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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Why we do this: a musical tribute to the Irish landscape

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 17, 2010

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Lovers of music and the landscape, this is for you.  Well, and for myself, since I truly love what I'm about to share.

I originally came to environmentalism, and eventually to smart growth and urbanism, from the conservation side.  I grew up in the North Carolina mountains and would not, and will not, abide their destruction.  Now I'm a dedicated city boy, and wouldn't have it otherwise, but for me there is no dissonance:  the survival of the natural and rural landscape in the face of growth is utterly dependant on smart, livable urbanism.

The science and the law and the transportation data and the emissions and all that came later.  Much later.  Without the spiritual underpinning, the raison d'etre, there's no way I could suffer all the policy details.

Which brings me to today, Saint Paddy's.  I have enjoyed beautiful landscapes far and wide, but none moves me more than that of western Ireland.  Here, to the accompaniment of some of my very favorite Irish musicians, is a sampling of some of the best.

First up are the mighty Saw Doctors, from Tuam, County Galway.  They may be my favorite band from anywhere.  The song is about County Mayo, next door to Galway:


If you prefer things a bit more traditional and folkie, here's Mary Black, who comes from a great family of Irish musicians.  The music is "Song for Ireland," written by Phil and June Colclough:


Finally, and musically a bit in between the first two, is the majestic "Homes of Donegal," written by Sean MacBride and performed by the great Paul Brady.  The visual sequence shows the County's traditional, walkable towns and villages:


For me, this is pure inspiration, and not just for environmentalism.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.


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Lee EpsteinMar 17 2010 02:15 PM

This wonderful music and the lovely landscapes bring this lad back to a trip through western Ireland in 1981. "Sprawl" was represented then in cows per acre, and "traffic jams" were mostly caused by the occasional creamery trailer, crawling along a one-lane country road. "Runoff" was a bit more head than proper, skimmed off the top of a pour of good stout.

But that was then.....

Kaid @ NRDCMar 17 2010 04:22 PM

Compared to here, it's still pretty wonderful!

Barbara McCannMar 17 2010 10:47 PM

And I'm just coming from Savannah, Georgia, best known for two things: the square-studded cityscape that makes New Urbanists swoon, and the St. Paddy's Day celebration (2nd largest in the US) that features a huge parade through the city (followed by lots of drinking). Can this be a coincidence?

It is grand that the Institute of Transportation Engineers chose this place and time for their Sustainability conference!

Luck of the Irish to you!

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