Another Day In Musical Paradise

I wake up at John and Maria’s around 10:30. John’s already taken off for work and everyone else is still asleep. So I type up the previous days activities and get my bearings. It’s hard work enjoying yourself; playing music til’ the wee hours, but what the heck, somebodies got to do it! So after having a nice breakfast at the McGing’s we hopped in the car and came back to Castlebar. After I went to bed at 3:00 am James and Morgan stayed on with Maria, Maggie Kelleen, and John and Maggie McGing and kept at it until 4:30. That’s some serious partying. Their stamina is impressive and I’d say it puts them in the professional category. So we all come back and everyone but me hops into bed for a nap.

After naps we get ourselves together to visit Mick Mulcrone and his wife Mary. They moved over here from the States about 15 years ago. Mick was a professor of media studies at Portland State and retired. By his last name you can tell he is of Irish heritage and the home that they renovated had once been in his family and had come up for sale, so it’s now in the family once again. Its a very nice old stone cottage that had fallen into real disrepair and Mick and Mary have put a tremendous amount of work into it and it’s now a beautiful, tidy and cozy place. Mick says they never stop working on it but it certainly looks to me like it’s worth the effort. Mick is also a fine musician on both flute and bouzouki and a fine singer as well. He has a nice tenor voice that cuts right through the noise of a pub. Gary Leahy joined us so we met at his place and followed him over to Mick and Mary’s. Padraig and Els were there when we arrived, so good company all around. It was nice to play tunes with friends in a relaxed environment.

While we were there Gary got a call from Julie Langan to tell us she would be at Grainne Uaille this Thursday night for the normal session. We love Julie and really wanted to sit in with her and Tom Doherty again. Julie just had twin babies and they’ve been in hospital because of low birth weight, so it wasn’t a certainty that she’d be there, but the babies aren’t going to be released before Thursday, so our good fortune. We’re going to put off our drive to our next stay in Drumshanbo, county Leitrim until Friday and stay and extra day so we can play with Julie and company. After enjoying Mick and Mary’s hospitality we drove into Westport to meet at Matt Molloy’s and see if we were going to sit in another session with Matt. The pub was packed, which seems to be its normal state; from observation it has to consistently be the busiest pub in Westport.

We ordered pints and a little later Maria and Maggie McGing arrived. Maria handed me my down vest that I’d left at her and John’s and as I was putting it on I felt something in the left hand pocket. I put my hand in and found a silvered paper box and looked inside. There was a beautiful silver pin. I’d told

Maria I wanted her help and asked if she’d help me find a nice silver pin to put on my beret, so she and Maggie McGing found a beautiful pin that represents the children of Lir, an ancient tale in which an evil queen transforms the children of King Lir into four white swans. It’s a beautiful pin and was such a touching and generous gesture. I’m going to have to be careful and not wish out loud for fear of initiating more gift giving. What wonderful friends we’ve made and what lucky men we are!

Matt arrived a little later and took one look at the size of the session and begged off. Matt’s well into his 70’s and prefers some quiet to a busy, noisy space. We understand. He’s been on the road as a professional musician since the early 1970’s. He’s earned his time to call his preferences. He asked us if we’d come back this evening for a quieter session, but then heard through Maria ( she’s a good friend of Matt’s ) that he had said that because he didn’t want to disappoint us. We asked Maria to let Matt know that we were honored to play with him the night before and had no desire to impose. We were grateful for the time spent with him. He’s a real gentleman! Instead of playing at Molloy’s we walked across the small alley to The Porter House just next door and sat in with Mick Mulcrone and John Deery for an impromptu session which was low key, relaxing and great fun. Also present was a fine gentleman named Paul whom we’d met at McGing’s two years ago playing box. He has a fine baritone and sings wonderful songs as well. Tonight we’re going to take Els and Padraig out for dinner and then try out a session here in Castlebar that we were told about at McCarthy’s pub. More on that later.

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