A princely gift

Morgan and I had agreed to meet Julie in Newport at the National School. We waited a little while and Julie pulled in and guided us out to the hotel in Mulranny, situated further north along the shore of Clew Bay. On the way she diverted to a lane marked Kilbreen Cemetery. Down a twisting little lane that eventually opened up to a very old cemetery along the shore with a breath taking view of Clew Bay, Beare Island some of the smaller islets and Croagh Patrick looking down on it all. The cemetery is dominated by a circular stone wall in its center that is built atop a much older pre-Christian burial site. There’s no earth visible within the circle but it is filled with stones, large flat stones, like you would see over a sarcophagus inset into a floor. Very old inscriptions, many so weather worn their difficult to read. In the center is a standing slab with a carving of the Goddess Mother, the pagan quite at home with the younger religion. Morgan and I were very touched that Julie chose to show us to this spot. It has a very peaceful feeling.

We wound back out the lane to the main road and followed Julie to the Mulranny Park Hotel, which has a magnificent view of Clew Bay and environs. We walked up the drive to the Hotel and found Joe waiting for us at the main door, dressed in a three piece suit! Casual indeed. Morgan and I figured that between Joe and Julie they’d know many great musicians and that we’d be joining them, but it turned out to be the four of us. We were honored as well as a little afraid. Joe sat down gave us quick snippets of the tunes, told me the keys and away we went. Joe’s playing flows so easily and his assurance so sure that we soon relaxed and got in the flow. There were a few tunes I didn’t know that had tricky turnarounds so I’d play quietly until I could get back in, Morgan found himself doing the same, but on the whole we felt pretty good about our playing. At one point Joe got up to speak and gave his box to a young man who sat down with us. He introduced himself as Seamus Dean. He started a set and played at a level equal to Joe’s, except he had all the vigor of youth. I took a break needing to get rid of some of my Guiness and met Joe in the loo. I told him I was really impressed with Seamus’s playing and Joe said “perhaps you noticed an influence”. He’s a neighbor of Joe’s and has studied with him since he was little and obviously has learned well. We played a few more sets and it was time for the wedding party to go to dinner. Joe said he’d meet us in the parking lot, that he had a little gift for us. We met Seamus on the steps going down to the drive and he told us he enjoyed playing with us and hoped we’d get another opportunity. We heartily agreed. Joe met us as we walked the hill down to our car and handed us a wrapped bottle. We thanked him, told him how much we enjoyed playing with him and hoped to see him again. When we got to the car we pulled the wrapping aside and he’d given us a very special bottle of Jameson’s. A princely gift indeed.

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