About

I am an Australian now living in Ireland. I have been here since May 2014 and have based myself in Clare in the country’s west as I set out on a musical journey. I am passionate about traditional music and in particular the fiddle.   I am here to learn, listen and absorb. To immerse myself in the music scene and at the same time to better understand Irish culture. I don’t know how long this journey will take or even whether I will ever go home, only time will tell.

First a bit about me. I have spent a lifetime as a geologist working in the mining and exploration industries mainly in Australia but also in Africa. It has been a fulfilling career and with my former wife I have raised a family, two boys, now finding their way in the world. My world came crashing down in the middle of 2013 when I was made redundant at the same time as my marriage broke down. I fell into a deep funk as I struggled to accept the reality that at 61 I was not going to find another job in my field. After the wash-up of the financial settlement, I decided to make some changes. I had always had a dream – to live in Ireland and learn to play the fiddle properly. It was however always one of those dreams that you think couldn’t possibly come true. I had been playing since the mid-70s but never achieved anything like the standard I knew I was capable of and for many years the fiddle stayed under the bed as life intervened.

Losing my job and my marriage was a big change but once I thought about it it was also my big chance. I did the sums, I could access my retirement savings and if I lived modestly could make it work.

So here I am. This blog will chronicle my adventures. It will not be a diary but it is where I will drop my thoughts or my stories that will come from my adventures in this amazing place. It will have a strong musical focus as that is what I came here for but I will also be exploring my other interest, photography, in particular music and musicians and the land. But really there are no rules there – anything that takes my fancy. The blog started as simply a way to keep people informed back home as to what I am doing but in the process I have realised that what I have to say and show may be of interest to others and particularly here in Ireland. So if you are interested in traditional music, in travel, in Ireland, in photography or just in stories about people, please follow me and if you like what I am doing then share.

80 Comments

80 thoughts on “About

  1. Nicole O'Mara

    Love the Blog Bob! its really interesting and your photos are beautiful. Nicole – from session in Tulla

  2. Hi Bob. Congrats on getting an extended year stay in Ireland. The winter season should not be too tricky for you. Plenty of time to write and practice the fiddle. Lots of lovely winter scape to shoot which I am sure you will do well judging from your array of pics to date. Could you please send me the two pics you took of me at the Achill festival playing Bodhran on the truck with Nuria. If you could that will will be wonderful. My email is: sfagibney@gmail.com
    I trust all is well in your world
    Cheers
    Sean

  3. Love this Blog, Bob. Beautiful photos, too!
    Regards,
    Piet

    • Thanks so much Piet. It’s nice to know people are reading it. Some more posts coming soon on Galway and Connemara. Stay tuned……

  4. Ciarán Martin

    Bob, myself and my friend spoke to you briefly with the bar man in Leo’s Tavern, Meenaleck, Donegal on the 30th December 2014. I made a note of your blog and it’s fantastic. Do you have a facebook page?

    • Hi Ciaran, Thanks for checking my blog out. I am on Facebook and post quite a bit of the day to day stuff there. As well as links to my blog. Send me a friend request. Location is Perth and I don’t have a beard in the picture. Cheers, Bob

  5. Tom Giblin

    great blog Bob loving the banter and pictures, really enjoyed the workshop in Bridge Barker’s with maurice Lennon. Tom Giblin.

  6. Páraic Mac Donnchadha

    Hi Bob.

    Your description and photos of the Scoil Cheoil in Ballyferriter this year are terrific. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate your geological, Aussie background during the weekend although I do have a hazy (very hazy-sincere apologies) recollection of a brief effort on your part to apprise/reconnect me with Pat Lyons’s exploits in this regard at one point. I just wanted to congratulate you on the blog – it’s an excellent, educational, really authentic and highly informative read, across all sections. And you were right… Cormac and I stopped just short of the full twelve hours (11.40), with sore rear ends, before moving across the road to enjoy further festivities there.

    A piece I would like to add is to compliment the Presentation given by Feargal Mac Amhlaoibh on Sunday afternoon, regarding the Origins, Background and Music of the West Kerry Set. As many would know, this set is predominantly based around the polka (five figures) with, as I learned during the talk, one almost-now-forgotten hornpipe figure. As someone from Galway, for whom this Irish musical form (polka) also would in the past have been almost completely alien and still barely tolerable -except for my fantastic great fortune in having learnt and played loads of them, with the irrepressible Eilín Ní Rordáin (Cúil Aodha) over many years- I really enjoyed this talk. During the proceedings, Steve (Cooney) also chipped in with a predictably interesting and insightful commentary on the “is the Polka a 2:2 or 2:4 bar?” debate – I hope he has his own slot to present a talk at next year’s Scoil Cheoil”!

