We got to Boul Biddies at half ten (10:30), yes sessions begin rather late, hey we’re talking musician’s hours! Anyway…..we were delighted to see Johnny Fagin, whom we met here our last trip. The session was great. Lots of energy and fun with songs added by locals out to have a pint and social connection. I believe I wrote about this on the last trip but it bears stating again. The Irish pub is not about hanging out at the bar and pounding down pints, although pints are imbibed. The drink certainly lubricates the tongue but it’s not about working to get drunk either.
The Irish pub is a well lit meeting space for friends to meet and catch up, to express joy or sorrow amongst peers or to sing an old or new song and dance steps to a tune that inspires the body to move. I’m sure there are some pubs that are more like some American bars, where people stare into their drinks avoiding one another but I’ve not been in one yet. The other feature is that alcohol does loosen the tongue but does not slow the wits, if anything it sharpens the Irish sense of humor and you’d better be able to take a little wry observation about yourself or you won’t have a good time. A perfect example is one on me. I fell to talking with a very friendly gentleman who was working on his drink and as the evening wore on he sensed that I was a patient listener, so I became the object of his attentions. Later on he was well in his cups and became difficult to avoid, not that I was trying, I liked him as he was a good fellow, but I did want a moment to connect with some others. As we were packing up, again at 2:00 am, Johnny looks at me and says with a sly expression; “you are the master of your own fate “. I looked at him and said; ” and you gave me just enough rope to hang myself “, ” that I did ” he replied, and then we both burst out laughing. Everyone in the bar knew this gentleman and his tendency and watched how I dealt with him. If I needed them they would have helped, but only if I was in real difficulty. Drink sharpens the Irish sense of irony, not dulls it. If you can’t laugh at yourself you’re in trouble.
Standing outside to cool off between sets brought fresh conversations with patrons. Derrick who is the partner of a woman we met at the radio station earlier noted that he’d heard that we were self conscious about playing the music we didn’t grow up with but he assures us that they love our take on it, that he finds it truly entertaining and fresh. He encourages us to keep at it and not feel apologetic. Maria joined in with her observations about pipers and how on average they are the most unsocial people imaginable. They just sit in a corner bent over the pipes ignorin’ everyone. Her partner John she notes would be happiest if he could never speak with anyone and just ask for food. Now we know that’s not true, we love John and he can be quite social, but this is Maria being Maria and once she’s into the story………well she’s telling the story, so just sit back and listen. She continues; (in paraphrase) so they just sit there bent over their pipes ignorin’ everyone. Their the most cantankerous unsocial bastards! I never have to worry about John with another woman, no with John it’s the feckin’ pipes he’s devoted to. “Ya know what the definition of a true gentleman is?” she asks, I shake my head no. “A true gentleman is one who can play the pipes and doesn’t!” At that we burst out laughing. Maria is an absolute gem. A master of the tale. So full of wit and style and we’re so lucky to have met her and John two years ago. I feel blessed that she cares for us not only because she knows everyone to know in Westport but because to have Maria smile on you is a ray of sun in an often sunless place.