Maggie and I leave next Wednesday, the ninth, for our 8th tour of Ireland. We're bringing friends with us this time, something we haven't tried since our disastrous first trip (where we brought a surly back-up singer and a film maker who disappeared on the return trip with all the film).
People always say, ‘we'd like to see the Ireland you love,' so this time we're going for it. Ireland in November: screaming winds, cold air, hot pubs and lots of rainbows.
The tourists have gone home and the land belongs to the locals once again. Being Florida natives, we know how that feels. We'll do shows in Westport, Ballinrobe and Murrisk only this year because we're more guides than Lucky Mud, but all three gigs are treasures. There's also a night with our friend, Donal McLynn (Dude) at McLynn's Pub in Sligo.
Two weeks of fresh lamb chops and sausage, big breakfasts and that wonderful Guinness beer that tastes the way it does only in Ireland. Freezing winds at night, but little pastry shops along the Garavogue River in Sligo where you can sit looking out at the roiling, dark water while eating freshly made lemon cheesecake and drinking hot chocolate laced with chili powder.
We'll spend an afternoon at the Voya Seaweed Baths at Strandhill, within walking distance of a famous surfer's pub that sits on the edge of the cold Atlantic. The baths offer rooms for singles or couples for an hour of luxury. A huge claw-foot tub filled with heated salty seawater piped in from just outside and loaded with freshly cut seaweed. First, it's a little time in the private steam room a few paces from the tub to open the pores before slipping into the hot water, where the seaweed oils coat your skin. After a few trips from one to the other you almost have to be rolled out on a gurney.
No Blarney Stone, no Cliffs of Mohr. Weather permitting, we'll take the ferry to Claire Island, where the pirate Gracie O'Malley built her fortress when not raiding the coast of England, which she did for almost 40 years. We'll visit the ruins at Cong, where the Quiet Man was filmed, then a day trip into the beautiful hills of Connemara. We'll visit the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar, where Maggie and I once played at the legendary Linenhall Arts Centre; then, we'll take a ride to Achill Island.
It'll be a very unscripted tour. A friend has given us his bed and breakfast in return for playing for him in his pub, so I'll be cooking a hearty breakfast every morning for a dozen people. A friend, Joe, and I have made plans to cook a Southwestern American meal for our Irish friends the following Thursday. It'll be posole in New Mexico red chile sauce, Navajo fry bread, seasoned pork with tortillas and sopapillas for desert.
None of us are bringing computers with us, so we'll be out of touch for awhile. We're leaving behind the studio, the new CDs, my novel (now available as an eBook, with a website at athousandbridges1992.com ) and too many hours staring at this screen every day trying to get the loose ends tied up.
Maggie's done most of the work for the trip. Dozens of hours gathering flight schedules, tickets....all the moving parts it takes to get a dozen people to travel as one. A forty-five minute layover at JFK, reservations on the last day at a hotel in Dublin, near the airport. A dozen tired puppies headed home the next day.
Before we go (and this is so hard to explain in normal conversation) Maggie, our friend Greg (our Mudtre'd) and I will make some good money for the trip by returning as pirates for the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola, Florida, this coming weekend. We're actually very good fencers and we love to play with people, so for the last twenty years we've done pirate shows from Pensacola down through the state to where we were the Pirates of the Conch Republic in Key West for many years.
(A note: the money we make playing pirates is far beyond any we've ever made playing Folk music. We should've retired by now, but what the hell. Someday, we'll need replacements...... just saying.....)
So anyway, long-winded as usual, bombastic as always, we'll be back at Thanksgiving. See you then,
Mike and Maggie