I have to share this story.
The other afternoon Graham and Niamh were having a Guinness at Kelly’s in Ennis and casually asked the barman if there were any tunes that night. He said he thought Peadar O’Loughlin was playing. Peadar is a legend of Irish music and well into his 80s and rarely plays in public now so Graham said I shouldn’t miss him even if just to listen. So I went along. What Graham didn’t know and the barman didn’t tell him was that it was a private function for Peadar’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.
When I got there, there was a gathering of about 10 musicians and they were in full flight as I walked in with my fiddle. There was a crowd seated and standing around them and all eyes turned in my direction. But as if they were waiting for me to arrive there was a vacant seat in the midst of the musicians. I was encouraged by the onlookers to sit there, even though they had no idea who I was. Intimidated, I just sat motionless, not wanting to attract attention, and listened, though when they launched into Craig’s Pipes I hesitatingly got my fiddle out and quietly joined in. I got talking to Nancy, who was sitting next to me and instantly recognised my Australian accent (a rarity as only about two in ten do!). She whispered in deferential tones the names of the musicians. Next to me were fiddlers Tony Linnane, and Maeve Donnelly, then Peadar also on fiddle, then piper Ronan Browne, then Geraldine Cotter on piano and Eamonn Cotter on flute, then another flute player, Jim O’Connor, and then two more pipers, whose names just faded away as my mind tried to digest the horsepower in this amazing gathering. One I later identified as Maire Ni Ghrada. The music was out of this world. Sweet combination of fiddles, flutes and pipes. Irish music – as it was meant to be. A truly magical experience.
This was the session of the summer for me and a memory I will treasure. I have only one photograph as my presence there was intrusion enough.
One day I fear I will wake up and find that all this is a dream.