The year 2009, In review
The twin towers at Brownstown Head have stood for many years on the east side of Tramore Bay, and, along with the three towers on the west side at Great Newtown Head (which includes the famous Metal Man), have warned off passing ships who might otherwise mistake the Bay for Waterford Harbour, where many of these ships were heading for. These majestic towers have saved many a life. Though their usefulness may have been usurped by more modern navigational aids, they are still standing and they will continue to do so for many years more, regardless of conditions. Sure the country imploded and exploded badly in 2009 but what of it. We had a good year, travelled widely, met many new friends and longstanding ones along the way. We sang numerous songs, entertained the masses and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves too. And we are still standing!! Here's to 2010.
Several hardy souls braved the elements at 3 o'clock and went in for a swim off Lawlor's beach Dunmore East, for the second annual Michael Hearne memorial swim. Michael would have been proud of the turnout and the beneficiary of this worthwhile venture, Cancer Foundation Waterford. The heavens opened not long after the swim, so the hardy swimmers had to run for cover, but the rain shower did produce an intense rainbow over Dunmore. Brilliant! No crew members did the swim but one wife and daughter did!! To Jordan's Bar on the Quay (Waterford) then for sandwiches and refreshments.
The now annual gathering for crew members, their wives and lovers (none have turned up yet!!) was held in the Tennis Club, the usual venue, and a great night was had by all. Songs and chat and pints. Sure what more would a land-bound crew want? Aye
A slimmed down version of Hooks and Crookes performed Cape Cod Shanty, Mingulay and Rio Grande to a large audience, in the annual Male Voice Choirs concert in aid of charity (the main beneficiary this year was the South East Cancer Foundation). A very varied concert with all ages singing and, again, a lovely venue to sing in. We, Hooks and Crookes, and many of the Tramore group adjourned to the Munster Bar for more songs and beer. Some lovely songs were sung too, individually and collectively. We were joined at one stage by the Waterford City Manager, Mr Michael Walsh. It was heartening to hear him declare that there would be no cut in the Arts funding in the City in 2010 and that the City Council was committed to the Seafaring Festival (and other such ventures) in 2010. We wouldn't let him go without singing a song and he dutifully obliged with The Streets of London. A great night. Aye!
video on UTUBE shows Hooks & Crookes performing at the concert
We performed to a very keen and appreciative audience in this magnificent Church, with its newly renovated and impressive organ. What a fantastic place to sing with wonderful accoustics and elegant surroundings (probably unbecoming of seadogs like us). We sang Nelson's Blood, Mingulay, Portally, Portlairge, Oro and Blow Ye Winds in the first set and we were followed by two fantastic local musicians, Dylan Bible and Eoin Dunphy who played a number of haunting traditional airs on whistle and guitar. Our second set was Ellan Vannin, South Australia, Challo Browne, Rio Grande and the Farewell Shanty. We think we sounded lovely and the whole concert was recorded by the Captain's son, Brendan and a live recording has now been produced. We were also recorded on video and two clips are on Utube. Mighty! Below is the Review that subsequently appeared in the Munster Express; (a local paper) on the 18th December 2009.
There was a salty tang in the crisp winter air for Hooks and Crookes, sea shanty coffee concert at Christ Church Cathedral. Lynn Cahill has made this venue work and more power to her. The hearty sea shanty crew are now down to ten, as some have sailed on an Unwelcome Tide, but Curly Long has mastered or press-ganged these virtual and no doubt virtuous singers into a fine lot of matelots. They have vim, vigour and vitality and a full fathom five basstone to enjoy. And they enjoy themselves too. Opening with a drop of Nelson's Blood (Nelson's body was preserved in a barrel of rum before burial). This crew have interspersed a a local touch to the refrains to include Irish Stew, jug of grog, boat on the Quay, a night out with the girls, a good stiff . . . breeze, a tray of Harney's blaahs in the arms of Katty Barry. With a lusty – Ahoy There, they were off to the Hebrides for Mingulay Boat Song, then they rant and roar like Portally boatmen, before Joe, on button accordion, sailed them ashore at Port Lairge.
