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.

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!