabulary is fairly basic. “Decapitating Tweety-birds and masticating mice” will have to wait.

Norm Pellegrini, R.I.P.

mia_mcdavid is in Chicagoland this weekend, and called me with the news.

Norman Pellegrini: In Memoriam
The Last Great Oak Falls – Norm Pellegrini is dead

My family moved to Chicago in 1957, when I was 6 years old. I lived there and considered it home until mia_mcdavid and I moved to Minnesota in 1998. Throughout those 41 years WFMT, the Midnight Special and Norm Pellegrini were an important part of my life.

Irish Class–Monday Night, March 2, 2009

Irish Class, March 2, 2009

Rang Gaeilge, 2ú lá mí Márta 2009

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Fadas: áéíóúÁÉÍÓÚ

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Am coigilte sholas na lae an 8ú lá Márta.
Daylight Savings Time on March 8.

Am time m3
coigilt saving f2 /keg’il’tə/ (Wes), /kog’əl’t’/ (FP)
solas light m1

Wes suggested that we look at Raidió Rí-Rá. The site
has some Irish text with sound files of it being read aloud by native speakers.

The plan to have our March 16 class at Merlins Rest is still
on. Wes and Mary are thinking about some exercise involving numbers. Open Mic there starts at 8PM.
This could be either a challenge or an opportunity :-)>

Listening exercise

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Spring is coming!

It was actually just above freezing in downtown Minneapolis today, and I varied my skyway walk by going outside for a few blocks (without a coat). On Nicollet Mall I saw someone casting breadcrumbs on the sidewalk for the birds, and I felt the urge to burst into song (Lyrics here).

Of course, it is all a snare and a delusion. This is Minnesota. On the way home I heard a weather forecast for 6-7 inches of snow on Thursday.