Seal Rock

We awoke today with summer in full essence across the harbor. As I write this, the Aisling Anne fishing trawler is being loaded with lobster pots on the quay side at full tide outside my window.  Seagulls are swooping and diving and in the middle distance I can hear a rooster announcing a fresh Irish day.  Cock-a-doodle-Roundstone. Seal Rock is the better translation of the Irish Cloch an Róin. A man on a ladder is calling in Irish cadence to a helper for more paint. Far off in the horizon, the twelve peaks of the Maumturk mountains are a mixture of light and shadow as the clouds play chiaroscopic chords across their rocky outcrops in purple and blue drapes. Downstairs, I can hear Andrew play a mystic air on his harp. A cream of porridge simmering  wafts back through his sonorous overtones. It’s a far cry from the wild session around the turf fire up the road at the Shamrock Bar last evening. Alice was the attraction, her bowing was causing quite the stir among music aficionados and fishermen alike. When closing time came, they just dimmed the lights a bit and we played on till the cows came home. Get up the yard….


Alice made me promise I wouldn't post this picture from last night... there are no promises

The last pot has been loaded on the Aisling Anne. Bob is on the pier chatting to the two fishermen. They are still talking about his bodhrán solo last night in the pub. He is planning a visit to the bodhrán maker today in Roiundstone.  The sun is adding a new texture on the Maumturks behind the pier. A seagull ignores the chatter of drums and pots to land lithely on the still mirror reflected on the mountains. Could he be busily foraging like Andrew. The harp skips along over the tune-a gift in the still air. The ropes are untied one man aboard the other on the pier still. The one on board enters the wheel house. Bob stands back; a last few comments about fishing and pots as if they had known each other all their lives. Bob snaps another picture; the men pose. All in a days work.  The one with the blue shirt looks down at the gauges. The engine kicks into life, and without looking he slips it into forward while his shipmate pushes off with the long pole. Bilge pumps spurt water out the aft funnel, the purring of the engine ornamenting the splurge and splash of the bilge clearance. They slide out easily from the pier and soon they are headed out past the village. Bob watches as they round the head and disappear into the day. The boat,  bright red and rust, lists to starboard a little to accommodate the pots as she disappears  to the outer harbor. The pier is quite again. Bananas with porridge and honey.


Morning on the pier at Roundstone - a day fishing


 Pots on the Pier at Roundstone

It’s time to go for a short walk to the old pier. Some of the team have gone to Kylemore Abbey to check out the punishing school for girls… oops finishing…. and others have gone walking to Dog Bay. It is a splendid day in Seal Rock. The word is out – Seattle and Roundstone are inexplicably and forever tied at the hips…

Get up the Yard…

Oh yeah – tonight we are planning to play at a wake….



We arrived in our new homes last evening

after a circuitous drive from

Killarney to Roundstone.

 Chris Trotter from the village of Carrigaline joined us... Yahhhh


Carrigaline played in the Claddagh Sunday for Finn McGinnty! (Photo: Dierdre Holmes)


This is the landscape we awoke to this morning.
No Lambscape as in Killarney
A windswept seascape to encourage us into the day
as if we needed encouragement!!
Andrew is foraging for food
Alice figured out the heating dilemma – much to the boy’s chagrin
Bob is wrapped in blankets planning an escape to Shannon
The dancing girls are planning their space in O’Dowds wooden floor for tonight session.


Roundstone Pier at noon on Monday... wish you were here

  There is a short trip to Cliften for some. The rest of us are staying put. grounded in Caiseal
 A walk on a windy beach.. ...think, write, listen to the sounds. Get up the Yard...
 we are thinking about the title of our new cd
 Cuckoo's Clutch
 Seal Stone
 Connemara Turf Tunes
 Its a work in progress....
 Chris Trotter at Dog Bay, Roundstone
 Welcome to the fiddler Chris Trotter who made the trip with us
 we are looking forward to playing tunes with him in Roundstone
 Thanks too to Connor Byrne who joined us in the Claddagh yesterday
 Thanks to Deirdre Holmes for being our Claddagh photographer
 Safe journey to Anthony and Nathalie on their way to Dublin. Great to see you in galway
 Fabulous to meet Danny Riordan, Kathy Dillon (and her beautiful daughter)
 and Gerard O'Mahony from Knocknacarra.
Thanks especially to Frank Fahy (FG), Deputy Lord Mayor of Galway for his facilitation of 
events at the Claddagh. We couldn't have made this happen without
his great attention to detail and his local knowledge of people and places. 
Seattle Galway sister city connection is the stronger for it.
 I love you all