    Finally, I also congratulate Breandán, Niamh and everyone else who has made this event as special as it is. As you’ve said, it has a very special character and warmth all of its own.

    I’m looking forward to meeting you soon again, Bob and next time, to our having a tune together – Páraic Mac Donnchadha.

    • Hi Paraic, Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I can only hope that what I write is of interest and it is great to get feedback. I too only vaguely recall our conversation. I think it was at Doonbeg.

      As I said in my blog I didn’t really understand what was being said by Feargal so it is good to have your perspective. It would be good if there was a translation of his talk or even if the musical examples could be put on line.

      It will be good to catch up again and play some tunes (maybe even a polka or two!). Are you going to Corofin?

      • Páraic Mac Donnchadha

        Unlikely, Id say, Bob. Was struck down by a Chest Infection since I saw you last, but… we’ll see…! Will be very happy to fill you in further on my recall of Feargal’s talk whenever we meet again. And if we have someone who will lead the way, I’ll happily follow you guys down the road of an alien Polka or ten!!!

        Let’s keep in touch. Keep writing. Anything I can do to help, let me know.

        P.

  7. ned mac

    Hi Bob, great to meet and hear you, (in Danny Macs), and also now, to hear your story, with beautiful visual accompaniment …… I would like to wish you well on your new life here, and thank you for sharing your beautiful musical and photographical talents with us ……. all the best from the whest

    • Thanks Ned. Glad you enjoy my ramblings. I am so enjoying my journey in your wonderful country and in particular in the Banner county.

  8. ncfiddler

    Bob, I just came across your blog and am so inspired by your journey. I will be traveling to the Feakle Festival, fiddle in hand, in August and am more excited about it than ever. Thank you.

    • Thanks ncfiddler for your feedback and the follow. Feakle is a great Festival but i think it clashes with the fiddle week in Glencolmcille so not sure where I’ll be this year. Cheers Bob

  9. Bob, interested to read your blog and about your ‘brave new world’. As a tone deaf Brit (who can’t play) who is almost the same age as you but living in Wales I fell in love with the music and east Clare. For my sins I am now webmaster (despite having no knowledge of that either) for Feakle Festival, Pepper’s Pub and Mary Mac. May well catch you about sometime. In the meantime we’re off to Baltimore Fiddle Fair (in our camper van) later this week.

    John

    • Thanks for your comment. I love Peppers. I have blogged on it a couple of times. I am heading for Baltimore myself so see you there. I will be wearing a Donegal tweed cap!

  10. Oh my goodness Bob, are we both still up at this hour? Head over to your post on my blog… Veerfabry left you another message. Happy Friday my friend!!

  11. Yeah. Crazy isn’t it? I just had the most wonderful night. I’ll blog about it tomorrow. G’night.

  12. noreen

    What’s you fb name?

  13. Hi man! what an interesting blog! Finally, something real and dreamful at the same time.
    I and my boyfriend will be in Ireland this month and we hope to be at your live session!
    Monica

    • Hi Monica. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you like it. There is so much to write about here. If you come over contact me and maybe I can show you the best craic! Most of July and August I am travelling to Festivals so it might be difficult. Ciao Bob

  14. Hi Bob, something reminded me of your singing and playing, which I would have last heard about three decades ago, and I decided to see what you were up to. I’m sorry to hear about your troubles a couple of years back but it’s great to see that you’re following your dream. I have a brother living in Ireland as it happens, in County Kerry; Anne and I were there a few years ago, and hopefully again in a while. All the best, Ian Irvine.

    • Hi Ian. Thanks for getting in touch. There is life after geology eh? Over the years I have been constantly reminded of you every time I went into a bookshop. I have to say I haven’t read any of your books though. Congratulations on your success. I actually remember the last time I sang and you were there was at my farewell party in 1979 when I headed to Cobar. I sung the Parting Glass. Anyway I am enjoying my musical journey and also my writing and photography. Life is full of interesting twists and turns. I’m thinking of publishing my blogs as a book. It would be great to talk to you about that one day. Be sure to contact me if you come to Ireland. Bob

      • Thanks, Bob. I’ve enjoyed writing very much, and still do. As it happens I never worked as a geologist, though I’ve been a consultant doing marine pollution work since 1980. I set up my own one-man consulting company in 1986, doing specialist work on contaminated sediments, and it’s still going, part time while I write the rest of the time.

        I remember your farewell party very clearly. I’d never heard The Parting Glass before and found your rendition incredibly moving. It’s still one of my favourite songs.

