I steel myself for the trip to see Tommy Lanigan & Michelle O’Regan in Kilkenny. Google maps says it’s 2 hours 39 minutes but I know better.
Kilkenny is hard to get to from Kerry as there are no direct roads. Last time it took 4 hours. Dr. Google says 2′ 40 “if I go north to Limerick and take the Dublin road (M50) for 8 km. That’s where everything went wrong. 2 hours to that point but the directions are on my phone and I am not reading them well. I stiop at a petrol station, “Google says take the turn into Mooreville” ” This whole area is called Mooreville” “My friend’s house is called ‘Gorteen'” “Oh, many places have that name”. So I am sent to Durrow, the only consolation being we play a reel called “The Trip to Durrow”. I arrive in Kilkenny (Marble City) and ring Michelle. Her directions only do for a couple of km’s then things aren’t matching the instructions. I ask a man at the petrol station and I’m sure he mishears the landmark I asked for “Kilcreene Hospital”. Oh Alicrane Hospital, that’s in Waterforford”. But hes stops a young woman dressed as a cat (It’s Halloween). “Actually I’m looking for Ballycallan”. “That’s where I live” Will I follow you?” Yay!
Irish people in general are inquisitive and direct. I knew enough to ask my guide’s name -Amy. “Oh Amy her grandfather had this house.” And “Why the heck did you go to Durrow?”
Finn is a tall lad now at 16. Ellie is 13 and out at a Hallpween party. Maybe 5’10”. Michelle is cooking lamb chops – so very Irish. Tommy and I break out the instruments after supper and play and tell stories until midnight me on fiddle and he on bodhran and bouzouki. He is a great singer and used to tour with Davey Arthur. Some sad stories; his brother Paul passed away this year at 52. He closes his eyes and sings the song he sang at the funeral. It’s and an adaption of “The Shores of Lough Bran”. I’m holding back the tears. It’s another privileged moment which I seem to often be privy to. Tommy is a heart man and a philosopher so it’s always a joy to hear his insights. We finish off a 6 back of Budweiser. “I don’t consider that beer.” “Neither do I.”
The next morning after a breakfast of porridge and fresh laid eggs (they have hens) Michelle give me fantastic directions back to Castleisland that take an hour off the trip.