A celebration of the River Dodder

left: Event organiser Glenda Cimino right: Waylon Gary White Deer, Choctaw artist. Images by Kathrin Kobus

A free event for Heritage Week 2017 took place recently on the 19th and 20th of August.

It was presented by the Beaver Row Heritage Players and organised by Glenda Cimino.
Artists, musicians, poets and pets gathered in Donnybrook, at the beautiful Beaver Row footbridge that spans the river Dodder to celebrate the importance of the water. The group partook of a meditation walk along the bank towards the weir below Ashton’s in Clonskeagh, stopping at points to listen to original songs and prose and to witness a river blessing.

Katie McLoughlin and Marie Mooney kicked off the event with some traditional music in the sunshine. The theme of the walk was nature and celebrating it and people. So actors James Martinez and Derek O’Shaughnessy read stories about the history surrounding the river, focusing on the Easter Rising, notable floods, drownings and daring rescues.

Catherine Ann Cullen sang her song penned just for the event ‘A Donder on the Dodder’ right next to the sounds of the rippling water. Jason McDonnell also sang ‘Down by the River’ by Neil Young, which attracted a few more people to join our group and wander along with us.

Musicians Marie Mooney, fiddle and Katie McLoughlin, mandolin; Images by Kathrin Kobus

Glenda Cimino, the artistic director explained how this year’s walking event was different to last year’s performances, which focused on the centenary of 1916. “Each year we have expanded, the first year we did it in my house at Beaver Row, the second year we did it around Donnybrook, altogether we got about forty people on each of our walks last year. And then this year we have expanded in a different way by offering people an opportunity to put forward original songs and original poems and that was a lovely experience, a lot of people got in touch and wanted to participate. And I think Catherine Ann Cullen is particularly talented, she is a wonderful poet and her songs are just amazing.”

The walk culminated in a Choctaw river blessing performed by Waylon White Deer and a dance on the small beach at the weir. Waylon has a connection to Ireland from over a hundred years ago. The people of the Choctaw nation collected a sum of 170 dollars in famine relief and donated it the to the Irish people in 1847, an amazing amount of money for the time.
Waylon had brought a pouch of tobacco from his home state of Oklahoma which everyone touched and infused with respectful thoughts of the river. Then as he threw the blessed tobacco into the river a heron flew down and rested on the rocks of the weir to watch, perhaps to let the group know that the blessing was received with good will!

by Jessica Ellis