My last night for this year.

I decide to do the 2 sessions in Coili’s tonight. The first is with Ger Clancy (fiddle) and Mary Shannon (banjo). The second is with Johnny O’Halloran (box) Liz (fiddle & concertina) and Kevin Whelan (banjo).

Rob, Mary, Daniel, Aisling and Miriam call in to watch. Great fun!

GEr Clancy, Mary Shannon & Gregor Moroz

It’s the bittersweet time for a traveller: sad to leave but happy to go home. I am making the most of my time. The 2 sessions were quite different; in the first I knew barely any tunes and in the second I knew most everyone. They are all on the Olympus recorder so I can listen at home and remember the great sessions of 2016: my musical postcard!

 

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Georgia’s last day in Ireland

We awake in Renmore and after a good lie-in we head to Dunnes Stores to get the tea, cheese and Taytos for the Canadians back home. We get lost both going to the shop and returning. I’ awful at finding/ following directions and Galway is certainly not “on the grid”. Oh well, chalk it up to sight seeing and talking to locals.

Jay, Declan Corey, Shoseph, Georgia , Michael

We decide to do both sessions at Coili’s. Declan Corey, Ger Clancy and Shoseph lead the first one. There are mighty tunes played fast. We lead several sets and are asked to play some Ukrainian Kolomeykas.

One last trip to the chipper “Vinnies” For Georgia. We always get the curry chip but this time we add cheese. Can you say “Irish Poutine?”

Her bus to the Dulin airport leaves at 2:15 am. See you in Canada Georgia!

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Dinner with Johnny and a lovely session at Cruise’s.

John Culliney has invited us for one of his famous dinners. I eat what seems like a whole chicken and a bag of spuds. Super yum!

We play some sets of John’s favourites: The Shaskeen in C/ The Girl Who broke my Heart, The Hole in the Hedge (head)/ Seamus Cooley’s/ The Kerfunken.

Hugs and kisses then we find a lovely session in a 400 year old pub -Cruise’s.

Eoin O’Neill (bouzouki) and Aoibheann (Yvonne) Queally (box) are playing a lovely Clare style session. It ends early and we chat with elderly John McMahon who takes Georgia’s address and promises to sen her a Christmas card.

It was great to play with Eoin again. He says he plays “Carpathian Waltz” from my Borscht & Bluegrass CD once a month. Thanks Eoin!

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Fair Day November 1st

It’s a lovely sunny day for the horse fair in Castleisland. I come early to mail some postcards and get a sandwich.

Jackie, Terrance and I are playing in the half barrel and the town is even more full than the POK (!!!) Well add livestock to the festival goers.

Georgia show up at 3:00 from her trip to Dingle and we are on the road to Ennis by 4:30.

Jackie with "McHorrible"

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The Town is Chock-a-Block

It is shoulder to shoulder in every pub in town!

I find my friend Donal Cullinane in The Crown and I have a mini session with him. We call up to Kearney’s where he is on the bill and although it is a noisy old session there is a good number of musicians and I can hear them. Sometimes at a festival the crowd volume is so desperate that it is impossible to even hear your neighbour. “Turn up the banjo!!!” Now there’s a rarely heard statement.

Donal and Emma O'Leary on fiddle

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Sunday at the Festival

Jackie, Terrance and I are on the bill for 3:00 at the Half Barrel. Dave Doody is always with us and we attract several other musicians including old friend Dick Hoffman from The Netherlands, Mary Fleming (box), Young Sean (fiddle), and John from Denmark (banjo). We play for 5 hours (!) which is quite fun.

John, the Man from Denmark

 

In the Half Barrel with Jackie Dan Gerry O'Connor (box)

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Saturday POK full on!

Saturday POK full on!
Session 1 is in The Crown led by Derek Hickey (box). A lovely quiet session with many young players and loads of hornpipes. Derek tells me he was in Edmonton in March with De Dannan. That would be the Alec Finn De Dannan as opposed to the Frankie Gavin De Dannan. Also at the table are Eileen De Paor (flute), Aidan Coffey (box) and John Kelly (flute).
Session 2 is at Peter Browne’s: my annual seen with Jackie Daly, Matt Cranitch and Paul de Grae. Super fun as usual with powerful rhythm, loads of Sliabh Luchra sets and Jackie’s irrepressible humour – both musically and linguistically.
Session 3 is the heated beer gardens in back of McCarthy’s with Georgia and her young crowd. Musicians include Greta Curtin (concertina), Darragh Horan (guitar), Jessie Healy (fiddle). I walk the 3 km to Tony’s. I’m almost there when Georgia and Greta pull beside me. “Put on the tea!” I yell.