        Only to happy to advise on publishing. irvinei@bigpond.com.

        Cheers

        Ian

  15. Hi Bob, great to meet you last night in Cooleys, thanks for the tunes….might see you in Friels on Fri Eoin McMahon (Guitar)

  16. Cam

    Hi Bob,
    I just stumbled across your blog by accident. I’m also Australian, now living in rural Clare for about three years and starting to really appreciate the music. Love your pictures. Keep up the great work.
    Cam.

  17. Nice part of the world. Occasionally get to Peppers in Feakle and to the Black Sticks at O’Callaghan’s Mills. I live at Caherush between Spanish Point and Quilty in West Clare. Type Caherush into the search box. I’ve done a blog on it. We should catch up and swap stories. Bob

    • Cam

      Cahercrush looks great. Beautiful views from your place. It’d be good to swap stories some time. Maybe next time you visit Pepper’s or some time when I’m out west. I’ll keep an eye on your blog and try to anticipate your movements. 😉

  18. Hiya Bob,
    Not sure if you got the earlier posts today or not…Great session yesterday in McGanns-great rendition of Diamondtina drover .- please post the vids you took if you like and thanks for doin them-Im always missing seanai playing because Im playing with him and never seem to have the lens mounted on a mini tripod to capture the moment 🙂 Tnx Eoin

  19. Congratulations at finding a new life in Ireland! I would love to move there. My Dad’s family was from Donegal. Do you ever see Davy Spillane in Doolin? I want to come to Ireland to see him in person!

    • Hi. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Davy is now living in Doolin but doesn’t do regular gigs. He just pops up in sessions without notice so I haven’t managed to catch him. Last week I heard (after the event) that there was a session with him, Paddy Keenan and Blackie O’Connell. One day!

  20. Eamon Power

    Just read your story on Irish Central and glad to hear you are liking West Clare. I also recognize the house you have rented in Caherush. Michael Joe Talty’s old house from which you can see the back of my mothers house. I am currently traveling from Michigan to Caherush for a wedding on Fri. in Ennistymon and hoping to hear you play. Do you have any sessions planned around Miltown over the next week or so. Eamon

    • How cool is that. The house was PJ Talty’s until his death in 2007. I have just got back from a session in Ennistymon. Contact me when you arrive and I can let you know where the craic is. Here or on singersong0@gmail.com. There’s plenty of music around.

  21. David

    G’day fellow Aussie in Ireland. I would love to connect. We live in a cottage in Kilkenny, and have been here since late ’14. If would like please flick me an email. David – djdownie @ gmail.com

  22. Matt

    Bob,

    As an American who wants to move to Ireland in the worst way, your story is very inspiring (not to mention the great writing and pictures!). At times, the journey my family and I want to take in moving over there seems daunting, if not impossible, but stories like yours provide a spark of inspiration and hopefully someday we will make it over there, too! Just wanted to drop a note of appreciation, and say thank you, as well as good luck in your future Irish adventures! I know, I for one, and green with envy! Pardon the pun. 🙂

    —Matt

    • Thanks Matt. Appreciate your comment. I thought it was an impossible dream too but then it happened. Just hold on to that hope. Stay tuned to the blog and I hope I can help you feel a little closer to Ireland.

      • Matt

        We aren’t giving up! But, I’ll be honest, when we initially thought about moving to Ireland, we assumed expense would be the hurdle, not bureaucracy. Wow, were we wrong. I couldn’t agree more with your statement about how you would think that the Irish government would be begging immigrants to come in, make, and spend their money here. But, to be honest, I also don’t blame them. Ireland wouldnt be Ireland if the whole island was paved and had a Walmart on every corner. I’d rather be stuck here in America than to think of Ireland like that. If I may ask, what drew you to to Ireland? Was it just the music? Do you have ancestory there?

  23. Kevin O'Rourke

    Hi Bob and greetings from Lismore in northern NSW Australia. Just read your amazing story this morning and it really brought a tear to my eyes! I have stayed in Spanish Point cottages on 3 occasions, Mum and her family came from Ballymachea, baptised in Mullagh. Their property now owned by my cousin is Eyreville Park. We can trace our family there back to the 1700’s. Harans Stackpoole Mungovan. Now widowed, I’ve often thought of moving back “home” but daughters here plus grandies. However I can do that through your blog!!! Kevin

    • Hi Kevin. That’s amazing. Maybe you’ve even been down the Clogher Road and seen my cottage. Mullagh is rather a sad town. The pubs only open for Willie Week. You might like to check back through my blogs. Two Christmas’s ago there was a concert in the church organised by Marty Morrissey, one of Mullagh’s most famous sons. Stay tuned. Let me know if you visit again. Bob

