Culture makes us as human beings. Culture means "how we do things around here". It has moulded generation after generation and has given their identity to hundreds of generations. While based in the past, it is a living, changing thing, being shaped by current and past events. It gives us identity and helps us to know who we are, both as a nation, as communities and as individuals. The voice of the historian accounts for the macro picture of history; the micro picture, of the perceptions and feelings of the ordinary people, the voice of the people, is to be found in the living culture of the Rambling House.
Before the days of radio and cinema, long before the days of TV, long, long before the days of PC, Ipad, laptop or iPhone people had other ways to entertain themselves and to inform themselves of the news. On any given night in their local area, if people wished to engage in the "social media" of the day, they would visit the Rambling House open on that night.
While the songs and recitations entertained, they had a much greater value: they were part of a living tradition and culture through which a deep-rooted sense of identity was passed from one generation to the next. Con Houlihan, the great Kerry journalist, quoted the Greek poet Cavafy: "in the streets where you were born, there will you live, there you will die". The culture of our native place travels with us throughout our lives, wherever we might travel. The culture of the Rambling House fostered a sense of place, of heritage, of tradition, of belonging, of identity; it helped young people develop a real sense of Who I Am, firmly rooted in their local place, their local culture, their local heritage.
The passing of customs and beliefs between generations helps to define a people and create communities. The sense of Who I AM, of personal identity, is highly problematic today: where do young people get their self-image, their sense of identity. their sense of belonging? Sadly, it is largely from the cosmopolitan cultural icons of the social media, from the international imagery of today’s multi-media where bland sameness has replaced individual charisma. Lacking is the sense of dignity and of self-worth that comes from having a strongly rooted sense of place and of heritage, and without those roots people can be led to false values of what is important in life. Image and fickle fashion become more important than rooted, real self-dignity; superficial image supersedes true self-confidence.How badly the old culture is needed in the frantic busyness of today's world!