Trip To Ireland May-June 2024

I’m setting this page up for our next trip to Ireland. We’re going to spend our time in Cork, Kerry, Galway, Clare and Mayo. I’ve been texting or emailing our friends in Ireland who seem to be as excited as we are. Morgan and his wife Peg, James and Bridget and I will be the travelers. Don doesn’t tolerate the rigors of modern travel and has opted out. We’ve tried to twist his arm but he knows what he can handle better than us and we honor his choice.

Over the St. Patrick’s holiday our fans in Spokane got a taste of a change we’ve made in our sound. For those of you who may follow from afar I’ll bring you up to speed. My main instrument has always been guitar. I play some banjo, tenor guitar and percussion. A few years ago I was gifted, from a very dear friend a 5 course Cittern, it’s a magnificent instrument made in England by Stephen Sobell. It belonged to her husband who died unexpectedly, a man I knew and whose instruments I’d worked on over the years. I’ve been playing it more and more and on this trip it is the instrument I’m taking. I love playing accompaniment and the cittern requires a different approach than guitar. Outlining chords with arpeggiation, counterpoint, harmonization, snippets of the melody, it’s a less muscular style and allows the melody to float. My bandmates and I love how it’s transforming our sound. I still like playing guitar and our good friends in Clare, banjo makers Tom Cussen and his son Fintan are going to loan me a guitar to have on hand while in Ireland, but I’m likely to have the cittern in my arms most of the time.

I’ve been reading through all the Ramblings and Musings from 2012-2018. It’s been fun to read of our adventures and be reminded of events that have become a little less clear in memory. We’ve had some great adventures, met some amazing people, made great friends and all because we’ve followed the muse of music. Our dear friend Tommy Neilan described it best. He said sharing the music and culture is like having an invisible passport that gets stamped each time you sit down with strangers. Once the stamp is in your book your strangers no longer. One of my cherished memories was from a session in Gort. I’d pulled up a stool next to an older gentleman who was playing box. I sat next to him because he was so solid and clearly a fine musician. We played through some sets and he leaned over to me and said “you’ve a good ear for the tunes.” I floated out of that session and shared the pleasure of making music with a man I’ve not seen since, but I will not forget him. That’s the power of music, it’s a healing and unifying force and one you can share anywhere in this world.

We’re certain to spend time with so many of our friends in Westport and Newport, we’re going to visit with Wayne Sheehy down in Cork, we’ve not seen him in ages. Kilcrohane here we come! (See the post A Great Day In Kilcrohane). We’re also excited with the prospect of making new friends, sharing tunes and pints with people we’ll meet this trip. I wonder how young Patrick the banjo player in Sligo is doing? (See photo at top). He’s a young man now and if he’s still playing banjo he’ll be amazing. Also Niall in Galway, we met he and his brother and family in a session at the Neilan’s. Niall could hardly hold the flute level he was so small but last we heard he’d won all Ireland in his age group, he’s probably 17 or 18 now.