    • Rob

      Hi Singersong and Kevin,
      I’ve traced some of my ancestors to Ballymachea / Mullagh area as well. Most emigrated to Australia and lived near Casino, NSW. They were named Morrissey; I’m not sure if Marty Morrissey is a distant relative. My wife and I explored the Ballymachea area a couple of years ago, and stayed at the Sea Crest B&B and dairy farm, which is also owned by Morrisseys.
      Singersong: were you at any sessions during the Fleadh down in Ennis in 2015? I may have seen you there, although we didn’t meet. Locals did mention an Aussie living in Miltown Malbay.
      Rob Ryan

      • Which festival do you mean. The Fleadh was in Sligo last year. Or do you mean Fleadh Nua?

      • Hi Rob, Thanks for your comment. You probably are related to Marty. I did a blog in late 2014 on a Christmas concert that Marty put on in the church at Mullagh. You might be interested in checking it out. Yes I was at the Fleadh but it wasn’t in Ennis in 2015. Slig in 2014 and 2015. There are two Aussies called Bob and we both have beards and play the fiddle. He lives in Miltown and I live 5 km away at Caherush. It does get confusing. It sounds like your friend was talking about the other on. Take care, Bob

  24. Tina

    I love your story. I too have been captured by Ireland, so much so that I have come back and put my house on the market so I can return. My two favourite spots are the sleepy towns of Kinvara and Dingle. I dont know if I have the heart to move there permanently as I would miss my family terribly but I just feel the pull of Ireland and know I must go with it. I am lucky enough that I have the opportunity to apply for dual citizenship. There is so much life in Ireland like I have never seen before in any of the other countries I have traveled to. 🙂

    • Hi Tina, I know it’s a long time since you commented on my blog and I am sorry but your message slipped past. Did you follow through on returning to Ireland? This country certainly has an indefinable pull that I have felt nowhere else in the world. I am still living my chosen path but who knows what new adventures are around the corner. Take care, Bob.

  25. …just stumbled upon your blog, it sounds promising! Will search a wifi cafe and sit down to browse trough it properly. I am very sorry about what happened to you, but in this case yes, it seems to have given you the right nudge to follow your big dream. Good luck!

    • Thanks very much for your interest in my story. And also for your good wishes. I feel like the journey has just begun.

      • It surely looks like it by what I’ve been reading so far! I am really enjoying your articles, thanks a lot for sharing all those experiences 😊

  26. Karin

    Hi Bob, we’ve met a few times at the Dungarvan Tradfest and I just stumbled on your blog today and realised this was you. I just wanted to say how really lovely your photos are. what a nice surprise to come across your blog this morning.

    • Hi there. Sorry about the delay in responding but with the summer your message got forgotten. Thank you for your kind words and I am glad you are enjoying my blog. Maybe we’ll catch up next time at Dungarvin. Regards, Bob

  27. Hi Bob just wondering if we did anything wrong to you as I have tried contacting you also I see you have not mentioned us in your blog for August . Could you let me know so we can put it right Tim Thompson secretary

  28. Maggie

    Bob, I’m from Clare but living in the Middle East so it is really nice to read your blog. I wish you many happy times ahead.

  29. Kevin Nunan

    Hi Bob, I’m just up the road from you in Ennistymon. The blog is very well written and informative about the music and culture of the area, even for someone living in Clare who takes quite an interest in these things. So keep up the good work. I’m the father of the young piper you featured last month above in Kilshanny with Davy and Blackie. The still shots were great. I was away with work that night and was obviously disappointed to miss the evening. I just wanted to check if you managed to get any video of them playing together at any stage? All the best, Kevin.

    • Hi Kevin, nice to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words on my blog. Yes I did get some video of the lads playing some jigs. I am just checking with Blackie and Davy but are you ok about me putting it on YouTube? Your boy did a mighty job.

      • Kevin Nunan

        Hi Bob, great music the other night in Cooleys. Thanks for putting the piping video up on Utube. It’s great! All the best, Kevin.

  30. Ian Turner

    Hi Bob
    Fine photo’s and ramblings! Your story telling has evolved, but a tune you wrote in Cobar over 30 years ago still sticks in my head..”Azaraia, where are ya?”. 🙂
    Looking forward to following your blog, and pleased Margot shared your post.
    Best regards
    Cheers Ian

    • Thanks Ian. I can’t believe ANYONE remember’s that song.. definitely one for the time. Though I was quite pleased with that line. Welcome aboard.

