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A Visit to an Irish 'Rambling House'

by Jacki Lyden
Dec 24, 2006 (All Things Considered)

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Ireland's economy is booming through high-tech endeavors, a development that has brought many who left the Emerald Isle back, attracted immigrants to a nation once famous for its exodus and helped tourism flourish.

But the new climate has put pressure on rural traditions which Irish people — and their visitors — have long prized.

In recent years, in County Kerry, a tradition known as the "rambling house" has been revived. In times past, a rambling house was regularly organized to provide residents of a province or even a small city a venue for entertainment: song, recitations, stories, and jokes.

I went to Ireland with my husband, Will O'Leary, last year.

The rambling house we visited is in Brosna, County Kerry, near Castleisland.

It is held throughout the year, but on this night, many people had come back for the holidays from other parts of Ireland or America. The songs of the older people were all about having to leave Ireland behind, which was once a fact of life.

But there is also dancing, fiddling and other traditional music, particuarly Sliabh Luachara — "Rushy Mountain" — symbolizing a kind of rural, traditional fiddling, provided here by 16-year-old Donal Cullinane.

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