Apr 13, 2016
April 11 Spent a little time waking up, playing tunes (if you're not a musician our schedule would drive you crazy). We live for the music on this pilgrimage, we eat, drink, breathe and bathe in the tunes. Often we're playing before we've even really woken up, individually working aspects of a new tune or set we've wanted to learn or just heard the night before. Some might call it a madness, we just call it playing tunes! Janelle texted then called wanting to set up a meeting and lunch. She suggested 10:00 and I countered with 11:00. We're a bit bleary early, session start at 9:30 or 10:00 and end at 12:30 or 1:00, sometimes later. By the time we get back to our place and calm down we're in bed at 2:00 or later, musician's hours. We drove in to Lisdoonvarna met John, Janelle, Cathy and Timothy and guided them up to our eyrie on the hill. We had a nice lunch which Morgan presented beautifully as he always does. He's an artist in so many things. Our guests had to drive back down and all the way to Shannon since they flew out the next day. We said goodbye and grabbed naps. We were told by the musicians at The Roadside there was to be a session in Kinvarra so we headed over there in the evening. We didn't know what pub it was in so we drove there, parked and scouted until we found it at (. ) We saw a poster on the wall stating that Dermot Byrne and Florianne Blanceke were at this place every Monday. As soon as we saw the name we knew who they were. Dermot is a great box player, he toured with Altan when they played in Spokane back in 1996 and has been an active musician for decades. Florianne is a marvelous harpist and Don and I have played the CD they put out together on our radio show. The two of them together make very lovely music. By the time we got there the session was packed. Once again we were a bit late and didn't feel like crowding in. A little more intimate session is what we crave, and as Morgan states, once you get a certain size it seems like it becomes about proving you can play the tunes and keep pace. They took a break and when we had a chance we said hello to Dermot and in the conversation it understood we were players. He said that we should grab our instruments that "it would calm down a little later" but we demurred. Morgan mentioned to him that he could play about half the tunes they played and Dermot with a moments hesitation said "well, why don't you just play over the second half" Irish wit, man their fast.
Apr 10, 2016
April 10 Don and I woke up about 9:30 and went down to get breakfast. We didn't see James and Morgan, and since Fidelis usually stops breakfast around 10:00 I thought it best to wake them. I knocked on their door and poked my head in. After calling them, Morgan rather blearily raised his head and grunted a response; my duty done I went back downstairs. Don and I were working on our eggs when Morgan showed, and a little after that James. They looked the worse for wear and they asked if they kept us up. Our room was directly above the pub, and when I climbed into bed I could hear them, but I put my ear plugs in and could just barely hear it. I drifted off and that was the last I remember, for Don it was pretty much the same story. James and Morgan were amazed and grateful we weren't pissed off and that's when we learned they'd been playing and drinking pints until 3:00 am. Katie and Des apparently leading the way, ah...the stamina of the young! John came in to say goodbye as he was on his way into Castlemain the next town up the road. He's a quiet and humble fellow and we all like him immensely. We packed our things and spoke with Fidelis on the way out. She told us that she was glad we'd had such poor accommodations and came up to be with them. "Thanks be to God", she said because we were able to stay. Again, the Foley's are friends that we'll always want to connect with. As we were stepping out the door I said that we'd indeed see them and that friends and family was what made life meaningful, to which she readily agreed. Happy to see and sad to part. We all agreed that the next trip we'll spend 3 or 4 days in Inch so we can have more time with the Foley's. We headed East out of Dingle then North toward Clare. The country changes quite a bit, from mountains, to rolling hills and then finally rolling open land that runs down to the sea. We got to the Tarbert ferry and went across the Shannon and into Co. Clare, West through the towns of Kilrush and Kilkee then up the coast through the famous music town of Miltown Malby, where we had our first session adventure in 2012, up through Lahinch where there were loads of surfers out catching some pretty good sized waves, past the Cliffs of Moher and the house we rented our first trip, past Doolin and finally reaching Fanore, an impossibly picturesque village with the ocean at its doors and steep hills at its back. We followed the directions to our next house and climbed a steep, narrow gravel road up higher and higher the view of the sea and surrounding countryside expanding with every turn in the road until we reached the home perched at the edge of a pasture looking west out into the expanse of the Atlantic, South down to the Aran Islands and North across Galway bay into the mountains of Connemara, a breath taking panorama. We arrived to a beautiful blue sky with gorgeous cumulus clouds over Connemara and Galway. I walked around the hills shooting photos, learning my new camera, and James and Morgan walked up the road. I saw a man walking up toward me and we stopped to chat. His name is Kevin and he was visiting from Cambridge, England. He has relatives living in Fanore whom he said were having tea and "there's only so much tea you can drink, so I decided to walk the hill, since I'd been here off and on for years and never walked to the top". We chatted a bit and he continued on and I kept taking pictures. The new house was such a step up from Cullen and with this view we've already decided if we can get this place again we will. We headed up our hill and down the other side to Lisdoonvarna. There's a famous tune named The Road To Lisdoonvarna. We'd heard there was a session led by Christy Barry and we thought we'd check it out. We took our instruments in case, but left them in the car. We've learned through experience that it's best not to crash a session until you've found out if it's an open or closed session. When we got there 3 players were spinning some nice tunes. Flute, box and fiddle, skilled players very relaxed and pleasant. Then two others showed up, box and tenor guitar. We sat and listened, the guitar player was very quiet and not up to the skills of the others. We sipped our pints but were cautious. Finally when we were close to leaving Morgan got up and thanked them and mentioned we were players. The box player said "if we'd known that we would've played better", love that Irish humor! The fiddle and box player said, "so where's your instruments", Morgan told them they were in the car but we were leaving soon. They told us of 3 sessions, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I asked them if they were going to be at any of them and they more or less shrugged, that's right! I learned that lesson last trip, don't make plans in Ireland. The Wed. session is supposed to be led by John Faulkner, whom I admire very much. He cut several albums with Dolores Keane in the 70's and is one of those icons of modern traditional music. I hope we get to participate but if not it will be a pleasure just to listen.