McCarthy's beer gardens with Greta Curtin (concertina), Jessie Healie (fiddle)

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Friday -Ennis to Castleisland

We are staying at the Banner Lodge in Ennis.
I am up first and after checking the local news on the WIFI (Oilers are 7-1 to start the season!!!) I call in for my continental breakfast which includes porridge (yay). The man of the house is Noel Carr who knows a lot about Irish Trad Music. He is happy to sit with me and talk about all the goings on in Ireland, Canada, Ennis and of course the reckon’ American election (I swear the campaigning has been dragging on for 5 years!). Once Georgia is sorted we hit the streets to find our friend John. I know he works in a charity shop so we start canvassing them. In the second one we ask for John and your one shopping knows immediately and gives us great directions. Hugs and kisses in the St. Vincent de Paul, a short visit and we arrange the annual meeting/ dinner that Johnny puts on for us every year. We call across the street to a hair stylist “T-Fades” operated by John’s son Tolla. It is a bustling modern barber -3 chairs full. Tolls son “rena” was born this week. Congrats!

Your man from Britanny - Johann

We actually make good time to Kerry and avoid the Bank holiday rush.
Hello Tony Halsall “how are ye?”.
Johnny Cahill Collects us at 7:00 to take us to visit his mother Ann who since last year has moved into a Lodge in Tralee. At the age of 93 she is as sharp as ever but obviously getting feeble. Georgia and I put on a mini concert and staff members appear dancing.
The first night of the Patrick O’Keeffe and we have a mighty session in Kearney’s with Sean Abeyta who is Kevin’s twin. How many musicians were at the table? 20? 30? Not sure. Henry is There with his drum and Pat O’Leary on the box. Sean drops us home at 2:00 am.

 

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Sligo Once More

After an altogether lovely day visiting with Brian and Gay and exploring we call into town. Brian is playing a plugged in gig at Conelly’s with Ollie Alcorn a wonderful Australian singer living here now.

We call into Lillies to play with Philip Duffy (fiddle) again and Sean Carrol (B/C box). “Did you used to play at Furey’s?” Sean asks me. That is the benefit of having returned here so many times (17) – I do know many people. “I used to play with your father Michael” says I.

Also there were our two Swedish friends, Viktor (banjo) and Sebastian (whistle).Sebastion went to college in Belfast and they have some mighty Irish tunes.

Sebastian, Georgia & Viktor

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Tobernalt Holy Well

Brian and Gay live very close to an interesting historic site: Tobernalt Holy Well.

It is a secret place where Catholics came to worship when they were forbidden to do so under British Penal Laws.

These were oppresive laws that were in effect (at some times more vehemently enforced) during the years 1594-1920 (!). Their primary goal was to destroy the Catholic faith and replace it with the Anglican Church or Church of England. This of course was hugely unsuccessful and led to covert masses served at midnight in a secret place with a stone for an altar. Breaking the law was often meant with secure perseution including death.

As well “Catholics were barred from membership in the Irish Parliament, and the major landholders had most of their lands confiscated under the Adventurers Act.” wikipedia

The following prayer greets the visitor at the entrance to Tobernalt Holy Well:

Pilgrim walk softly, this is holy ground.
It has been made holy by the feet of generations
Who came here to worship God
To hear mass
To honour Our Lady
To pray for their needs and for peace.

Here are memories of a poor, persecuted people.
They braved death to come.
They walked barefoot through the woods
To worship in secret.

Here are memories of hunted priests
Offering mass in this hallowed place,
At the risk of their lives.

Will their sufferings and sacrifices be in vain?

They have handed us a torch.
Let us keep that torch alight.

After visiting the well we went for a walk by a beautiful lake.called Lough Gill.

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