Every summer, Bay Path University’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction writing offers a weeklong Writing Seminar based in Dingle, a town nestled on the Atlantic coast on the western shore of County Kerry, Ireland.
Each day throughout the week, Seminar Facilitator Suzanne Strempek Shea gives participants a prompt to encourage writers to investigate new ideas and topics in their writing. During August 2020, we’ll publish our Emerald Blogs to showcase the diverse work developed from responses to Suzanne’s prompts.
Words & Music by Clifton “Jerry” Noble
Down Brandon was begun on the first night of our first Ireland writing seminar in July 2017. The town of Dingle was shrouded in gray clouds and sheets of rain. The turbulence of the storm sweeping down the slope of Mount Brandon (seen from the safety of our guest-house window) slipped easily into words and music. As the week went on, new experiences and memories made in Brandon’s shadow added themselves to the ballad.
The finished song was performed for the first time at the seminar’s final group reading session at An Díseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture—thanks in large part to the generosity of Mazz O’Flaherty, proprietor of the Dingle Record Shop, smallest record store in Ireland, who let me borrow her guitar for the evening.
Down Brandon Lyrics:
The wind blows cold down Brandon
The trees bow their heads to the mountain’s shoulder.
The rain slips in like a thief in the night
And the mist folds ‘round ev’ry byre and boulder.
My dear and I lie safe and warm
Though the wrath of the Gods howl o’er us.
We’re sheltered safe in Dingle Bay
With the best of life before us.
The wind blows sharp down Brandon
The calves and the lambs turn their tails in defiance.
The fishermen pray for a calmer day
And the home-fires smoke in leeward silence.
My dear and I watch the lowering sky
And remember the trials we’ve lived through.
For now we’ll stay here in Dingle Bay
And draw warmth from the words, “I love you.”
The wind blows soft down Brandon
It ruffles the fuchsia the hedge encloses.
The clouds have lifted, a holy gift,
And the sun caresses the pale beach roses.
My dear and I take it all in stride
As we stroll toward the distant islands.
With Dingle Bay sparkling on our way,
Wishing Ireland could be our land.
The wind is calm down Brandon
The mist of mem’ry falls fast upon us.
We hold on tight to each precious sight;
Though dimmed by time, they will ever haunt us.
My dear and I heave a mournful sigh
For our time in Dingle is nearly o’er.
We’ll find a way to return, some day
To our paradise on the Kerry shore
Where the wind blows sweet down Brandon.
About the Composer
Clifton “Jerry” Noble, is a composer, arranger, performing musician, and music critic who works in musical genres ranging from art music to rock n’ roll. His work has been performed throughout the United States and in international venues from London to Jerusalem to Kolkata. He serves as the Staff Accompanist for the Smith College Music Department.
Write with us in Dingle next year, July 31 to Aug. 8, 2021. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for full information.
We welcome submissions to Multiplicity Blog (nonfiction prose of 1,000 words or fewer, poetry, and photography) all year. We also accept submissions of longer nonfiction works (up to 5,000 words), poetry or photography for the Fall 2020 issue of Multiplicity Magazine: At Work. Magazine submissions close on September 25, 2020. More details here.