This will be a summation of our last two days. We’re all rather wistful knowing that our time is coming to an end. After last night we were a bit shagged and I’m beginning to feel all the playing and late nights catching up with me. On the other hand time is short so we’re bloody well going to take every experience we can home with us. No regrets. Sunday is sessions starting in the afternoon. Padraig warns us that the better session will be at The Cobbler’s and we should start at McGing’s but get down to the other around 8:15. With that in mind we decide to spend the morning and early afternoon driving past Cottage Grove where we went with Padraig and Els, and continue out to Leannan which is arguably a fjord, but regardless is a very beautiful spot.
It turns out that across the street from the little over priced cafe that charged the four of us E19 for tea and scones ( tourist prices are beginning to go into effect ) there’s a little gift shop that James and I go over to. Doesn’t look like much at first but James spots a sweater for Zeke and as I look it appears that it’s a nice shop. I find the perfect sweater for Dad and a pendant for myself and as we go to pay James asks if she gives discounts for musicians. As it often happens in Ireland that starts a whole discussion on music, what we do, where we’ve played a discussion about how she prefers the Westport music scene over Galway City which she considers caters too much to Americans, no offense! She’s charming and knocks E10 off my bill. I go back across the street and sit with the guys and remembered that I’d like to find something else for Mom. She sees that I’m back and I tell her the quest. She helps me find a nice silver brooch with a red garnet and after telling her the inflated prices across the street knocks some off the bill to make up for the overcharge at the cafe. What a nice woman. We drive back but take the route that goes back into the hills to Louisburgh. Padraig was telling us the day before that back in the famine some starving residents of Louisburgh had walked in horrid weather past a lake and over a pass to plead with the land lord of that area for help. He kept them waiting while he finished lunch with guests and then pretty much told them to bugger off. Most of them died walking back to their village. There’s a monument to them off the road. A sad, sad story. There were other land lords who were real human beings and did all they could to help. What I didn’t understand was that during the famine Ireland was exporting food through the entire time! Musn’t let famine and starvation get in the way of profits. Heartless bastards!
We got back from the trip and Morgan cooked up a delicious stir fry. He’s a great improvisational cook. We headed into Westport and McGing’s and there was John with his buddy Pat on bouzouki. We kidded Pat about wanting to play and he told us we’d have to pay and dug for the small change we had. He laughed and told us to sit down. John had brought his low pipes in C so we all tuned down a full step. Gary Leahy was waiting for us and we talked him into getting his fiddle out of the car. He’s far better than he gives himself credit for. The couple whom we rented Jim’s Place from Michael and Maura were there as was the McGing’s the original owners of the pub. They heard us at Biddy’s the night before and liked James’ Raglan Road. Maggie our Limerick expert was there as well. The session was great and we didn’t leave for the Cobbler. It felt right to end up where we started in Westport. The session was mellow the group of folks were really encouraging. A local named Seamus who writes these great humorous rhymes recites twice for us. I have them both on the recorder and can’t wait to find them. We closed McGing’s bid goodnight to Maria, we’re all going to miss her, we bid goodnight and farewell to Brendan AKA known as Noddy goodnight as well. He was serving our first night there and so the circle was complete. Aetna who is a real hand full was pretty sloshed and kept chatting us up and wouldn’t leave us. She danced in front of our car and when she finally stepped away we got away.
All of us were sad to know that was the last night for us to play with all of our new friends. We have offers of places to stay when we get back that way. What we can leave with is knowing that we as outsiders were accepted for our ability to play a music that we didn’t grow up with. Our efforts were appreciated and encouraged. The Irish people we met to a person are the most sociable, kind and at times brutally and hysterically honest. You can’t take yourself too seriously because they’ll sense it and take the piss out of you in short order. We humans are all quite laughable anyway and no one appreciates that more than the Irish. I’m fairly certain these traits were honed through the centuries of occupation, oppression, starvation and all the other hardships and indignities of a tough life. I love these people and identify with them easily. We’re in the plane heading home now. Speaking for myself I can state that part of me resides back in Ireland. I’m going to have to return to share it with my new found friends and places.
Here’s Paul Bordiss who sang “Health to the Company”.