Posts Tagged With: Ennistymon

A Musical Week in Clare, Ireland

I have lived for the past 2½ years on the coast near Spanish Point in County Clare. There has been a constant stream of visitors during this time. Some were family, some good friends but some were strangers. Some stayed for a night, some for more than a week. All leave as life long friends.  I have hosted 76 guests, many more than once.

They are all people I meet through music, or the music session, or during my travels in Ireland. They have come from Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, United States, UK, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Denmark and Czech Republic and each has a story. Every single one of them has enriched my time here and it has been a joy to have met, enjoyed their company and shared a shared passion for things Irish.


French Windows


Just last week I hosted three wonderful friends, Julie, Romain and Anna from Carcassone in the south of France. Of course we played tunes, that’s what they came for, but we cooked, imbibed, sampled cheese (sorry, fromage!), and exchanged stories.


The sun came out on the last day.  Lunch on the porch.


Cheese, wine and bread from Carcassone.  View from Caherush. 



It didn’t matter that it rained. I am grateful that we were able to experience an ideal slice of Clare music and musicians in the week they were here. This is what is so special about this place. So many memorable moments, but come next week and it will be the same, but completely different.

So many highlights. Sunday. A pub session in Miltown Malbay at Hillery’s with Conor Keane and Jackie Daly firing on all cylinders, Julie and Romain brought some elegance to the proceedings as they danced a mazurka, French style. Monday.  Fitz’s Bar in Doolin, Tuesday. The cosy Cooley’s House in Ennistymon. On Wednesday a trip to Ennis – a chilled out session at Brogans did little to prepare my guests for the madness of Moroney’s in Ennis where the victorious young Clare hurling team were in full voice and there was some fiery sean nos style dancing from Canada, US and Ireland. A visit to the Burren Thursday and sharing some tunes stories, songs and poems in the kitchen of the irrepressible Oliver O’Connell . And they joined in on my regular Thursday house session with some local West Clare musician friends. The craic went until 4am.  Situation normal.  Oh and what a way to finish! A phalanx of pipers led by Blackie at the Friday Piping Heaven Piping Hell session in Ennis.


Sunday.  Jackie Daly, Conor Keane and Dave Harper at Hillery’s Bar in Miltown Malbay.



Sunday. A French mazurka in an Irish pub.


Monday.  Tunes in Fitz’s Doolin.  Photo Anna. 


Monday.  Fitz’s


Tuesday.  Cooley’s House.  Ennistymon.  Photo.  Anna.


Wednesday.  Eoin O’Neill, Brid O’Gorman, Jon O’Connell.  Brogan’s Ennis


Wednesday.  Anne Marie McCormack, Marcus Moloney and a member of the young Clare hurling team.  Moroney’s Ennis.


Thursday.  Joining Oliver O’Connell in his kitchen.  Photo Anna.


Thursday.  House session at Caherush.  With John Joe Tuttle, Ciaran McCabe and J-B Samazan. 


Friday.  Piping session, Blackie O’Connell, Tom Delaney and friends.  O’Connell’s Bar, Ennis,


For me these musical experiences are enhanced immeasurably when I am joined by those who approach the music with the same ardor as me. It is my privilege indeed to host such people.


New friends.


Blue and green. 


Categories: My Journey, Sessions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Super Sunday

What a Sunday.

After a very late night at the Cuckoo Fleadh in Kinvara in Galway I was slow to get started but discovered the perfect antidote at Byrnes Restaurant in Ennistymon. Yvonne Casey and Jon O’Connell.  This was as close to pure as you could hope for.  It was a sublime combination of music and place. Outside after the night’s heavy rain the Ennistymon falls were gushing.  Inside a fiddle and guitar melted together in the hands of two world class players. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t all Irish. At times the small but appreciative audience were mesmerised. I came away enervated but and itching to play.


