How It’s Irish: He’s writing this FROM Ireland, and it’s ABOUT Ireland! Go Dan!
In which Dan Neely tells us about Clare, people he’s met, and… ostriches and emus…
New York Irish Arts Folks,
I’m writing to you from the north part of County Clare where I’m on vacation with my family. Good news is that Ireland is still here! Bad news is that an invasive species has invaded the county. (More on that later.)
First thing’s first: if you’re ever in Ballyvaughn on a Wednesday, keep in mind there are some nice tunes at Greene’s. Seán Tyrrell is the host and he does it with a great backer named Fergal (I think?) and the extremely fine fiddle player Liam Lewis (who, I understand, learned from the notoriously cagey Paddy Fahy). Incidentally, Seán will be kicking off the Don Meade’s “Blarney Star” fall season at Ireland House on September 21. It’ll be a great evening of music, so I’d say you’ll want to make it out for that one.
I also had tunes over at Clare concertina legend Chris Droney’s house. It was awesome. His daughter, Ann Kirrane was there and she has an album out called One Small Star. Ann will be in the states in October, so keep your eyes open for her.
Speaking of free reed players, Gail and I spent a evening in Doolin with box player Martin O’Connell and his girlfriend Marie-Louise Bowe (who will be back in NYC in the fall, hopefully after Martin’s Triogue Ceili Band smites all comers at the Fleadh). We met up at O’Connor’s Pub for dinner, where we spent a good little while checking out Hugh Healey, Kevin Griffin &co.:
Food was great, and they poured an excellent pint of Guinness. Afterward, we went over to McGann’s and said hello to Blackie O’Connell (who was going to be meeting up with Matt Mancuso).
Banjo players: if you’re ever in Galway, go to Tom Cussen’s Clareen Banjo shop! He’s hilarious and makes an amazing banjo. (It’s like banjo nirvana up there!) Also, check out some of his CDs – he runs the group Shaskeen and has done a banjo/sax CD with Tony Howley (if you like the “At The Racket sound” you’ll totally dig their album).
In other news, West Clare has been overtaken by emu and ostriches. They were brought in to take care of the grub problem, and the abundance of burren rocks seemed to be a symbiotic fit for these large birds that have to swallow stones to aid in digestion. Problem is, they rocks were so effective that they became too successful and kind of a problematic & invasive species – they’re literally everywhere and they’re totally not cool.
Apparently, Emu and ostriches have become to Clare what Canada geese are to the tri-state area. And let me say this: the make a real mess. They had to put up signs on the burren and hire people to shoo these dangerous animals away from tourists.
In closing, the other day in the car I heard the track “St. Ruth’s Bush/Fire in Clann Ratha” from Dylan Foley’s album Hup! on RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta, which was awesome. I’m not saying that Dylan should win the All-Ireland, but yeah, really I am.
See you later!