An, Oro Se Do Beatha Bhaile, gave us a glimpse of the beginning of summer as they sailed Ten Thousand Miles Away. Eoghan Dunphy and Dylan Bible provided a lively intermission as the shanty singers rested their oars. Eoghan on flute delighted with a Whistling Boatman who had found love and was no longer Lonesome. Dylan Bible provided guitar accompaniment and Eoghan amazed the audience with his own slow air – Eoghan's Own. Tom Mullane led the Hooks And Crookes back with a fine Ellen Vanin from the Isle Of Man (Oilean Mhanainn). A tribute was paid to the late Liam Clancy with South Australia and the deep tones for a spiritual Challo Browne was beautiful. Curly Long led them out into a majestic Rio Grande before an excellent finale, a Cornwall Christmas favourite, The Farewell Shanty.
Tim Sherman, an esteemed crew member, was 70 recently and, in line with tradition, the crew presented Tim with a replica of the Dunbrody after rehearsal on the 12th October 2009. He was dumbfounded and was unable to give a speech when asked. However, he did sing a song instead, and sure that started everyone at it, and we kept singing till well after our bed-times (though one or two did leave early and didn't sing either. Tut, tut).
Hooks and Crookes entertained Captains of the Tall Ships of the Skies, their wives and friends in an entertaining evening over a few pints, beautiful food and convivial surroundings. It was an especial occasion for the Group as our own captain made a welcome return to the fold and did a mighty job of marshalling the troops and ensuring every note was correct (better than it has been for a while?). And we had no sympathy for the poor webmaster at home nursing his aches and pains. A great night and thanks to Olly for arranging the event and all the local organisers (Joe Daly especially) for a fabulous Festival of Hot air Balloons all over the skies in Waterford all week (20th-27th September 2009).
Five of us flew from Dublin on Friday 28th August to Dusseldorf (Weeze) and drove from there to the beautiful town of Appingedam for 8th International ShantyFestival, BIE DAIP 2009, organised and managed by Armstrong Patent, the local shanty Group. Janneke Woldhuis very kindly arranged accommodation for us, very close to the festival base and very generously accepted us as part of the Festival. After dinner on Friday night we adjourned to a bar nearby (Doofpot) to enjoy the sea songs and shanties of some of the groups participating in the Festival. Unexpectedly, Paddy's Passion (who we had met in Bremen last year) invited us up to sing a song or two and we entertained the audience with The Wild Rover and Molly Malone. Given that we had an early start that morning (4 am) we were hoping for an early night but....as we were leaving we asked to sing Seven Drunken Nights (made famous by the Dubliners). Since we only knew five verses, we asked Paddy's Passion would they help with the other two and of course they agreed without hesitation. Well one song isn't enough so we sang well into the night and we were joined by members of other groups for a great night of song and chat.
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast (and plenty of water) we visited more of the venues to listen to other groups and to see Appingedam, the shops, the canals, the boats and chat to friends and fellow singers. Later we visited Delfzijl (only 5km away, and host port to the Tall Ships, 22nd-26th August) to look at the locks, the North Sea and the coastal defences. After another excellent dinner we enjoyed a fabulous concert in the church (Nicolaikerk) beside the main stage. What a fantastic venue for a concert as the acoustics were superb and the shanty groups rose to the occasion with fine renditions of songs, some of which we knew and some we didn't. Later we adjourned to a local hotel for a 'singers club', where each group again sang two songs. Fortunately the hotel owner wanted to clear the room so we had a relatively early night.