Mount Brandon

Today we are headed west to Dingle to climb the sacred Mt. Brandon. It is bright and sunny after a day of crystal brilliant showers and sunshine yesterday. We danced at Jason and Catrinea’s wedding in the Carleton Hotel in Tralee last evening and had a fabulous time. Irish weddings continue through to the rest of the weekend – so we will catch up with the wedding party again tonight in Scartaglen. Meanwhile there is Mt Brandon and the Dingle peninsula to massage our hearts.


Mt Brandon_1

Twelve miles of Fermoyle beach viewed from the top of Brandon

Get up the Yard

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Inch Beach

The team split up today and went in different directions across the south of Ireland. We met up finally in Killarney and played a lively set with a trio of musicians from the town in the Grand Hotel. The place was jammed – tourists from all over the world; US, UK, Germany, Australia, Africa, China and Dingle. oooops!


Inch is my favorite beach

Alice Andrew Bob and the dancers went to Dingle to day. Bob found the perfect Bodhran and was playing it tonight. Sounded great. Alice met Maaz in the Dingle Record store and after a brief get to know you – the band played a 30 mins set that Maaaz pod casted out to the world. Live from Dingle today – Carrigaline. I swear, I cant turn my back for a minute ( I was on Inch beach getting some exercise) and the band goes viral without me.. Hmmmmmm

I just left Andrew in the chipper – he loves fish and chips – chatting to the local musician about tuning for Irish music. Before that I had to go to Scartaglen church where I met with the couple who are getting married tomorrow – and the priest. We ran through the music selection and the arrangements for accommodating the ceremony. It is predicted to be very cold and rainy in the morning – but the sunset and the clouds tonight with the full moon peaking through say otherwise

today was the best day ever – got sunburn walking on Inch. Then there were sheep….

here are a few pics to show the intense colors and the pure air. Get up the yard!


                   Carrigaline and the Seattle Irish Dance Company oogling lambs at Moll's Gap

We had a very restful Wednesday, hanging about town and mostly sleeping – playing catch up with jet lag. Then Thursday, when the weather was fine – we hightailed it to Dingle for the day getting as far as Slea Head.


                        Inch beach after last weeks storm was very spectacular

We are all looking forward toe the wedding tomorrow – it promises to be a great party. Jason and Catherinea are a fabulous couple and their families have welcomed us in as part of the extended family. Some of the wedding guests have come from as far away as Seattle and Australia…..)

Tabhair dom do Lámb….) it is a mis type on the wedding announcement for the church.

Did I mention that the Seattle Irish Dancer Company came across a wedding party – the grooms’ brother decided to surprise the groom by introducing some Irish dancing for the happy couple. It was indeed a superb surprise. Alice, Carlye, Kelsi, Margery and Taryn showed up in costume and danced up a storm. The guests at the Aghadoe Heights reception were blown away. Great coup girls…..

Inch Sheep

                         Farmer shepherding his sheep on the slopes above Inch beach

Its Friday in Kerry – and yes we have another wedding…. Yeahhhh! A cold front appears to have swept in from the north east over night. A mixture of bright sunshine and cold icy rain… hmmmmm great for high hair and dancing shoes. We’re headed to Scartaglen. I’m sure the Sweeney family will love the song – Ploughing the Rocks of Bawn.

Get up the yard!

Carrigaline in Carrigaline

Waiting a long time to write that – Carrigaline in Carrigailne.The first time that the Carrigaliners were actually Carrigaliners….

