Lord Mayo

So a couple of months ago we got this request:

We were delighted!

In other “Lord Mayo” news: Here is what happens if you stretch it to 8x its normal length. Oddly haunting and meditative!

The Towers and Staunton’s Sessions,

Sunday is session day and evening in Westport. The town is well known for its musical focus and Sunday each week is “the” day where it’s all going on. Ally and I have been staying with John and Maggie McGing, friends and hosts extraordinaire! The band and I first met Maggie and John in 2012. They both love to go to the sessions to listen and we happened to be in town that year. I first really remember Maggie and John at Bould Biddie’s Pub that year, that was a truly memorable session, that’s when we really started to visit and get to know one another. We’ve corresponded via email between visits and spent more and more time with them when here, and they’ve become great friends, true friends, and now Ally and I are talking about meeting them for vacation in some lovely part of the world in winter. John used to own McGing’s pub, just down the hill from where they live. It had been in his family for years and he’d grown up in the home that was above the pub space. Westport has always been home to John and he knows everyone and they know him. He’s 6′ 6″ and impossible to miss, is a very quiet man, with an extremely dry sense of humor, a quick, observational mind that misses nothing and the ability to make a wry comment that has you laughing uncontrollably. Maggie’s a perfect match, she’s a keen mind herself, a quick tongue that’s never cruel, and a lively commentator on life and social goings on. We love them both. Maria lives next door, and you’ve read about her in previous postings. She became our social liaison our first trip in 2012, introduced us to the McGings, Maggie Neilan, Padrig and Els McKenna, Mick and Mary Mulcrone, Pat Eade, Matt Molloy, Johnny Fadgin, Dan Delany, and many others, everybody that’s become part of our life each time we come here. Some have become good friends and some casual acquaintances and they form the web of connections that make our time here so wonderful.

Maria’s been really ill, she contracted pneumonia this winter and is still having a tough time. We’ve seen her some, and she’s had a few good days, but the illness has left her weak. We’ve missed her terribly this trip. She’s funny and great company. (I just was speaking with Maria over Maggie and John’s fence and I’m happy to report she’s feeling much better today). So, back to the Sunday sessions.

We headed first to The Towers, a nice restaurant with a little snug in front where the session is. When we arrived Jackie Small, Pat Eade, and Johnny Curtis and Padraig McKenna were just getting started. We’d met Pat our first trip here, he’s a great singer and bouzouki player, Johnny remembered meeting us previously, but Jackie was new to us. He plays box and we found out is an Archivist and Ethnomusicoligist with a deep knowledge of Irish music and a mind full of great tunes, and Padraig of course you already know. With my guitar and Johnny and Pat’s octave mandolin and bouzouki we had a lot of strings jangling. Morgan showed up with James and Don came through the door, so a lively session ensued. Another bouzouki player and singer showed, whose name I failed to get, and Mick Mulcrone and his wife Mary came in as well. At some point I put my guitar away and enjoyed listening to the others. Too many strings is too many strings! Listening and socializing is just as much fun as playing sometimes. By 8:30 the session wound down and Jackie and Pat invited us to a session at Staunton’s out the Louisburgh Road. We sat down to dinner with Don and his wife Sheila and their friend Claudia who’d just arrived in Ireland, James and Bridget, Maggie and John, Morgan, Ally and I, we’d become quite a group. The Tower has great food so we had a fine meal and headed out to Staunton’s. 

We arrived close to 10:00 and stepped into a pub that felt like some of the cozy country pubs we’ve encountered. It’s a local pub, where good friends meet and swap stories, sing songs they know and play tunes. Jackie, Pat and Johnny were already there and invited us in. It had all the joys and intimacy that a small session gives. Spontaneous stories, jokes, songs. Some wonderful singing by a woman named Nancy, who had powerful interpretive abilities. When she sang a song you felt it in every part of your being. We played til near 12:30, then had some wonderful talk with Pat, Jackie and Johnny as well as Terese the owner of Staunton’s. She’s a really nice woman running a pub that’s been in her family for 100 years.