On Sunday morning, we visited Nicolaikerk again (service was very early, too early) and had a few quiet moments before wandering about the town, now a lot quieter, and we enjoyed the local house styles, shop windows and the beauty of the canals meandering through the town. Later we met Janneke, the very capable Festival organiser, who asked if we would sing at one of the venues because of a double booking; of course we agreed, though we were one short because the elder lemon of the group had earlier decided to visit the polders in the north of Holland. We were then asked to sing one song at the closing ceremony, when all the groups gathered on the main stage and entertained the large and appreciative audience. Later that night there was a special concert in memory of Johnny Collins, the much loved shanty singer from Norfolk, who died unexpectedly while performing at a shanty festival in Poland in July. Even though we never met Johnny, he was a regular visitor to Ireland, and what a magical concert it was. Each group paid their own tribute in song to Johnny and all joined together at the end to remember him with an evocative rendition of the Farewell Shanty.
We left early the on Monday morning having thoroughly enjoyed this very successful Festival. Janneke and the members of Armstrong Patent are to be congratulated for all the work they did in organising BIE DAIP 2009 and for the quality of the music. What a feat; 0ver 20 groups and over 200 gigs over the three days. Well done!
Eight of us gathered at Helvick Head in west Waterford to sing a few songs in aid of the RNLI and we entertained a good audience on Helvick Quay to a nice selection of Irish and English shanties and songs of the sea. There were lots of other activities on the day including a sponsored swim from Dungarvan, children's face painting, brass bands, coastguard demonstrations, King of Helvick competition etc and a BBQ on the Quay. A thoroughly enjoyable day and we enjoyed a pleasant few pints afterwards in beautiful surroundings in Murrays Pub up the road. Well done to the organisers for their trojan efforts on the day when over 10, 000 euro was raised for the RNLI.
Olly and Pat Sheridan drove the 7 of us (also Ed, Tom, Tim, Joe and Dec) to Dublin airport for a 1530 Ryanair flight to Torp airport near Oslo where we were collected by Petter and Arnie and delivered safely to Langesund, some 56 km from the airport. We were staying in the Hotel Victoria, very close to the action, which we joined for a feat of shrimps and bread, washed down by copious amounts of the local beer. We sang our hearts out in the pub later, too much probably and we were a bit worse for wear the following day. Our first gig was on the streets on Saturday at 3.30 and we entertained a good crowd for 30 minutes or so. We sang again in the main tent at 7.30 and we gave a rousing performance, the highlight of which was probably our final rendition, Molly Malone, when everyone rose and sang along. After food we joined fellow singers from Norway (Andante) on a boat moored on the quayside for an impromptu bout of singing, ballads mostly, and we sang some old favourites such as the Peggy Gordon, Molly Malone (again), Maids when you're Young, The Auld Triangle, Whisky in the Jar etc. We were entertained too by some wonderful Norwegian songs and even a tune or two on the concertina. A lovely evening. Our leader was exhausted after all the excitement of the day and he retired early; of course the rest of us hugged the late hours, knowing full well that sleep wouldn't come easy on a busy Saturday night with a full-blooded disco on the go beneath us (after a while, the admiral gave up too and rejoined the fun and frolics; ah well, no harm in trying).
Sunday was another glorious day (in fact the weather while we were there was superb) and we sang again at 1500 but, without Joe, full of food, and suitably cooled down after warming up too early (due to a typo on the programme) we weren't at our best. But we dined like lords that evening in the Hotel Victoria where a plate of seafood did the trick nicely. On Monday we were taken by Freddie (the Festival MC) to Skein, where we rambled around and admired the views. On Tuesday, Arnie, Freddie, Tom and Turo gave us a guided tour of a Viking settlement (thanks to Arnie for the enlightened commentary) and we visited a whaling museum in Sandjiford before being taken to the airport for our 1900 flight home to Dublin.
All in all a wonderful weekend, in good surroundings, good company and we contributed to and enjoyed a very well organized shanty festival. And we made some new friends too. Roll on next year!
