I love the Summer in Ireland. Not because of the weather, obviously although as I write this 28 degrees is predicted for Drumshanbo and the Irish Met Office has issued a Yellow Weather Alert for the heat! No, it’s Festival road trip time. From early June to the end of August I am hardly at home. There’s Dungarvan in Waterford, Doolin Folk Festival, the Spiddal TraidPhicnic, Willie Week of course, Tubercurry, Drumshanbo, Achill, Glencolmcille Fiddle Week, Feakle Festival and the Fleadh. At least this year the Fleadh is close to home in Ennis. It’s an exhausting time but there is time for rest in there at places such as Achill. I have attended classes in the past at all of these places but for now I just go to the odd workshop or find a quiet place for some tunes until the mayhem of the evenings.
But of course as I have said before sometimes the most enjoyable parts of Festivals are the this things that happen around them. Including the journeys.
A case in point. As Tubbercurry wound down I was inundated with requests for lifts from visitors wanting to go on to Drumshanbo. I could have filled the car twice. This year I found myself in the company of three delightful ladies. Miki from Japan and Stephy from Switzerland, regular travellers to Ireland for the dancing and tunes, and first timer Julia also from Switzerland.
I love their stories. The passion for the music, their discovery of the Irish tradition in far away places and their pursuit of it in both their homelands and Ireland. They become part of the Irish scene as they are welcomed back year after year to renew musical connections.
So here I was heading out of Tubercurry for what should have been a short one hour drive. The price of travelling with me though is that you can expect a short one hour drive to be anything but. this time I had three willing partners. We stopped at the old churchyard at Gurteen and at the impressive ruins of Boyle Abbey. I managed to convince the attendant that the Japanese and Swiss girls were my daughters and he let us in on the Family ticket. Of course he knew they weren’t. The quiet ambience there was disturbed by the three girls performing a sean nos dance they had just learned to the strains of the Battle of Aughrim. I dout if the Monks would have approved and we fully expected to be shut down but we were in fact welcomed by the Administration and patrons alike.
This day was full of surprise as summer fleetingly arrived to provide blue skies as a backdrop. I’ve said it before and I never refuse an invitation and this time the day ended with us being joined by Satoshi from Japan at the end of a remote boreen near Carrick-on-Shannon at the house of one of Stephy’s dance friend’s for a magnificent three course banquet with, believe it or not, a choice of beef or fish for main followed by a house concert and session.
And then normal transmission was resumed with tunes in one of the local pubs in Drumshanbo until 3 am.