When Irish eyes are smiling, it’s music to their ears

Eimear Noone helped spearhead the ambitious production, “This is Ireland,” at UCLA.

Malibu locals band together to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.

By Kim Devore / The Malibu Times

With legendary musicians like Bono and Van Morrison, famed scribes like Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, and extraordinary actors loved the world over, it’s easy to see why the Irish community has always been bursting with pride.

So this year why not raise a glass and salute all things Irish?

That’s just what they’ll be doing at UCLA’s Royce Hall March 17 as locals gather for a special production of “This is Ireland.” The starry event features an impressive Malibu lineup, including angelic actress Roma Downey and suave Bond man Pierce Brosnan.

Downey, who hails from Derry in Northern Ireland, will recite the poetry of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney with backing of a full orchestra.

“I am thrilled to be involved,” Downey said. “It should be a grand night.”

Another Malibuite, Eimear Noone, helped spearhead the ambitious production and is bringing it to life. The acclaimed composer and conductor hopes to take her audience on a magical journey of the Emerald Isle and all it has to offer.

“Ireland has created so many wonderful filmmakers, poets, playwrights and novelists,” Noone said. “Our show, through the music, poetry and story, will endeavor to share our unique Irish experience in a way that captivates and entertains. We can show not just where we have come from, but how our culture has travelled and infused itself into so many others adding to the richness of this global village we all call home.”

“This is Ireland” offers both original and traditional compositions ranging from Irish folk songs to music by Oscar winners like John Williams and Elmer Bernstein. In addition, the program features selections from music legends U2 and Thin Lizzy with a special tribute to Gary Moore.

The extravaganza includes a 40-piece orchestra and chorus as well as a rock ensemble. It incorporates Irish film clips, newsreels, dance numbers, literary passages and even a special greeting from Ireland’s president, Mary McAleese.

The all-star occasion also fills a void for the local Irish community.

“After Los Angeles’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled last year, we decided to dedicate a fresh, new event in celebration of Ireland’s rich socio-cultural history,” Noone said. “Not only do we want to share our favorite things about being Irish with our adopted city, but we also want to create a meaningful and exciting Irish experience to redefine St. Patrick’s Day.”

Noone’s husband, award winning producer and composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, is co-producing the event. In addition to Downey, honorary patrons include veteran actor Martin Sheen, director Jim Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan.

Together they hope to have Angelinos of all backgrounds joining in their love of Ireland. Noone said that might be the easiest part of all.

“If you’re a big-hearted person, a person who is generous of spirit who delights in the free riches of life, then there’s no need to capture the Irish spirit. The Irish spirit will find you.”

The show is dedicated to the memory of Noone’s father, Padraic Noone who died last year.

“There is no greater gift than the opportunity to honor my dad through the heritage and history of which he was so proud,” Noone said.

“If I can channel his joie de vivre, love of music and above all, love of a great party, I will have done my job properly.”

More information can be found online at www.uclalive.com