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So off to Kinvara again for the Cuckoo Fleadh. There were sessions everywhere by the time I arrived. The highlight for the day was a session with Brid Harper and eight fiddles. At least until the noise from the local lads became too much. Hope I dont offend anyone but I am a fiddler, and for a change to hear eight of them with only a whistle, flute and concertina was heaven.  Great to catch up for tunes with with Moya and Sandra in the back bar of Connollys and with Bridge and Siofra.  On top of 11 hours of music the previous day (including a madcap session with Andrew MacNamara and Eileen O’Brien and meeting and playing with Eilish O’Connor again, after 33 years!) I was well satisfied

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Then off for a session at the Blacksticks Pub at O’Callaghan’s Mills. It lies somewhere between Feakle and Tulla and is one of those rare gems of pubs. It only has music on holiday Sundays and the session in the kitchen, led by Pat O’Connor and John Canny and attended by locals from Feakle and Tulla was a real little window into East Clare. I will talk more about this in another place but I got home at 3.30am, after pretty much circumnavigating Clare, tired and satisfied.

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Categories: Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humours of Ennistymon Revisited


You might recall I posted last week on Ennistymon and the magical falls on the Inagh River. Well late yesterday evening I was coming home through Ennistymon again and noticed the scene had changed considerably.  What a difference a week makes.  Here is a before and after shot and a couple of other photos. It was really weird to see donkeys grazing in the Clare sunshine where last week was a raging torrent.

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Humours of Ennistymon


Cascade on the Inagh River at Ennistynmon


The Inagh River at Ennistymon


Another view of cascades on the Inagh River at Ennistymon


The Inagh River and the Falls Hotel.


Reed beds on the Inagh River at Ennistymon


Detail from the wall of a stone bridge on the Inagh River at Ennistymon


Lonely foxglove in the forest near Ennistymon


Creek near Ennistymon


Creek near Ennistymon


Foam traces of swirls and eddies in the Inagh River Ennistymon, after heavy rain


Tranquil Inagh River just below the falls at Ennistymon


Another view of the Falls at Ennistymon

Here I am in the village of Ennistymon. Or is is Ennistimon? They can’t seem to make up their minds. Most of the shops including the Post Office (who you’d think would know) spell it with a ‘y’. Pretty much all the road signs spell it with an ‘i’. This confusion about spelling of the town names in Clare is everywhere. Is it Lahinch or Lehinch, Corrofin or Corofin, Ballyvaughan or Ballyvaghan. Maybe it’s all over Ireland and not just Clare. I don’t know. I’ll report back on this another time. Anyway I digress.

The Humours of Ennistymon is one of my favourite jigs and as I say I am here in Ennistymon. There seems to be some confusion about the definition of the ‘Humours’ common in numerous tune names referring to places. I like the definition that it relates to the ‘vibe’ of a place and in particular the waters as they refer to the medieval concept of ‘humours’ or fluids, the balance of which make up life. I spent a few hours yesterday experiencing the ‘vibe’ or the ‘Humours’ of Ennistymon.

Sisters and fiddle players, who live locally, Yvonne and Caroline Casey, both independently said I must do this walk. So when there was a sufficient break in the weather I headed for Ennistymon. There had been torrential rain earlier in the day so this meant there was plenty of water flowing in the Inagh River on the banks of which the pretty town is situated.

“Just head past the bridge, through the arch and past the Falls Hotel” so that’s what I did. I was rewarded with a lovely vista as the river cascaded over giant flat steps eroded from the interbedded sandstone and shale. I followed the trail through a dripping rainforest with moss covered banks, occasional giant trees, thick lush scrub (as we would call it), some of which I recognised such as holly and ivy (they do grow together as in the song), ferns, epiphytes and flowering plants such as daisies, buttercups, lilies and foxglove. The swirling waters generated a froth which when it hit the calmer water spread out and formed thin lines which traced the eddies and swirls in the now calm river. I have not seen this before.  The river flowed gently past the Falls Hotel, a Resort and Spa Hotel built around a Georgian Mansion from the 1740s and run as an hotel since the 1930s. The forest opened out as the river entered a thick reed bed. I turned to follow a path up a tributary with its water bubbling over rocks from its source deep within the forest.

I spent hours experimenting with my Canon 5D looking for the perfect shot of, first the falls, and then the creek, taking care not to ignore the many photographic opportunities of the surrounding forest. Of course there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ shot but I am happy enough with the results.  I have attached some of what I think are my better shots. Hope you like them.

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