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!?

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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.’

Welcome to West Clare

The Cliffs of Moher

We arrived safe and sound at Shannon airport last night after eighteen hours of flights, and rented a car, a process which took almost as long as the flight over here. We met Bridie, the owner of the very, very nice property where we’ll be staying for the next three days. We had dinner, beef stew and fish and chips, yum, and fresh pints of Guiness at McGann’s in Doolin. Right after dinner, a session got started with Kevin Griffin on banjo and a couple of fine fiddlers. This is a regular gig for them so we just sat outside with our pints and listened until the jetlag got the better of us. The view from the front door of our well-apointed manor is of the Aran islands, and Galway Bay to the north…but this is what we awoke to this morning. A little mist off the bog. Still, undaunted – no, actually we CAME for this, so bring it on, weather gods – we had a fry-up and then called Davy, a friend of Becky (a flute-player who lives in Mt Vernon, WA) and he very kindly agreed to meet us in his local, the Kilshanny House, for a quick pint and a few tunes. He’s a fine, fine flute and concertina player, and we had a nice hour together before he had to go home to milk the sheep or whatever. Just before he left, he told us about a session in Miltown Malbay (I’m loving this – every town has a tune or three named after it; we’re here at the Cliffs of Moher, down the road from Lisdoonvarna, etc, etc) tonight, so we’re off to that after a quick stew cooked by Rick and Morgan…