A great day in Kilcrohane

We woke up around 8:30, had some coffee, warmed up on our instruments and headed down to Frank’s store, J.F. O’Mahony (pronounced O’ Mannie) and sure enough there were tables set out in front of the store with eggs, smoked salmon, sparkling wine and coffee. Siobhan (“Shevawn”), the birthday celebrant, was there along with some of her friends. Frank comes out with a box labeled Trump. It’s a gift sent to him by visitors from Washington State he’d befriended. In it is a doll of Donald Trump and taped to the back are voodoo pins to apply to the doll. Damned funny! We played a couple sets of tunes and were gratified to see toes tapping, feet dancing and words of encouragement. Eileen stepped around to tell us we were booked for dinner at the Bridgeview B & B, and wondered if we’d come round for tunes after, to which we readily agreed. They insisted we take a break and have some food and then we played some more. Frank’s store is very typical of rural Ireland, combination of general store and post office. It’s been in his family since 1850, and is a delight to step into. Rows and rows of shelves behind a store length counter with many items. A row of old stock boxes from years past labeled with items like “fancy tassels”, “children’s vests” and other sundries. Frank asked when we were done playing if he could give us any payment and we said absolutely not. He gifted us with a fresh loaf of soda bread, fresh cheese and some other small items. A truly lovely man.

We got in our vehicle and drove up over the hill to Wayne’s home. It’s on the north side of the Sheep’s Head peninsula about 3 miles from Kilcrohane (pronounced Killcrowhan’). He has a snug home on land that looks over Bantry Bay to the Beara peninsula where we stayed in 2012. On the stairs are pictures that Wayne’s wife Avril insisted he display, Wayne is a truly modest man, showing him drumming with a band including Bono of U2, standing with Charlie Watts from The Stones, a full Stones band photo with Wayne in it, etc. We chatted had some coffee and Wayne set up two mics in the kitchen and we recorded The Coachman’s Whip set in which Wayne joined us on bodhran and the song Bedlam Boys. Wayne shares with us that he and other musicians he knows really appreciate the fact that we’ve embraced the music, and have taken it in and made it our own. They’re encouraging words, sincerely said. He’s going to come by Eileen’s this evening and drop off a burned CD for us. He’s a gentleman and a delightful man to visit with. Not a pretentious bone in his body. 

We got a text message from Janelle Hiccox. John and Janelle are traveling Ireland with friends Cathy and Timothy and are coming down to visit with us for the evening. We call Eileen and she changes the reservation for dinner to 8 at the Bridgeview B&B next to the church in Kilcrohane. We have a really nice meal and catch up with all the goings on and then head over to Eileen’s. When we get there it’s pretty slow, so we pull out our instruments and start playing and not long after people start trickling in, then John, Janelle, Cathy and Timothy step in, followed by a few more locals and pretty soon its full. Wayne shows up with the jacket I left at his home and his bodhran and we’ve got ourselves a session. Wayne is a very skilled and intuitive player, he’s with us all the way anticipating when we take short breaks between tunes in some sets. We have a very fun evening. Charlie, an older gentlemen, sings a song of longing for Sligo, from the view point of a man who’s wandered the world and longs to see his home, its a very touching song and another woman sang a humorous song sean nos style. Eileen has a good evening with orders and we all part company having had a great time. 

Unbeknownst to us Wayne posted some comments on Facebook about our meeting and interactions. See below. We heard about them from someone in James’ family.

 Wayne Sheehy’s Comments:

2 evenings ago these 4 American gentlemen arrived in at sundowner time in Eileens. They are 4 traditional Irish players travelling Ireland ( Morgan Anderson is the worlds leading bow maker),to learn and play. I know what you’re thinking, your saying “on no they probably don’t get the nuance” ?

Well they dropped over to Ocean briefly yesterday and my god are they extraordinary players . We had a fantastic session in Eileens last night, what great intelligent and respectful players . They are headed up the West coast they call themselves ” Floating Crowbar” and they do defy geographical notions of musical expression in the most humble and unaffected manner. Only sorry the lads in the band ( Damo) hadn’t seen them.

