Almost a month ago, the Celtic Thunder community was plunged into a nightmare, and no, unfortunately I am not being particularly melodramatic. Ryan Kelly, one of the lead singers of the group, and one of my two favorite Celtic Thunder performers, was in an accident ~June 3rd, 2012. He had just been tweeting about staying up for Celtics games on the 2nd, and then on the 3rd a message went out on his facebook account saying that he had been hospitalized and to pray for him. Another message was sent out a day or so later saying that no more information was likely to be released for a while and that the family needed their privacy. Then both messages vanished, and the fans heard nothing more for over a week. From the fans' perspective, this was terrible. Most of the Celtic Thunder fans are in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and Ryan was, and is in Ireland, so with no one saying anything and all the Celtic Thunder performers suddenly silent on facebook and twitter, the fans were all cut off and in the dark.
No doubt this time was a nightmare for everyone, not just the fans. I had my share of criticisms about how the folks running the public relations for Celtic Thunder were handling the situation, but as far as I can tell since, Ryan was in serious condition that first week. Certainly the person who sent that first message was smart enough and savvy enough to know not to just go announcing to fans that Ryan was hurt if he had just broken a leg or fainted- that message sounded scared, and the deafening silence from everyone after that sounded equally scared. Impressively, the fans still do not know what exactly happened- there were no successful leaks of sensitive information, accidental or otherwise. And, once the performers and Sharon Browne started communicating again with the fans, they all made it clear that the fans' prayers for Ryan were both welcome and needed. A few fans may have lost their faith in the group after that first week, feeling unappreciated and frustrated, but on the whole, the community I think is a bit stronger having weathered this month successfully together.
Now, Celtic Thunder is in Atlantic City, having performed 2 of their 10 nights there. A new singer, Colm Keegan, has been moved in faster than was originally planned to help fill the void left by Ryan's absence, and he seems to be doing quite well. Ryan is still in the hospital, but is no longer in critical care, and once he has recovered a while longer perhaps he might be back online to tell everyone he is alive and will be well soon. It seems like such a daunting message to write, after the massive outpouring of love and prayers his accident generated, and I would not be surprised if he needs a day or two once he is well enough to be on his computer, just to figure out what to say. At least, after this month, he can have no doubt that he is loved, very much, and by very many people throughout the world.
When this month began, and after that first day of watching the twitterfeed, trying to decide whether Ryan was really hurt, whether it might not just be a bad joke, or a bad dream, I started thinking about what I could possibly do. I am an atheist, albeit an oddly spiritual one, so prayers in a church, which were the resort of many fans this month, would be no comfort for me. And, after a day or so of reading what other people were saying, I felt that there were things people were trying to say that just did not express themselves well in the 140 characters of a tweet. I had a new blog on tumblr, one I had started after being impressed with the one Ryan and Neil had created for their Acoustic by Candlelight tour, which was just last month. I had never met another Celtic Thunder fan, and was unsure about posting anything much in the twitterfeed. The ladies on there seem nice enough, but they all seemed to know each other already, and I had no idea if I might step on too many toes with what I had to say.
Thus, I started posting 'candles' on tumblr. I had no intention of sending them to Ryan, and would rather not leave them on tumblr now that their usefulness is coming to an end, so they are migrating to my old blog, here, to be archived. Yes, I am a bit vain, and I had fun some nights finding just the right candle. I was amazed at how many people on tumblr 'liked' my posts, and how many people shared them on their own blogs. I tried to keep them short, but I am a writer at heart, and short for me is still long for tumblr. And, they are all a bit personal, saying things that I needed to say on those nights, but not necessarily with any expectation that other people would agree or support what I said. Instead of getting notes asking me to shut up, or criticizing what I wrote, I got notes thanking me for what I was writing, telling me my posts were appreciated, and I even chatted briefly with a few nice Thunderheads on tumblr through my candle posts.
I hope that from now on Ryan has no more crises to weather- he has had more than his share already this past year- and I hope the rest of the group will never have such crises. I also hope that they all realize that the support and love and loyal devotion the Thunderheads showed Ryan this month is equally available to all of them. We all have our favorites- Ryan and Neil are mine, and if I could find myself a man like either of them, but atheist/humanist and actually interested in me, I would be a happy girl for the rest of my days- but a girl does not have to feel romantically attracted to a man to care about him. Anyway, the next few posts here will be the first few weeks of tumblr posts from what became a sort of odd online social media vigil, as fans all over the planet watched twitter, praying, hoping and waiting for good news.