We got up this morning all feeling better after a decent night’s sleep. Made some breakfast and worked on some new sets. One of them a set of slides that we’d intended to work on. Saw that Maria in Wesport had tried to call and after a couple of attempts, hers and ours, got hold of her. She tells us she worked out with a friend of hers that hosts a program on local radio and wants to interview us and play live on the show……..for 2 hours. We’re flattered and also a bit concerned but 2 hours? We’re to meet the host of the show tonight so we’ll see exactly what she has in mind.

As we were driving up Pontun Rd. just seeing the countryside, which is gorgeous, we get a call from Padraig telling us he has us booked to play in one of the rooms at Matt Molloy’s from 6-8 on Sunday and then sessions after that. I ask him if he’s joking and he assures me he isn’t. He tells me that as soon as the music starts for us in Westport we’re going to be very busy lads! Wow! Ya think? So we’re off to Westport tonight to meet Padraig at Maria’s tonight and then we’re off for a session at The Quay’s down on the waterfront in Westport. Man, are we going to have fun!

What we do when we’re not playing

An afternoon at the edge of the world, exploring a neolithic sight, discovered beneath a blanket bog, dating back nearly six thousand years. The Atlantic Ocean lies before us. A panorama so vast that the curvature of the earth is apparent. And the sun is shining!

Our ‘routine’ here involves a lot of practice, as you can see, and occasional laundry…

You can see why they left

This is Dursey island, whence come the Healeys, Bridget’s paternal grandmother’s family. It is separated for the mainland but a roiling boiling sea with three crossed tides. You can get there by cable car, should you wish to, but frankly, now that the Brits aren’t taxing the bejesus out of every man and his dog, the attractions have waned.

The Cliffs of Moher and the gift from the fairies…

So we’re walking along the cliffs, taking advantage of the one sunny day, and having a jolly old time, when suddenly Morgan shouts “it’s a sign!” We turn around, and there in his hand is, I kid you not, a golden crowbar, on top of a rock wall. Well ok, not golden. Yellow paint. But still, can you believe it!?


For those of you for whom this story makes no sense, here’s the legend of the Gold Ring, told by Seamus Ennis:

‘ “The Gold Ring” – there’s a story attached to the name. A long, long time ago – if I were there then, I wouldn’t be there now; if I were there then and now, I would have a new story or an old story, or I might have no story at all – the birds could talk, giants roamed the land, and fairy music filled the air. There was a farmer, and he was walking across the fields one night, when he heard the faint strains of music in the distance. Moving closer, he saw a fairy piper playing a fairy dance. But when the fairies sensed his presence, they scattered into the woods and vanished into the earth. The farmer went up to the place where the piper had played and there he found a tiny gold ring lying on the ground. So he put it in his pocket, carried it home, and took out his fiddle to celebrate his good fortune with a few reels. But when he put the bow across the strings, he couldn’t get a decent sound of it at all, save for the scratching of an old key in an old lock. And no matter how much he played that fiddle, not a note could he get out of it.

So the next night, he returned with the ring and his fiddle to the place where he had found the fairies, and he waited and he waited. And just as the first glimmer of dawn appeared over the eastern sky, he heard the faint rustle of soft feet on golden leaves. When he turned around, he came face to face with the fairy piper.

“I’ve come for what is mine,” says the piper. “For if truth be told, I can’t play a slide or a jig or a reel without that ring.” “You can have it and welcome,” said the farmer. “For if truth be told, I can’t play a slide or a jig or a reel with it.” And he tossed the ring back, and took out his fiddle, and played the finest reel of his life. And the fairy piper picks up the ring, and takes out his pipes, and plays the finest jig that human ears had ever heard. “Would you ever be after teaching me that tune?” asked the farmer. “I would so,” says the fairy piper, and they sat down together until the farmer had it. “And what would it be called?” asked the farmer. “The Gold Ring,” says the fairy piper, disappearing into the half-light of dawn.’