The best day of the year… that’s what local Kinsale people were saying. Sun cream and ice cream. It was a fabulous day to be outdoors, walking the historic walls of Charles Fort where the battle scars from 1601 are ponderously present for some of us. What if O’Neil and O’Donnell, together with the Spaniard fleet had defeated the English garrison on that fateful winters day in just over three hundreds years ago? What then of the Wild Geese; the Flight of the Earls; Elizabethan plantations of munster… A course of a different Irish history for all of us. I might be still living in our castle at Rossbrin.

Rossbrin Castle

                  Rossbrin Castle Co. Cork - ancestral home of O'Mahony

As I write this blog this morning, I am listening to the hoof beats of Killarney jarveys heading to work – ferrying tourists to the stately grounds of Mucross House and the lower lake. there is a lyric  poetry in the twilight somewhere between the robin and lark overtones and the rhythmic majesty of the horse.

The plan is a quiet Wednesday – rent bikes and cycle up to Lady’s View. Some have opted to walk in town and just write or read. It is a day of relaxation after a wild couple nights playing in Cork. Negotiating the County Bounds across the east Kerry hills.

Unless you were dragged through the bog and had stone in your teeth – County Clare Burren limestone kaarstic pavement that is – you couldn’t possibly play bodhran. That was the opinion of the school teacher who came to slag our show last night. He had a different impression after the performance. My god, how could Americans play Irish music like that…. especially satellites.

Get up the Yard!

A very stark reminder of why we left Ireland in the first place – the ultimate inanity of people (a local man referred to them ungraciously as PLONKERS) abandoning their cars on the narrow road to cause a complete gridlock over a local soccer game. They completely ignored the parking lot and insisted on abandoning their cars – as if it were unthinkable that other people would have anything else to do or any other place to go besides their game. It took about an hour to unravel the twenty cars that were stuck in a thoroughfare no wider than a tin can – if there wasn’t humor attached there would have been plonker murder.

          Carrigaline playing Carrigaline - All smoke and mirrors - Get up the Yard!

Standing ovation and encores at the end of a fabulous show, well attended and late into the evening. The following images captures the energy of our trip.

There is great excitement building about the session in Galway this coming Sunday. I met Denis Brooks and Mary in town yesterday (Cork town) and we made plans to play in Killarney, Thursday evening – the Grand Hotel around 9.00pm. Should be good. We picked up a few extra gigs in Killarney yesterday and expect a huge crowd for the after Rugby (Muster/France) game on Saturday in the square. Sun permitting we will be outside in the town square – otherwise in the main bar at Scotts. The sun is beaming through my window right now…. oh yeah… the wedding – we are playing for Jason and Catherinea on Friday in Scartaglen and Tralee. Its the best of times….


         Seattle Irish Dance Company in Carrigaline performing with Carrigaline....)


               Lady's View Killarney 2013 - Get up the Yard! Wish you were here...

The cuckoo was heard on the Cuimín na Péasta ridge yesterday. It’s a good omen for the rest of the year. We have been thinking about the name for the next cd. A good exercise to keep the drivers awake as they cross the County Bounds after midnight in the rain….

… Arís


The Village Stables

Get up the Yard !- that’s what Andrew said to the four Irish Gardaí who showed up to clear the house last night at midnight. They weren’t impressed. We were still playing up a storm when a “spy” came running up to announce that the police were here and we were to go…. neither were our Seattle Irish Dance Company colleagues who were fending off marriage offers from very enthusiastic (if drunk) sea faring boys. “Hey sham one of them yelled at me, tell her I love her. Tell her I want to marry her.” The dowry was set to two goat skins (Bob needs a new bodhran) and the deal was set….)

Yes it was a wild evening of song and dance in Carrigaline. After a lively walk and evening snack at Crosshaven and Bunnyconnellan we were met by fabulous local musicians (Chris Trotter and Co.) at the Stables over the bridge.

Andrew at Lady's View lakes of Killarney

Its hard to launch his career when he won;t even look at the camera!

Get up the Yard…..

Finn McGinty Ireland Seattle Session

Claddagh Hall Nimmo’s Pier Claddagh  Galway

Get up the Yard!

