Headlining at the Spiegeltent on Thursday night last as part of the Pan Celtic Festival, singer and musician Declan O’Rourke regaled his audience with a story of his love of caves.
Before playing the song ‘Sketch of a cave near Mitchelstown’ Declan took his audience on a lyrical, anecdotal ramble through his cave experiences in the past couple of years in France and Ireland.
“Do you have any caves up here? You do? You have caves up here, great...I have been studying caves this last few years and I have developed a mild fascination with caves,” he said.
“I love nature anyway, but I found myself in France a couple of years ago and I had some time off, so I went to see a site called Lascaux, which is the oldest known example of cave art... and what a place that was. I saw another few things around the same area which is the hot spot of caves in Europe or the World...and they really treasure their history.
“It all came back to me, all that geography stuff, stalactites and all that, and we are in a bit of a cave now, aren’t we? This is great!
“But, if they had any kind of a structure that was over a flood plain or anything like that they had it all fenced off and you could not get near it. It was very sacred and they were at pains to explain to use that if you touch one of these things that the oils in your skin would start to decay thousands of years of nature’s work, you know? So I came home here again, and just near where I live is a place call the Aillwee Caves, so we went to see that and it was beautiful,” he said, continuing: “It was very cool, and interestingly me to at least, no one else seems to get a kick out of it, but the Lascaux caves in France were discovered by a group of teenage boys out walking their dog one day and the dog went missing. They found his tail sticking out of a hole and they pulled him out and they heard these little rocks trickling down and hitting the bottom, echoing, you know? Brilliant! The dog discovered the cave!
But the one in Clare was only discovered one year apart from that one, by a man walking his dog. I think that’s amazing.”
Strumming his guitar, Declan continued: “That’s not what this next song is about, by the way... but getting to the point, I was asked last year to play in a cave. They tried to get rid of me, bury me 300 feet underground. This cave is on the border somewhere Cork and Tipperary, so I just called this song ‘Sketch of a cave near Mitchelstown’.
“The one thing I noticed about this cave when i walked in was that they had these giant pillars, you know? They were wider than five men, I don’t know. I don’t know how many millions of years it took to make these things.
“I wrote this song to try and hope to appreciate what a precious place it is and how sacred. People came to Ireland or have been walking round Ireland for 9,000 years or so, but it is the blink of an eye...how long is that cave there? I don’t know.
Joking, he added: “I hope that they close it now, so that I am the last songwriter to ever play there.”
Click on the video attached to get a flavour of Declan’s song inspired by his cave visits...