Thursday, August 02, 2012

Did I Tell You About Ireland?

Back in February I got a phone call from an old friend that had a simple question.  "Can you go to Ireland in June?"  Well, I figured sure, why not?  Okay, so I can go.  Why am I going?  Chuck explained that the band he was playing with had a tour booked in Ireland, but their regular banjo player couldn't make it.

I was suitably impressed that I was asked to go.  I wasn't even sure I would be able to learn the material or get a feel for the band, but why not?

It was also a great opportunity to play with a bona fide the bluegrass legend: Curtis Blackwell.  I learned a lot.  It was also a great opportunity to re-explore the music I was listening to when I first began learning to play the banjo.  It was an experience I won't soon forget.  Curtis knows hundreds of songs that he can call at a moment's notice.  I was also blown away by the power of his rhythm playing.  It should go without saying that his vocals were no less than astonishing.

So, how about the trip?  Okay, I'll get on with it.

We arrived in Ireland on June 12th.  It was chilly, and nothing at all like late Spring in Georgia.  We landed in Dublin and then made our way, via bus, to Belfast where we would play the first of twelve jobs.  We were greeted in Belfast by my friend Mark McCluney and then later by our agent Nigel Martyn.  Mark took us to supper then we went back to the hotel and rested up.

Our show in Belfast was exciting.  The crowd loved the music maybe as much as I loved playing it.  It was, of course, my first time to play in another country.

We did get to do a bit of sight seeing.  Since all of our shows were in the evening we usually had a bit of daytime that we could use to get out and see Ireland.  I tried to take a bunch of photos.

I hope to go back to Ireland again.

We saw Blackwater Castle, Inis Oirr, Mullaghmore, a lot of narrow roads, sheep, cattle, and more things that I could list without being a complete bore.  

I learned about Gaelic Football and Hurling.  I even purchased a Hurley & Sliotar and Gaelic Football for Samuel.  I couldn't think of anything more Irish that he would enjoy.  He looks so excited, no?  If you've not been exposed to Hurling or Gaelic Football you should look them up -- very exciting!

I enjoyed the sports, the scenery and the buildings.  Yet, with all of the beautiful country the most beautiful part of Ireland is the people.  I found everyone to be absolutely wonderful!  I made new friends, and that's why I want to go back.  There are people there I need to see again.  


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