Sunday 3.00 – 6.00pm

Please join us as part of the Seattle Ireland Session to raise awareness of Finn McGinty’s ongoing plight and to support Tamara.

FREE concert – Carrigaline and the Seattle Irish Dance Company

Tabhair leat gach uile gadget dá bhfuil agat…. ceol, ragairne agus scléip

Refreshments served

Full bar

Suggested donation!



Get up the yard!

The Claddagh is a very special place in Galway and there is a very special meaning to the Claddagh Ring.



Dingle Beginning

The first robins breezy chirp remind me that I am not in Seattle anymore. Visceral but mindful, each day we become more Irish than the Irish themselves. I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t the driving dilemma of Cromwell as we drive past the castle outside Limerick that had been laid waste by him and his soldiers more than a couple hundred years before us. Sleep in the land of jet is haphazard.

Waking up at 4.00 am as bright as a button when you know you will be at a loss later – its insane. Half the team are exhausted even before we set out. Breakfast was an exploration – black and white pudding…. hmmmm TASTY

tomorrow will be easier… ha ha

knowing we were going to return to Shannon for a 5.0pm pickup of Andrew, we set out in two teams. Carlye and the dancers rented bikes and made their way to the Muckross demesne and continued all the way to the meeting of the waters. A splendid time was had by all – the weather was unparallelled – I think some of us got a little sun burned.

Taryn emerged from a local shop completely reinvented – we now have a locally dressed Irish girl dancer…. immersi0n through diversion.

Meanwhile Bob Diane, Liz and I went to Dingle to check out the woolen shop, and to capture video and photographs from Inch to Ballyferriter. The lady in the woolen shop counted her wares and totted the inventory in Irish, but when things went awry, she cussed in English. A grandmother for years, she knew good times and beyond, and was well able for the German and French tourists that were knitting their way through te lanolin garments in her store. She saved me a good $40 by steering me towards a local hand know sweater instead of wasting my “hard earned” shillings (how did she know) on that machine stuff.

Get up the yard!


The Sleeping Giant, a Blasket Island peeking through at Clothar Beach near Ballyferriter

The sun joined us for a delightful walk on Clothar beach outside Ballyferriter village. In the background is the “sleeping giant” one of the picturesque Blasket Islands. Above Comeenole near Dunquin Beach we were lucky enough to come across twin lambs that were but a few minutes old. It was a treasure of Dingle days.

Dingle lambkins

Dingle lambkins

A Pair of Twin lambs just born at Comeenole Beach near Dunquin

The ride to Shannon to collect Andrew took us over the Connor Pass (Conair means “shortcut” between Dingle and Tralee across the ridge of the mountains) and soon we were back on the N21 heading north. Andrew was pleased that his guitar had made it unscathed from Seattle to Shannon (via Heathrow) and it was still in tune….)

Back in Killarney, Breda Joy (writer for the Kerry Eye) had arranged a gathering session for us at the Grand Hotel. And what a session it was too. The place was jammed (local people and tourists) and a roaring fire was throwing out heat right behind us. Alice’s strings and my reeds loved that….) I could have stayed a month with John Brosnan the box player, leaning local tunes, polkas and slides. Carlye, Kelsi, Margery and Taryn (even though they didn’t have hard shoes with them were happy to join in and gave a resounding performance on the lively hardwood floor. Andrew brought the house down with his rendition of the sean-nós song – Bog Braon don tSeanduine. A Seattle boy singing in good Irish got people’s attention. God knows, Andrew needs the attention….)


The Sunday night session at the Grand Hotel in Killarney hosted by John Brosnan and friends.

The magic of the night was reinforced when a long lost cousin of my own walked out of the crowd and accosted us in a broad Kerry accent – You’re O’Mahony, aren’t you? Family. Its just one big family.

Get up the Yard!



