Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Sound of the Ballingate Bell

A newspaper article about a bell is of course lacking one major aspect of the story - sound. My "Ballingate bell calling the faithful in Zambia" story is about the quest to find the bell nearly 60 years after it left Ireland. But I also wanted to hear it!

Shortly after photographs and other evidence from the Franciscan Missionaries in Zambia helped us to trace the bell to a church in Malengwa, my Franciscan contact there Br Owen Mwene, made a short video. Several of his colleagues surrounded the bell as many were interested in the story of where the bell came from. I was delighted to hear the bell for the first time. It sounds just like any other bell, but after the long quest to find it I felt a strong attachment to it. 

There's quite a bit of wind noise in the video. It was my original intention to try and make a documentary of this story. One idea I had was to actually go to Malengwa to see and ring the bell for myself. I planned to collect recordings, I already have some of my father telling the original story, a neighbour recounting hearing the bell and what it was used for, and a retired friar telling me about life in Zambia (all done on my Google Pixel 3a phone). Once I realised that a documentary was not going to happen, I got the story published in The Wicklow People instead.

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