Today is my wife Alison’s birthday, happy birthday dear friend.

I forgot to mention that as we were getting seated aboard our Aer Lingus flight to Ireland we couldn’t help but notice a fellow our age coming down the aisle carrying mandolin and fiddle cases. We didn’t have any real conversation with him until the end of the flight and we learned that he owns a pub in Boston named The Burren and plays a lot of music solo and with his family, The McCarthy’s. We exchanged information and gave him a CD. He promised to send Don and I ones from him to play on our show. So before we even step off the plane the spell of the music feels like it’s being woven around us.

I’ll do my best to catch up, and today our first full day in Ireland has already been a very busy one. We landed at Shannon got our car, drove south to Cork and the little village of Ahakista, (pronounced Ahkeeshta). We got established played a few tunes and drove down to the next village Kilcrohane, and stopped in at Eileen Fitz’s Pub.

As soon as we stepped in we were enveloped in the magic of this island. We were of course asked who we were and where we were from and what brought us. As soon as music was mentioned a man named Wayne Sheehy began talking with us and of course there are two Americans Bob and Pam who own a place nearby. It turns out Wayne is a skilled musician and drummer who plays and tours with Damian Dempsey, he also is a friend of Ron Wood, guitarist with the Rolling Stones and produces and edits recordings of many artists. All of this is told to us without any sense of bragging or self aggrandizing. Don and I play Damian’s music on our show, we’re fans. Eileen, Wayne, Bob and Pam, as well as another local Frank want to hear what we can do. We grab our instruments and play one tune and they are quite pleased. Wayne invites us to his studio tomorrow to play and hang out. There’s no food at Eileens so we run up to Bantry and have a delicious meal then head back to Eileens. It’s late and though we don’t play tunes we’re approached by a very nice gentleman named Pat who tells us that he’s heard all about our playing and looks forward to hearing us. Frank who owns a shop asks if we can come down tomorrow morning and play for a good friend of his’ surprise birthday party. All this from hearing us play one set of tunes! He’ll fix us up with eggs, smoked salmon and take care of breakfast if we’ll play a few tunes to cheer up his friend. Welcome to Ireland. We love this island and its people, they open their arms to total strangers because they see how much we love the music and being here. If there are a more hospitable people in this world I’d love to meet them!