Wednesday 15 July 2015

Live 'Trad' Music.

Live music at the Village Inn, Lough Glynn
I have always loved Irish music. It is one of the reasons I love this country and its culture and people but I have always hankered after finding "real" music. Finding a music session laid on for tourists with the musicians paid for by the pub is easy enough; go to any pub in a decent sized town and you will see a chalk-board outside proclaiming "Live Music" or "Seisún ceoil anocht". We went to plenty when we were courting and living in the UK but back then when we came to Ireland I, at least, was a tourist. They were nice enough and I also went to a few proper concerts where Christy Moore, for example, was doing his thing but I still dreamed that one day I'd happen upon a genuine spontaneous 'session' in some pub or other. Anyone could turn up with their instrument(s) and just join in.

An army of instumentalists fill one end of the pub - flutists,
squeeze boxes, guitar, fiddle, bodhrán, penny whistles and
a banjo.
Well, we may not be quite 'spontaneous' (the pub announces them as being every Tuesday through July and August but "all musicians are welcome") and John Deere Bob tipped us off rather than us just happening upon them, but we have come pretty close at the Village Inn in nearby village, Lough Glynn. This being Ireland, they don't start till 9:30 pm but they do go on till 01:30 (on a legal bar extension, this is not some dodgy, clichéed "lock-in").

2 squeeze boxes and 2 penny whistles kicked it all off, the
banjo player turned up later.
The start is a bit low-key; at 10 pm when we got there the line up was just 2 squeeze boxes and 2 young ladies playing penny whistles but these were soon joined by a superb banjo player. Then at more like 11 pm all manner of other musicians arrived - flutes, a fiddle, a guitar, harmonica and bodhrán (hand drum). There were 12 of them in the end plus contributions from singers not at that end of the pub (which they filled). The format seemed to be that you arrive, unpack your instrument, the land lady brings you a drink, you wait for a pause to tune up and then just everybody knew all the tunes/songs. Nobody needed sheet music. One player would be invited to kick off a song or group of tunes and you could see everyone clock it, work out what their own part should be and dive in. On the livelier, foot-tapping stuff all 12 would be giving it their all, but then when a more sensitive passage was the order, players would pause or go really quiet to let the main featured instument do his/her thing

As well as the tunes (jigs, reels, airs etc), there were songs including one beautiful un-accompanied song by Landlady (Tina), "Bright Blue Rose" originally by Mary Black. Also what are known as "Recitations", a word which everyone seems to say with a kind of delicious loading and the announcement greeted by ironic cheers from the pub customers as a whole. These are long stories or doggerel poems on all manner of subjects, funny farming tales, long 'shaggy dog' stories about local characters or (last night) a moral tale about the dangers of over spending during the 'Celtic Tiger' years and having to pay it all back now we are back in the economic doldrums.

John Deere Bob and Liz enjoy a photo Liz has taken on her
phone. Sorry about the 'finger on lens' beginner error - this
was not my normal camera. 
There is even one old boy, a local character who likes to get up and do a rather random, clumpy dance, a bit of Irish Jig crossed with clog-dancing. The whole pub has taken this guy to heart and he is cheered, woop-wooped and wolf whistled as he launches into it full of beans but then gradually slows (he is quite an old lad) as he runs out of breath, till the 'muso's eventually take pity and come to a crescendo halt and he can go and sit down again. It is all excellent fun and and the atmosphere is definitely within that well known Irish must-have, "great craic".

We had actually been to a couple of these sessions a few years back, when we'd only just finished the build but then they seemed to dry up and we've not been able to find a similar event locally for ages. Well, now, for a few months, we can and JD Bob tipped us off, so we offered him a lift. Liz agreed to drive, so it even meant I could enjoy a couple of pints of Guinness (another reason for enjoying Ireland, though I've had remarkably few pints in the 3 years we have been here).

Red currants ready soon but we need to
fend off those turkeys.
Meanwhile, back at base, what else have we been up to. We have settled the new guinea fowl in with baby turkeys #1 and #2. #3 and #4 are thriving upstairs in their brooder crate with the 'electric hen' warming plate as 'mother'. We had another big pulse of interest by bees in the swarm box and I thought for a while that we might be getting that beekeeper's bonus, a free colony. There seemed to be enough bees going in and out to represent a new swarm moved in or at least some house-hunting scouts from elsewhere looking for a home. We have now looked inside during a lull and now think it is just opportunist robber-bees, robbing out the old, hard dry, set ivy-honey from the old frames with which I loaded the 'bait lure'. You should not really allow or encourage 'robbing' or your stronger hives may start attacking weaker colonies but we only have the one hive, so I am happy to leave the bees to clean up the old comb so that I can re-use it all spruced up.

Quick and cheerful 'Spanish Tortilla'. A long way from the
real McCoy but a good way of using up eggs. 
Then today we had a bit of a flap on when I saw a small but roaring cloud of bees coming up the 'allotment' moving south, away from the hive. Swarm on! I raced to fetch Liz and we donned bee suits as the bees moved up across the pond, past the car port and down towards the driveway. They went, we think, across the lane and into the feilds opposite but we do not now think that this was a bona fide swarm. It was too small - maybe 500-1000 bees in a spherical-ish cloud about 10 feet diameter. We think this might have been a new queen out on a mating flight - they will generally go a-wooing accompanied by a group of (hopeful) drones and a retinue of protective workers hoping to decoy any swallows or house-martins trying to pick off their queen. Safety in numbers.

Either way, it is an interesting development because our original queen is/was wing-clipped, so she aint flying no-where. We wonder has she faded or got lost and is now being replaced by a new queen, or possibly the hive is doing that natural, painless thing, a "supersedure", where the old and new queens are both allowed to lay eggs in the hive for a while, till the old, exhausted queen is 'removed' by the workers. Talking of new breeding females, we think we have now found our third breeding 'yow'. This lady comes with a young (June 2015) ram lamb at foot. We have agreed a price though we've not even seen the sheep yet. We just need to get that trailer tow-hitch fixed to the 'new' car, and we can go collect them. More on this story when it happens.

No comments: