I knew my return to Castleisland would be fraught with sadness. And it is. Jackie and I played music like we were together in the womb. His memory is in every seat of every pub in this town. And especially in Flanagan’s in Brosna. Now we remember him in stories and anecdotes: and there are many! I visited Annie O’Connor (his widow) and she is still, 2 years on, one thought away fro a teardrop. “I still expect to see him coming in from the field”. “I haven’t been back in the fields since he passed.” “I ploughed over his garden.” “He was an intelligent and generous man.” “That’s life.”
He once started playing the French waltz Bourasque and i joined in. “I’ve played that one for 50 years and you’re the first man who ever knew it.” I learned it form John Malone.
Great to be in Castleisland for the POK. All the familiar and friendly faces. This is my 18th attendance at the festival and 19th trip to Ireland. That adds up to 82 weeks of my life spent in Eire. Staying with good friend Tony Halsall 3 km above the town. I’m enjoying the walk into town and back as my recent hip replacement is fine and strong.
Georgia and I decide to have our first session in Kearney’s Bar with Con Moynihan and Dennis O’Connor: old friends and gracious musicians. Check out their album transcribed on The Session.The jigs and reels never stop and the slides and polkas are mighty.
Local legend Paddy Jones stops in after playing his own 2 hour gig. He plays some beautiful slow airs. We chat afterwards “I’ve beaten cancer twice”. Good man Paddy and many more years to you! Watch him on YouTube: “The Fiddle Bends the Note”.
Jay took me to the Carrowkeel passage tombs Co. Sligo. What can I say? Where can I start? The were built 4000 years before Christ. We hiked up the mountain and even that view was spectacular. One tomb is accessible and neither is there an interpretive centre nor an admission fee.
Jay says the faeries will dance to your music. I pull out the fiddle and play “The Kid on the Mountain”. Very magical indeed.
Wednesday I awoke and had the fry with the Kerins then on the road to Galway (yes I missed the turn at Charlesville and added an hour to the trip! ). Still I arrived in time for dinner with the Fullers and G&S. Fun to hear the stories. They were 3 days in Dublin and 2 days on Inishbofin.
We walk into town to meet Declan Corey (mandolin) Ger Clancey (fiddle) & Mick Clancy (bouzouki). I love playing with Georgia: it’s one of the true joys of my life! The synchronicity and “know where we’re going next-ness” can’t be described.
Walked in from Renmore in the Lashing rain. A very small and lovely session with only Mick, Anders and myself. It would have been a lovely quiet session but for the College ceili session going on upstairs, I thought the roof would come in. Old friends Christine & Gerry Marti showed up. They just happen to arrive in Galway every October as I do.
A great night in Tig Coili’s with Anders Trajberg (box), Mick Creehan (whistle), Cathal Johnson (harmonica) and NIall (bodrhan and tambourine). I swear Anders know every tune from every culture on every instrument! I told him about the Danish Viking Exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum. “They should hire me!” “You’d be perfect!”
I am here and living the life. Direct flight from Vancouver to Dublin. 8 1/2 hours in the air. Spent a long time convincing the customs man that I was not here to work, that I had a return ticket and work to come home too and that I earn no money playing in pubs ( do you include free pints?). 2 lovely sunny days here and it is green! Was at the Crane Bar on Saturday playing with Michael Chan and 200 others. Met Tommy McCarthy, https://www.facebook.com/tommy.mccarthy.58
He played with Arcady at the Edmonton Festival in 1993. He sat in for a couple of tunes.
Sunday I was at the Salthouse for 2 Americana sessions and met up with fellow Canadian Kyle from Saltspring Island and we talked for several hours about hockey and why the Canucks suck! (haha). His friend Siobhan from Dublin patiently indulging us. A great night all in all. Finished it off with the small curry chip from Vinnie’s (our tradition.)