A rare moment of sunshine inspired us to get out and about on a hike up a valley to an abandoned village in a completely isolated spot. Ten thousand sheep and the kind of solitude that inspires great songs and very strong drink! Caught this pic of the boys perched on a wall, the purpose of which was beyond us, since the sheep could easily get over it. Rick seems to be trying to snort digestive biscuits, so it’s obviously a strange place. The village, actually three houses, was apparently occupied by a murderous chap who was eventually hanged at the penitentiary at Tralee. No rose, I think… (James)
We just got back from a nice walk. We’d seen this sign pointing to a stone circle and thought we’d check it out. Once again James drives us down a narrow lane for quite some distance and came to what was left of a stone circle inside of a fenced meadow with sheep in it. Not terribly impressive, but a Mrs. Healy greeted us and told us there was a nice hike that led to an abandoned “village” . We had to cross their land so we paid 16 euro for the four of us and off we trudged. Unlike yesterday Mrs. Healy is a warm and friendly person, so giving her the money felt fine. So down the track, across a stile then over a bridge and after that a barely discernible path most of the time. The ground was about half bog and half firm, but my boots from REI came through. Not even the hint of dampness inside the boot though I sank pretty deep at times. Poor Morgan and James didn’t have appropriate foot wear so they didn’t fare so well. We climbed and climbed, all the time surrounded by sheep on every side over some truly spectacular but desolate country. Once we got to the top of a ridge looking down into the valley we saw a trail marker above us and realized we’d gotten off track, so moved up to it and finally looked down into the old settlement. It sits right at the base of the mountain that forms the end of the Cummeengeera with steep cooms climbing up the mountain behind the settlement. A crazy place to live, but it turns out that one Cornilius O’Sullivan Rabach lived there and he was a real piece of work. A two time murderer who was finally captured and hung in 1831. The population ranged from 29 in 1841 to 7 in 1871 . It had to have been abandoned a long time back because all that shows are walls, no roofs, or any wooden sections that we could see from that distance. It would have been a long walk in or out and pretty meager in the best of times. We chose not to hike down into it. The going would have been tough, boggy and were fine staying where we were. Back we went reversing our steps but seeing the return of course in the opposite direction. A really beautiful sight and well worth the effort. (Rick)
Last night we headed to Kenmare in search of a session. After several tries we spotted a fellow sitting in the window with a fiddle case. It turned out that John was waiting for a ride to Kilgarvan, where there was a nice session with several very good players. It being Kerry, there was a nice mix of polkas and slides in amongst the reels and jigs. Brilliant playing from Eamon on box and John on a lovely David Boyle banjo, with Noreen and Dick on fiddles, folks we heard last night at Lake House. Paddy showed up later with another box, and there was a fellow from Brittany on guitar. with the addition of Morgan on fiddle, Rick on guitar, James on whistle and Don on mandolin and Anne on flute, Lisa on bodhrán, it was a mighty session. There was a lovely old man at the bar with a whiskey and a Guinness in front of him and two teeth in his head, Mike, an enthusiastic listener, who graced us with a song, The Queen of Society, which has, unknown to him, a video on YouTube. Just search for Kilgarvan! Fair play! (James)
Woke up today and it’s a rain day. It hasn’t stopped all day so we’re sitting in and practicing tunes and trying to stay warm. I’m going to drive up the hill to the little store and see about scoring some coal so we can get it warm in here.
Morgan and I got up the hill to O’Shea’s store and met the proprietress who was a very nice woman. We bought a large bag of scrap wood for 4 euro and a bag of Polish coal for 8.80 euro as well as a few edible items we needed and then decided to go down to the bay and stopped in at O’Sullivan’s to see if we could grab a bottle of whiskey at James’ request. We weren’t sure if what they offered would work for James, so didn’t get a bottle. I was driving around a turn quite carefully and we almost hit a very large truck, looked like a garbage truck or something on that order, and he wouldn’t give an inch. I had to back up and keep backing up until we found a spot barely wide enough to pull up against the bank and he edged around us and avoided scraping us by mere inches. Bejesus that was close and bloody scary. Got back to the cottage and banked a good fire and finally drove the chill out of the place. We drove hot blooded Don out of the room as well, but the rest of us were warm at least. We played some new tunes and we’re getting some new sets together and are now getting dinner made. We’re having a lot of fun.
After dinner we got our instruments in the car and went to see if we could find a session in Kenmare. We only found one possibility at a pub called Crowley’s, but continued around the town and saw a fellow reading a paper in a shop window. We saw his fiddle case next to him and Morgan went in to ask him about a session. I followed in and saw a banjo case leaning up against the wall. He showed us his banjo, a David Boyle made in Ireland, a very nice instrument. He told us that the only real session was up in Kilgarvan a village we’d been through a couple of days back, and that if we wanted to head up there we’d be welcome. We thanked him and discussed it with James and Don and decided to go. We actually beat John the banjo/ fiddle player to Reilley’s ( we weren’t too obvious in our enthusiasm ) and soon a number of players showed up. A great group of folks and some fine players with great tunes and good spirits. It was what we’d been looking for since we’d come over and it felt so good. We were high on playing. There were John on banjo, Eamon on box, Pauly on box, with Ann on flute, Noreen on fiddle, Lisa on bodhran, Morgan, James, Don and myself. There was another guitarist from Brittany as well, nice guy and a good player. I had a funny discussion with Ann and Lisa and mentioned the Lake House session and how it was a bit slow for us. They asked who was there and when I mentioned there were four box players they laughed and said no wonder!! We received some sincere compliments on our playing, and we gave many as well. Mike Doyle sang a couple of great songs as well. Fair play Mike. What a night! (Rick)
Yesterday we took Jack up country and dropped him off at a train station. He had to get up to Dublin to fly out today. He’s got Grayson’s graduation to get to and promised he’d call Ally and let her know more about the fun and frolics we’ve been up to. We drove back through Killarney and decided to take the road through the National Forest which turned out to be a gorgeous drive. The mountains here are very old, more like the Smokey’s, but they are really beautiful, though barren of forest, only sparse with trees in the upper reaches, they are green between all the rocks because of all the rain.
We stopped at a fish wholesaler on the way back to the cottage and Morgan who knows his fish took the lead. Turns out that this was a processing house and must do it for all the stores and restaurants in the area. They had fresh fish and that meant NO fishy odor. we selected some halibut and bought a kilo for 13 euro. Morgan broiled it and oh my God! There was nothing but satisfied sounds at table. We heard there was a session at a pub called The Lake House, so off we went. Nice pub, friendly folks but the session had very little energy, and there were four box players! We’d left our instruments in the car, so we listened, had a pint of Murphy’s and called it a night. We played Canasta. I’d been telling the guys how much fun the game was and found a rules book in Killarney yesterday so after some halting starts we got the hang of the game and had a great time. I think I’ve got some Canasta buddies now
We left Co Clare and drove down to Lauragh, co Kerry, pausing on the way in Killarny to look around an Irish music shop, where Jack, Don and I bought travel whistles…Sheila O’Sullivan, the lovely lady who owns the property we’re renting here suggested a bar in Tousist for dinner, so we drove over there and found a lovely fishing village with a pub. Ordered pints of Murpheys and salmon and chips, which was all beyond delicious, then asked the landlady if we could play a few tunes.She consented, so we did our thing, and soon the place was hopping. Free pints followed, and when Jack asked if we could come back tomorrow, she said ‘Come back any night. come back every night!’ Good times!