Trip To Ireland 2018

Yesterday was a whirlwind of travel and no sleep. The last few weeks I was committed to getting every job I could out of my shop and back to my customers. With that being constantly in my mind I kept getting up earlier and earlier, to the point that I was waking at 5:00-5:30am, a good 2 hours earlier than usual, and I wasn’t going to bed particularly early, so sleep deficit was high along with general fatigue. I was nervous about the trip, I always get a bit nervous when it comes to long flights, so woke at 3:00am unable to sleep any longer, got up and into the day. James and Bridget came at 8:30, so after I kissed my beautiful wife Ally, we waved goodbye and off to the airport. Morgan’s wife Peg is coming with us for the first 10 days of this trip and her flight went out a couple hours before ours, so Morgan met us at the airport in Spokane and we checked in together. One of my concerns was having to deal with my luggage in Seattle but they were able to check everything through to Shannon so that took a lot of pressure off. The flight case for my guitar is a very large affair, designed to truly offer rugged protection and fully packed weighs in at over 30 pounds. My trust in it after two previous trips is implicit, so it’s worth having to lug it over. So, off to Seattle.

We arrived in Seattle safe and sound and with a 2 hour layover had plenty of time to get to the British Airways gate, check in, grab some coffee and board. I was seated next to a couple of women whom it turned were from Yorkshire, England. Both of Ally’s parents were originally from Yorkshire. We had some interesting conversations and it never fails that we got into shaking our collective heads over Trump and the general madness of the current political climate. They are just as concerned with Brexit, the lies and subterfuge used to sell it to the British public and the hardships that it’s going to bring about. It seems that a certain form of madness is taking over the world right now and most people I meet are quite worried about it.

I slept fitfully during the flight, I rarely sleep at all while flying. I never have done well sleeping upright and need to be horizontal to really rest, but I was grateful for the little I did get. I found myself giving thanks to the engineers who designed the plane I was riding in, to the assembly workers, the maintenance workers and everyone behind the scenes who assist in keeping these huge aircraft flying. The pilots who get such an ungainly craft off the ground and safely back down all get my thanks. It’s easy to take these little miracles for granted, that we routinely start a journey in one part of the world, board an aircraft that hurtles us through space and time at nearly 600 miles per hour and deposits us safe and sound in another part of the world some hours later. I for one am immensely grateful to everyone involved in making that happen safely. So, around 8 1/2 hours later we land in London rather bleary and stagger up into the immensity that is Heathrow looking for our connection to Shannon. We weren’t issued boarding passes for our Aer Lingus flight in Seattle and were told that we’d need to get them in London. We weren’t told how to get them and wrongly assumed that we’d get them at the gate. So as we’re trying to board the plane we’re turned back and told we need to go to some desk and get issued a pass. We speed walk through the terminal, find the necessary place, beg a couple of young women to allow us to cut in line, they weren’t as pressed for time as us, and after about 10 minutes got the passes. We ran/speed walked back to the gate and thankfully they were still boarding. Disaster averted! An hour later we arrive at Shannon to glorious sunshine, temperature is in the 70’s and we’ve never been so physically warm in Ireland. After checking through passport control, which is a wholly un-intimidating process, in fact the man I spoke with asked why I was visiting and when I told him I was here for the music cheerfully said to me “you know, there’s a music festival in Ennis this weekend”. We got all our luggage, it all arrived safe and sound which is another little miracle to be grateful for.

James had booked our car and after we saw all of our collective stuff realized we’d need a larger vehicle. We packed it and headed to Cork. We drove south through Killarney National Park, a wild and wonderful place, stopped at a lookout and met a man playing Uilleann Pipes. Of course we did, this is Ireland where wonderful surprises occur. I was taking pictures and listening to the pipes, he’s a fine player, while James who also plays the pipes wandered over and sat near him. When he finished a tune we all told him how we appreciated his playing. He said he usually plays bagpipes when it’s wet, but since it was such a fine day he’d brought his Uillean set. He was just as surprised that a group of Americans who were into the music happened by and that one of us played the pipes as well and how he never met pipers anymore. After some warm conversation we bid goodbye and continued South.

Our last trip we visited the Sheepshead peninsula, a very beautiful part of a beautiful country. This is where we had met Wayne Sheehy who tours as a percussionist with Damien Dempsey and has toured with U-2 and The Rolling Stones. Just before we left Wayne texted saying that he was going to be in Dublin while we are here, so sadly, we’ll not get the chance to see him this time. We found a road that signed us to Durrus, which turned out to be a rambling country track that took us over the spine of the Sheepshead and down to the road that took us to Ahakista. We meet with Margaret the woman who manages the house we’ve rented, same home we rented 2 years ago, and head up the road to Arundel’s Pub. We’re thinking food, but there’s a big wedding party spread over both local pubs, The Tin Pub being the other and they’re both so pressed for food that they aren’t taking any more orders. So instead we have a pint of Murphy’s, ah! we do love Cork where Murphy’s is on tap, and as we sip our pints watch the sun play on the bay and children and their parents play. We head home, make a vegetable and egg fry up, play a few tunes and stagger off to bed.