Back in Castleiland for the POK. “Welcome home they all say to me.
I call into Browne’s and have a great session with Connie O’Connell. Loads of Kerry music. Also beside me is Anita on fiddle a lovely school teacher who often plays with Donie accordion in a ceili/ wedding band.
I Call on old friend Dave Harper in Tubber (means “well”) in the Burren near Crusheen. It’s the legendary Thursday session in Fafa’s in Ennis with Siobhan Peoples and Blackie O’Connell. Also present are Conal O’Kane guitar from Philadelphia, Peter (Foxy) Carberry from Capermote Co. Limerick.
Foxy is a lovely singer with the gravelly voice. Now some singers don’t want you overplaying behind them but he was kicking my ankle to play along. After the most gorgeous version of “Rainy Night in Soho” by Shane MacGowan he turns to me and says “I play music so I can Meet people like you”. Sweet!
I awake in Co. Kerry and after a flurry of calls to Kilkenny, Cork & Crusheen I decide the best musical option is to call up to Galway City again to try and get a session in with Anders Trajberg and another with Declan Corey.
Session 1 is with Anders and his wife Mayo in Taaffe’s. Present are John from Fort Erie Ont on octave mandolin, Hoewke flute & bodhran & Gereard whistle. It’s been several years since I played with Anders and he is as powerful as ever.
The session breaks up but the 2 Canadians, the German and now Baya from Czech stay on and the house obliges with free pints.
Session 2 across the road at Tig Coili’s with Declan Corey mandolin, Ger fiddle, Fiacra bouzouki, Gregor fiddle, Eoin banjo (Co. Antrim), & Tiernan concertina (Co. Antrim). Fast and furious as it always is with Declan.
Session 2 1/2. I catch the last 1/2 hour with Anders in the Crane. Michael won’t serve me a pint though. In the bar is Skeriegoat Ferguson a country singer whom I had a great session with several years ago in The Old Forge.
I see Jackie and he is weak. As well he has a sore throat and can only whisper. But I tell him the story of being in the home of Willie Coleman as well as play him the jig and the 2 Blue Ribbon Polkas and he is smiling and tapping the foot. Tuesday night is the session in Kearney’s.
John McAuliffe comes in and wants his favourite Liz Carroll tune. He is the only man here that knows were Regina Sask. is (pronounced Re-gee-na), as well as her coordinates of latitude and longitude.
Present are Terrance McQuinn banjo, Dave Dooley low whistle, Sylvia Coakley whistle and singing and Sean Browne box. I am missing Jackie but the music is sound. DSCF9142
I leave Renmore at 1:00 and down the road to Ennis to have the dinner with John Culliney. Would it ever stop raining?! Of 18 visits to Ireland this is by far the worst weather which includes Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian.
Johnny has the huge meal prepared -Bacon & Cabbage; an Irish classic. I eat basically 2 dinners, then we catch up on the gossip and out come the fiddles. We have our favourite sets which we played often in 2007 when John stayed with us in Edmonton. We would play at my Christmas gigs at West Edmonton Mall as well as home parties and the Tuesday session at O’Byrnes Irish pub.
Now down to Kerry. If I have a ‘local” in Ireland it must be Flnnagan’s Bar in Brosna. I arrive alone as Jackie, Terrance and Dave have other concerns. But it’s old home day and I am frequently greeted with “Welcome Home!”. My Canadian nervousness of perhaps being the only musician tonight is quickly dispelled when in walks Pat McCarthy a fine strong singer with guitar and Mikey O’Connor also with guitar. Good times til the crowd thins out at 1:00. The Baron (Timmy O’Sullivan) is scheming for a way to keep the party going so I could have a drink (or 3) and then head back to the farm with him. Better heads prevail and I head back to Tony Halsall’s in the rain (sigh).
My tradition when I stay with Rob & Mary is to attend mass with them on Sunday morning at 10 (set the alarm Jay!). The church is called “St. Oliver Plunkett” and mass is over in 35 minutes flat! Let’s try that in Edmonton.
Dinner is gorgeous lamb and potatoes with all the veg and home made apple tart!
The girls are home from gym with two young friends. Jimmy Higgins shows up to pick up his daughter Blathnaid. “Just played with Christie Moore last night in Sligo”. Seriously! You played with Christie Moore! That’s the big leagues. Christie is the biggest name in Irish music.
“Grab your fiddle” he says as he sits at the piano and I play a set of reels. He is a bodhran instructor as well at University Limerick.
First session is the Americana session in The Salthouse. V on fiddle Calvin on bass and Mark on guitar. Noriana is away tonight 🙁 Also Roger Green on mandolin from Maryland. He really knows his bluegrass and tells me a story about being in Edmonton once and meeting Alfie Myhres at the shop then called The House of Banjo. Many of my friends show up; Rob with Daniel and then later with Mary and Corrina and Barry.
The late session is Sunday night at the Crane with Greg & Mary.
A great quiet session.
Then to Vinnie’s for Curry Cheese Chip and the walk to Renmore along Lough Athola.
I start the day in Renmore with Rob. We check out a potential rental property for him then hit a bike shop to get a chain and a rear cassette.Fun for me to do bike mechanics in Eire.
I follow George Grasso to his 2 gigs – first at 5:30 (half five as they say) at Taaffe’s then 10:00 at The Crane. George is a multi instrumentalist so the first session he is playing the Uilliean pipes and ant the second he plays the banjo.
It is Friday Oct 20, 2017 and I bid adieu to Co. Sligo and Jay Kerins. I arrive at the home of Seamie & Teresa and receive an exuberant welcome from Paco & Zappy the pups. Great to catch up and Seamie is flat out with his deaconite in Elphin. Then onto Paula Kelly. Always joyful to see Paula as she runs a creche and her house is full of children. As it’ Friday many Irish Catholics observe the day of fast which basically means no red meat. She prepares the most beautiful piece of salmon. I go off to see her mother Joanie McCourt aged 87. Huge changes in Joanie in a year. If her dementia was a sapling this year it is a full grown oak. She has left her home on main street and is in the Sacred Heart Home. Recognition and response is minimal but myself and the staff elicit a few smiles with mentions of Canada and her children.
Now I am driving to Galway on the M5 motorways in a torrential deluge. Tropical storm Brian is imminent. I’m stuck behind a huge truck for miles as I hesitate to pass with my little Skoda with all the wind and spray from the truck. After the toll booth the sun comes out. I arrive in Renmore. Hello Rob & Mary! They are also eating fish:fish choder. Yum!
I’ve spent 8 days in Co. Sligo which is a first for me. Thanks largely to the other Jay, Jay Kerins, from Ballinacarrow. One highlight was being in the home of Willie Coleman who composed the famous jig “Willie Coleman’s”. (It’s the 2nd jig in our Cherish the Ladies set Tim.) We had a lovely tune with Francie Coleman the son of Willie. That was Saturday Oct 14, 2017. Then we hit the Morrison Centre in Riverstown for a Ceolthas Evening of beautoiful Sligo music. This is the heart of it and feel I’m “Touching the Cloth”.