RICKTER SCALE: The sound of Irish angels

Since she returned from Eire in June, it’s not a stretch to say the bride has refused to go Braghless. While Joan had long been enamoured with tales from the Emerald Isle, her flirtation with anything Irish has now morphed into what most would describe as an obsession.

One of the thoughtful gifts she brought home from that first of what I fear will be as many trips as we can afford was a bar of soap. It came in a burlap bag, which contained a box so carefully crafted that you were loathe to discard it. Inside that was an oversized bar of soap of a kind you would never find washed up upon these shores.

The soap itself was wrapped in paper that held the subtle scent like a hint of what was to come long after the bar dispensed its last load of lather. When I sadly remarked that it was nearing the end of its life expectancy after my morning shower one day, Joan said she would gladly replace it that weekend, providing she could get the time off work.

Joan recently discovered an online group that shares information on everything Irish ranging from the mainstream to the obscure in videos, printed words and links, a veritable treasure chest for those that share her passion. It was there that she uncovered the gem that inspired this column.

TG Lurgan is a summer camp in Galway for Irish teens that preaches anti-bullying, teaches the Gaelic language and a host of other novel pursuits, not the least of which is a love of music.

The choir at the camp has taken a turn at interpreting The Rain in Africa, a tune released by Toto in 1982 that has enough staying power to garner a smattering of air time on classic rock radio.

Whether you loved it a lot or liked it a little, you must hear the heavenly treatment this group of kids has fashioned from that song. I’m not one to throw words like uplifting or exhilarating around casually, but those feelings flooded through me in waves of soothing sounds the first time I heard it.

It begins with the sound of palms pressing in a sensual circular motion that’s impossible to describe, followed by a symphonic pattern of snapping fingers that duplicates the sound of rain.

Other than the occasional banging of a drum, the voices of these children carry the entire performance in a way that explains why music has no boundaries constrained by language.

Although you don’t need to listen to this performance on 11, I’m certain that Nigel from Spinal Tap would highly recommend that choice of volume to fully explore the journey the music transcends. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did at


And Slainte, as Joan would say. You may even be moved to take the time to learn some basic Gaelic, as the bride did in preparation for her last trip. And the next.


Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and nearly retired journalist.

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