Shannon Landing

Fáilte to Shannon. The bright colored farms and cloud-spattered fields were indeed a welcome sight after a long haul across Hudson Bay, Greenland, Iceland into Heathrow… and finally Aer Lingus to Shannon. The middle seat didn’t help any. I slept for approximately 35 minutes…..) But I was glad to be on the flight after a dense rain-swollen Friday afternoon traffic mania on the I 5 corridor from Boeing in Everett to SeaTac. God only knows what’s actually going to show up in the bag when I see it in Ireland. Classic “lucky dip” syndrome – close the eyes, dig down deep and whatever comes out is what will be worn today….)

The first rainbow at Abbeyfeale on the way to Killarney was a breath of fresh air…. I’m sure there will be plenty others….

I was absolutely shocked to find my bag in Shannon the same time as me – British Airways and Aer Lingus had assured me that this “sighting” would not be the case during the crazy maneuver from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1. I had resolved to be without bags for a few days…. but there it was – first down the chute…. fair boding for the rest of the trip methinks…

Bob and his wife Diane, Liz with her stash of cameras, and Taryn were already in Shannon when I landed. They looked a lot more lively than me.  Before long we were heading across the River Shannon, south to Killarney. Road signs like “Géill Slí” (Yield) and “Slí Amach” (Exit) are becoming familiar from somewhere in the dark recesses of the hippocampus.

We stopped in the village of Adare to luxuriate and expatriate at the same time in historic flavor of this part of Ireland. The Maigue River features central to a literature that connects a hidden fertile valley with a robust literary tradition from earlier times (Slán Cois Máighe is a treasured song  from this era).

The dazzling rainbow cheered us to no end, until scudding clouds (sometimes revealing a delicate blue dome), accompanied by several short heavy showers sweeping in from  MacGillcuddy’s Reeks heralded our arrival at Scott’s Hotel. This is home for the next week and Annette indeed had the red carpet our for us. We had dinner at the Flesk Restaurant and Bar tonight and I was delighted to savor fresh Atlantic salmon cooked in a delicate lemon sauce. Sleep was encroaching, but we stayed for dessert. In fact, had I known that there was fresh home-made apple tart topped with delicious custard I would have started with dessert.

The image is from Adare. We are intensely happy to have finally landed in Ireland and we are planning to meet for breakfast in a few hours to focus on the first few productions this week.

Coming up Monday and Tuesday are the session in Carrigaline Village (I hope they don’t get upset that we borrowed the name of this lovely coastal village) in the Stables Pub (just beyond the bridge over the Owenaboy river) and the following night (Tuesday) a show at Fernhill Golf Club, Cork.

Get up the yard!

Adare cottage

Adare cottage




April Ceili

First Sunday Ceili

But it’s more than that… Party

A going away party for Carrigaline and the Seattle Irish Dance Company. They are about to jump on a plane and head to Dublin, Shannon and Kilarney.

See you Sunday May 7th at 4.00 in Fremont. Yeahhhhh. Its Ceili day. Bring your shoes and your energy… and be ready to sing, dance and play…

Its Sunday Ceili time again. Bring your dancing shoes and your friends. Carrigaline and Seattle Irish Dancers invite you to join us for another fabulous cultural event. Irish dancing, Irish language, great music, food, lots of food, safe place for children, free parking….

Look for a write-up about Ceili dancing in Seattle in the Celtic Connection and the Fremont Centrist this month. You will find copies of the Connection in your favorite Irish restaurant/bar. The link to the Centrist is here:

Here are the details for the usual first Sunday Ceili at the Doric Lodge in Fremont..

Ceili in Fremont – Sunday March 3rd from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Doric Lodge – 619 N 36th St

Music starts at 4:00 and continues to 8 p.m.
Free parking on the street

Family style Ceili and potluck
Kitchen included – bring food – there will be Irish soda bread and tea available
Beautiful wooden floor – bring leather soled shoes for best dancing impact
Live music provided by local Irish musicians
Instruction in basic steps for Ceili and Set dancing

Suggested donation $10.00 per family – the Ceili is also a fundraiser for the Seattle Irish Dancers to travel to Ireland next spring.
Schedule (approximate):
4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Ceili and set dancing instruction
5:15 dinner
6:00 p.m. Irish language instruction
6:30 Ceili and set dancing
For more information, please call Alice (206) 227-8773

Get up the Yard!