First Full Day, Westport

We drove to Maria and John Deery’s and arrived around 7:30. First thought I have to comment on the fact that after two years Morgan and James remembered how to get there which is an impressive feat. To get there you have to drive up hill, along some extremely narrow tracks. I was clueless as to how to get there. All hail James and Morgan of the long memories. They live above Westport right up against what appears to be moorland; I don’t think it is but it has that look; rocky with rolling hills, craggy and covered with broom and gorse and it’s starkly beautiful. We were delighted to see our good friend Padraig McKenna and his lovely partner Els, who thankfully has recovered well from back surgery and she looks stunning. Padraig a lucky man! We all had a pint and caught up. Padraig, whose devotion to all things banjo is equal only to Don’s, played Don’s new banjo that we picked up at Tom Cussen’s shop. He didn’t want to stop playing it so he and Don got deep into banjos.

Meanwhile James and John are talking pipes. John is a very fine piper and also owns two sets of Andreas Rogge pipes, both C and D sets with regulators. James has his new set of Rogge pipes, so he and John were deep into pipe talk; discussing reeds and tuning, etc. We left with Maria with John following and Maria guided us through Westport and down to the harbor area to a nice little pub called The Quays. We met the owner of the establishment and he told us how he was flooded twice this last winter with the huge storms that hit both Ireland and England. He had a very philosophical attitude about it very accepting of what nature dished out, but looking at the size of the pub and imagining what it took to clean it up rather staggered me. The session was great. we had John and Maria, another John who is building a recording studio next to The Quays, who plays fine guitar and flute, our friend Gary Leahy from Newport and Mick and ex-pat American, whom we met at the Newport session two years back, and of course Padraig with his beautiful 1930’s Clifford Essex Paragon banjo and the four of us. Great session and great craic! Oh yes, and dare I forget Maggie the singer we met at Bould Biddie’s in Westport last trip. She sang The Crab song to great hilarity. The pub was filled with those we met the last trip and we all felt as if we were among old friends. There’s a real bond between those that love the music and good company. As is typical of a session there were singers among those who just happened to be in the pub for a pint and company and they sang songs to great appreciation. We wound it all up at 2:00 am and got back to Castlebar around 2:30. Whew! That was fun.

Today we drove into Westport and arrived about 2:30. We found the radio station just off James St. and stepped in and introduced ourselves. Aoife (pronounced Eefa) came in and did an interview with a young woman and about 10 minutes later invited us into the studio and set us up. She interviewed us and had us play some sets and it was great fun. She’s a good host and ran the board well because some of the station personnel who were listening to the feed said it sounded good as did Maria who called us after the show. We strode up to McGings one of our favorite pubs and said hello. They no longer do traditional sessions and have changed musical format, but it was great to see it again. We had a pint and caught up on emails, text’s etc. and took off for home base about 5:00 pm. We have another session tonight at one of our other favorite Westport pubs, Bould Biddie’s.

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