So we rise the next day at 11:00, this is getting to be a habit what with real musicians hours, and give Padraig a text and he says to meet him in Westport for coffee. He’d like us to meet his wife Els. This is one of the true differences between Ireland and the States. We meet a man through shared interest, that being music, and we like one another. The door to friendship is opened up and that’s it. We’ve all made friends in the States of course but the feeling of connection feels more cautious and hesitant there than here. The Irish are so hospitable. It’s uncanny.
We go into Westport to do some gift shopping and I find a few things for Ally and girls. James tells me that we’re meeting Padriag at Molloy’s and to meet them there when I finish up my shopping. I walk down to Molloy’s and find the door locked, walk around the side looks closed, scratch my head, try the door again and decide to continue shopping. I’m a bit miffed, but decide to let it go and sit down and read in a coffee shop. I come back out on the street and finally see James and Morgan. They ask me where I’ve been and I tell them I tried the door and it was locked. They look askance. I tell them I pulled the door, turned the knob and James observes that the door opens with a push. Christ! I’m and idiot.
So off to Padraig’s ( pronounced Poorick ) and Els’ where they give Don and I tea and digestives. Padraig shows us some memorabilia of his famous uncle Barney McKenna. I have to admit I’d neglected following Barney and he’s one of the seminal figures in the modern revival of traditional music. James comes over after taking Morgan to Gary’s for bow talk. We all pile into their car with their dog Tessa in our laps and head into the country for a pleasant walk through an oak grove and along a lovely river. Then back to Westport where we’re dropped off at our car and we get ingredients for dinner. Gary and Morgan arrive jut in time for dinner and then off to session. We head up to McGing’s and have a pint and walk down to Bould Biddy’s and things are just starting. A very different feeling than last night though. A different clientele, more settled and when we start playing it begins to feel closer to Cleary’s than anything else. People standing and listening break into song and everyone shushes the crowd silent for a respectful listen. Well we’re rolling along and Padraig the box player who apparently is a fine musician and also a fine drinker is soon leaning into me while talking to some mates, and I’m having to lean into him to avoid being pushed from my stool. I’m twisted around trying to play and it’s like stepping into Ciaran Carson’s Last Night’s Fun. Music, pints, fighting for a perch to play on…..great stuff!
Maggie sings a couple of songs and then after a good many pints belts out an absolutely filthy song that has us all rolling. We’ve got it recorded and I hope it sounds good when I go through and listen to it all.
Don’s got everyone eating out of his hand playing the Paragon and singing blues and old swing. We do Galway Girl which Don seems convinced is a bad choice and the whole pub is singing it in the first couple of measures. We’ve lost any sense of time and hear that Brid the owner wants to go home she finally turns off the lights while John is piping the last tune. I grab Maggie and tell her Morgan has a great joke about Limerick’s that she’ll love. As Morgan tells it he delivers the joke which she howls over then grabs his arm pulls it into her breasts, won’t let go and starts chanting one filthy Limerick after another into his ear. Brid insisted on giving me a Mayo hat, and four cigarette lighters for all of us and pays for the last pints as well. As I’m on my way out the door a young man puts out his hand to shake it. I put down my case and as he grasps my hand he tells me he’s been listening to Dan and Johnny for years and it was the first time he’d heard them have to really push to keep up and with a group of Americans, “good on ya” he said. I thanked him sincerely. We had lots of positives from everyone who approached us. From the woman who thought that Raglan Road should be unaccompanied only to effusively praise James’ rendition