Sunday, July 05, 2009

Willie Week - Sunday

I arrived at the Shannon Airport about 6 AM Sunday morning. Once through customs, I got some Euros from the ATM, topped up my borrowed phone, and had some breakfast before boarding the bus to Ennis at 8 AM. (To orient yourself to the geography of the area, see the maps in my July 4, 2009 post.)

Ennis was deserted. Being a Sunday morning, the entire town was still asleep. I had hoped to see others carrying instruments with whom I could share a cab. No such luck, so I took the cab all by myself to Miltown Malbay. A bit of a splurge, but there weren't a lot of choices. The driver was a traditional music fan and gave me advice on how to navigate Willie Clancy Week. The scenery of rural western Ireland was lovely, and I enjoyed a front seat view. (Cabbies in Ireland who ferry only one person put them in the front passenger seat and talk to them as though they were already friends.)

When we got to Miltown Malbay, my instructions were to ask anyone directions to Alish O'Sullivan's in Church Street. We found Church Street - not because there was a sign but because we saw the church - and sure enough, people near the church directed us to her bed and breakfast. There, I received a warm welcome and another breakfast. I met the other lodgers and after breakfast took some pictures. From the front bay window of the B&B and from our bedroom we can see the Cliffs of Moher and the Atlantic Ocean. There are cows and horses grazing at the side of the house and a ruin likely from the 15th century Kilfarboy Church just across the street.

(To make the pictures larger, double click the first one.
Then, on the Picasa Web site, click on Slideshow.)

Lauren and Danika, my roommates, arrived from Dublin by car around 3 pm. While they got settled, I scoped out the town which is about the length of eight New York City blocks. I popped into a few pubs to check out the music, browsed through a few gift shops, and bought a book. Walking home, I called my husband and we chatted a bit.

Back at the B&B I joined Lauren and the other guests in the living room for some tunes. Everyone in the B&B was connected with the festival. We are an international group: an uillean piper from Colorado in the US, another piper and a flute player from Austria, then Lauren (flute player) from NYC who is currently living in Dublin, and her Czech friend Danika who is a set dancer. And me. A few others arrived later on Sunday. All in all, there were probably about 15 of us staying there.

Hunger drove Lauren, Danika, and me back into town for dinner. I had no problem sticking to a vegetarian diet. A spare vegetarian meal was available on the plane (I forgot to order it in advance), and fish is plentiful in these coastal towns.

After dinner we picked up a few items at the local market, then found ourselves a pub. The first one was uncomfortably crowded, but the second one was better. We were able to get a spot (not a seat) near a table and ordered drinks. Soon a few chairs in the circle of players opened up, so Lauren and I moved into them and pulled out our flutes. Many of the tunes were familiar, so I was able to play along. For me, it was a very gratifying scene. Six summers ago I came to Ireland, completely ignorant of traditional music but curious. Tonight I was back, participating as a player. Not the best player, certainly, but not the worst either. I am learning a new instrument, new repertoire, and new musical conventions. But at this point I am definitely able to join in and participate. I look forward to a fantastic week!

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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