What a weekend. We left Waterford for Birr on Friday 29th May where we were to perform at Birr Castle for a gathering of Balloonists. What a venue. Very dramatic and lordly. We had a fine meal (lovely main course and a scrumptious dessert washing down by elegant wines) and once the speeches and presentations were over we sang heartily and true for a very appreciative audience in the large dining hall which was a wonderful place to sing. It was also a beautiful evening in panoramic surroundings and in good company too. We adjourned to Croughwells pub for more drink. This is a beautiful pub too, very homely and quaint. Of course we filled the place (we were joined by most of the balloonists) and we soon burst into song. Almost everyone sang a song or more, lusty ballads mostly but it was a great night. We stayed the night in the County Arms Hotel and following a hearty breakfast we headed for Galway in beautiful weather.
Galway was mobbed from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. We stayed in the Corrib Village, student accommodation but very comfortable and reasonably close. Our first gig on Saturday was at Salthill and we did fine despite the problems with the sound system, the wired announcements on the tannoy system and passing helicopters. We made our way then to the Clubhouse stage for the next gig at 6, which, despite all the traffic, we made it just in time. It was hot there and not exactly quiet as half the people there were queuing up for drink at the far end and of course there was general banter and chat but we sang as well as we could under the circumstances. After a late meal we had a job finding a pub that wasn't full so we went to Jury's where at least we could sit and chat in the foyer (and admire the passing fashion).
Sunday was more or less a repeat of Saturday, except that we didn't sing at Salthill as scheduled (someone had organized a series of activities, which were excellent, for the kids) and we sang on an outdoor stage instead of in the Clubhouse and that was the highlight of the weekend for us, and probably for the large and very appreciative audience who gathered to listed to our collection of sea songs and shanties. We were on such a high after this performance that we decided to sing again unannounced on the quayside, not once but twice and the large audience that gathered enjoyed our impromptu rendition of Drunken Sailor and Nelson's Blood. We had another fine meal that evening (those of us that were left) but the streets and pubs were packed with people so we went back to Jury's again and carried on from where we left off the night before.
All in all a great weekend in great company, good weather and we think we were well received.
We had two performances in the City, first at the Granary at 6.45 where we sang Santiano, Oro and the Connemara Cradle Song followed by The Buljoin as an encore for French guests from our twin City, St Herblain. Then it was straight over to the Book Centre for the launch of an impressive new book on the River Suir by Michael Fewer where we entertained the many guests with Bheir Me O, The Mighty Suir and Portally. What a fabulous venue to sing in with its high ceiling ensuring great acoustics. The Munster Bar beckoned then for steaks, more songs and light refreshments (!). We were joined there by the Lemkes, all the way from New York, and later by several people from the book launch. A great night and in good company.
We had a very successful performance at the Annual Hook Head Maritime Festival, held this year over two days. We opened the proceedings to an appreciative audience in good weather conditions (but it was cool enough up on stage). For our second performance at around 3.30, we were joined at one stage by Treasa who provided us with two new verses of Bheir Me O and we also sang the Lowlands Low, following a request from the audience. We finished off with an exalting rendition of The Fields of Athenry in anticipation of a win by Munster in the Heineken Cup (though it didn't do them much good as they were beaten by fellow Irish team, Leinster - at least we can still cheer for our countrymen in the final at the end of May against Leicester). We watched the game in the Cove and enjoyed a lovely meal in Johnny Fans afterwards.
Well done to Anne Waters and all the crew at the Hook for a very successful and well organised Festival.
Instead of talking and singing after our practice, we usually just sing instead (thanks to Tom for bringing in the guitar). Ballads mostly, some with gusto, and of course we water our tonsils with good old Guinness and beer.
It was a great weekend, despite the bad weather we had for travelling and the alternative route to Galbally taken by one of the crew (he shall remain nameless but a clue would be the fellow with the big smile on his face eating the steak above). We enjoyed our two performances in the Blarney Castle Hotel to an appreciative audience. The night then had two further twists, one in the Greyhound and then to the Courthouse till late (and I mean late). Mighty singing, craic and no shortage of porter. After a leisurely breakfast, we listened to fine music (and sang ourselves too) in the reverse order: Courthouse first and then the Greyhound.