  31. Cel

    Hi bob very interesting story I have read some of your responses previously finally got up the nerve to leave you a message originally from Tyrone lived in Australia from 1967 to 1970 now live in New Jersey USA worked in cobra from January 1970 until November 1970 really enjoyed my experience in Australia had a beautiful lady friend in Melbourne however was to young to settle often wondered whatever became of her alas I will probably never find out ps love Irish traditional music was friends with the Fitzgerald family in Melbourne originally from Clare you may have heard of them sorry for going on so long ok hope to hear from you soon celestinedonaghy@yahoo.com

    • Thank you Celestine. You have an interesting story yourself. Cobar?! I spent five years there as a geologist with the CSA Mine, from 1979 to 1984, so I know the Western Plains pretty well. What on earth drew you to Cobar? Now you are in New York. I was there in May. Really enjoyed it. Great spirit in the sessions. Know of the Fitzgeralds of course but wasn’t playing when I lived in Melbourne. Joe is currently back home for more than a year now as he is fixing up his house near Feakle. Great man and great craic. Play with him occasionally. Thank you for your interest in my blog and appreciate you following me. Bob

  32. Celestine donaghy

    Hi bob
    Interesting story. How you came half way around the world and landed in Clare. I also am a avid traditional Irish music fan . Played the accordion as a kid growing up in co. Tyrone. However never followed up with any instruments. I emigrated to Melbourne Australia back in 1967. Eventually ended up in cobar. Pretty much spent 1970 in cobar. Returned to Ireland November 1970. Came to New York July 1971. Have been here ever since. Wondering if you ever heard of the Fitzgerald family from Melbourne ? Originally from co Clare. Wonderful family I knew the parents as well as the rest of the family. I look forward to following you on your blog.
    Sincerely,
    Celestine

  33. Celestine donaghy

    Hi bob hope you had a nice Christmas and new year I heard through a friend of mine that joe Fitzgerald went down to Australia again wondering if you might have any contact with him I would love to chat to him I think the last time we saw each was 1968 or around that time anyway l enjoy following you on your blog . Sincerely Celestine

    • Hi Celestine, Yes I spent a bit of time with him at sessions in Feakle and elsewhere in Clare. Great craic. I was at his farewell session in Peppers. Joe is not on Facebook but you can contact him through his wife Jean Fitzgerald on Facebook. I have checked with her. You know I lived in Cobar for five years from 1979. What on earth took you to Cobar?

  34. Celestine donaghy

    Hi bob I’m sure you know by now my tech skills are rather limited so if you receive duplicate messages I apologize, anyway thank you for the information on joe fitz my reason for being in cobar was working for a company installing new sewerage system l travelled around seeing the country work was plentiful at that time life style was rather simple worked with a great bunch of characters including one of joes brothers Steve .sincerely Celestine

  35. Barbara Talbot

    Bob it was great meeting you. I am delighted to have found your blog. While not music player, I am a lover of Irish music and a very appreciative audience. We share a love from Co. Clare and I hope you will spend more time on the Rock that is Tory Island. Your musical talents would be welcomed by people there who love the music – Patsy Dan, the King, Paul,Daniel and so many more

    • H Barbara. Just noticed I never replied to this comment. Sorry about that. I appreciate your kind words and I know you are following what I am doing on Facebook as well. Hope you are still enjoying my blog. Take care. Bob

  36. nenagh1

    Hi can you send me your email address I would like to discuss a business proposal with you.

    Regards,

    Cathal Butler

  37. Greg

    G’day Bob. A new follower on board. Discovered your blog by accident through a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook. Enjoying your writing. Safe travels mate. Greg

  38. Amaia

    Dear Bob! My name is Amaia. I found your blog (which I think is great!!!) while looking for a
    fiddle summer school in ireland. I play violin since I was a child (I have classical backgroud) and would like to learn traditional irish music. I see you are an expert of this kind of schools. Could you please suggest me a place to go to during August? Kind regards, Amaia

    • Thanks for your message Amaia. Sorry about the delay in replying. Happy to help. Could you email me at singersong0@gmail.com with details of when and where you will be. There is plenty happening in August. Look forward to hearing from you. BOb

  39. Regards from Therese

    Fantastic photos Bob, you can really capture the essence of a place and of course your narratives are great as well!

  40. Celestine Donaghy

    Hi bob hope you are doing well judging by your musical adventures and your excellent photography you must not have much time to sleep anyway glad to see you are responding again to your followers keep up the good work hope to meet you in Clare someday good luck .

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