There’s so much happening these days it is all a bit mad. But that’s life in West Cork. The first session of the Fiddle Fair was on Thursday in the Castle with the two Dermots – Dermot Mclaughlin and Dermot Byrne. Great music and great venue, Dun na Séad Castle. Many of their pieces of music reminded me of the tunes I listened to in my youth and they were originally from Scotland, or maybe they were originally Irish, went to Scotland and came back again – whatever there was a touch of nostalgia for me. I didn’t know any of the names of the tunes but knew the tunes.
It was a gentle introduction of what was to come.
But Saturday dawned and suddenly my day was pulled apart. There was a little girl who was receiving her First Holy Communion wearing her grandmother’s communion dress, worn by the grandmother 48 years ago. A lovely story so notebook and camera gathered up, I headed to Ballydehob.
But firstly there were sheep to be seen to. They were grazing in my friend’s garden but grass shorn so job completed, the farmer and another friend had been rounded up to move said sheep to new pastures. A few circuits of the garden enabled the sheep to be directed into the waiting trailer and off they went bleating a sorry farewell.
Next to the Church where a mass of excited children, newly booted and suited, washed and scrubbed and gleaming were exiting the church into the sunshine, happily posing for photographs. Images of this day will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Mums and dads, grandmas, granddads, aunts, uncles, siblings all in the finery smiling into the lens. Ellen posed happily for me with her mum and dad and grandma. Darling little girl with the brightest smile and so like her grandma in the photograph of 48 years ago.
Then we headed to Schull to track down another friend, whose birthday it was. Armed with a very special ice cream, flowering plant and a bag full of treats and gifts we eventually found her. Spent a wonderful afternoon, sharing the ice cream eating shortbread biscuits, drinking tea and coffee and chatting and laughing in the sunshine overlooking the islands and the sea. Decadent days, but birthday wishes exchanged and very happy we had shared the couple of hours with her.
Back to the Fiddle Fair for the Saturday night session. The Foghorn Stringband with Nadine’s smile the warmest greeting you could wish for. She is so lovely and she and Sammy, Caleb and Reeb are so welcome back to the Fiddle Fair. Their Old Time music, is familiar to us all and really no one wanted them to leave the stage.
Next up were Daimh with special guest Eilidh Shaw. This was a Scottish group, but one guy was from Canada another from California although living in Scotland. The voice of the girl Gaelic singer was as sweet and gentle as an angel and although I don’t have any Gaelic here too I knew the songs she sang from my childhood. They played their hearts out and for some it was their first visit to Ireland and I do hope they come back again.
Jeremy Irons was in the audience on the Saturday night and it was standing room only as the marquee held a capacity crowd and lots of people were just too late to get tickets.
I got in around 1 am and spent Sunday doing the write up for Jessie Kennedy’s new cd, the story of Ellen and the communion dress and generally catching up.
Today was the icing on the cake with a session in the Riverside Cafe in Skibbereen. The Foghorn Stringband played a couple of sessions and they are a joy to listen to and to watch. The lads from Cape Breton, Troy MacGillivray, Shane Cook and Jake Charron played too – making sweet magic with their fiddles and guitar. Others joined in but what a wonderful way to spend a Monday afternoon or indeed any afternoon. I met a friend for lunch at the Riverside and to join in the Fiddle Fair post mortem session so we ended up spending the whole afternoon there. Had to move my car in case the traffic warden was about. In fact I should have moved the car twice, but Brendan McCarthy senior was dancing with Nadine and we were all singing again when The Foghorn Stringband set up for the second time. So it was 6 pm before the lunchtime session finished.
I said to Sammy and Reeb and Nadine that we do this all the time in West Cork – and we mostly do. A mad mad world and here’s to the next time.