Long Way Out Wednesday 6: The Last Brother

The Last BrotherThe free track for this week is “The Last Brother.” It’s a bit of a tribute to my Irish roots, inspired by sean nós singing. Sean nós, pronounced “shan noce,” means old style. I also put my years of Irish dancing lessons to use and recorded myself in my hard shoes for percussion.

On my most recent visit to Ireland in 2004, I snapped this photo of the house where my grandmother’s brother lived while raising his family. It’s one of two small cottages on the tract of land where my family lived on the shores of County Kerry.

My grandmother on my mom’s side was one of ten children, and this song’s title refers to the brother who was her last surviving sibling. He was also the only one to remain in Ireland while his brothers and sisters all emigrated to the United States. I had the pleasure of spending time with him on two of my visits to Ireland. The last time I saw him was when I was sixteen; he was in good spirits, but suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, which had afflicted my grandmother as well. I remember his strikingly pale blue eyes, which looked so much like my grandmother’s, and wondered about what old memories might still have been swimming around behind them.