Isn't it great to look forward to another good year, and what might be in store for us shantypeople. We are sure to sing somewhere in the world in 2012 and we are looking forward to it immensely. However it is also nice too to look back and what a year we had in 2011. We met many old friends and made some new ones too and we remember especially and with fondness the days we spent in Norway. We are reminded of this fantastic trip now as Lars Austad, the 'unofficial' photographer and non-singing member of Norwegian super-group Riggerloftets, has just sent us a CD of images taken during our visit to Tonsberg and Llangesund last June 2011. What a time we had there, among true friends and fellow singers. It was indeed something special. We look forward now to meeting Riggerloftets again next June, when they arrive in Ireland for some singing engagements. Have a look at the photos below and we thank you kindly Lars for some exceptional images. Go raibh míle maith agat (a thousand thanks to you).
5th January 2012
Hooks and Crookes were once again privaliged to first of all to be invited to sing and then to actually sing in Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of Waterford City. What a wonderful venue in which to sing and to a packed church too. This was a charity event in aid of Christ Church National School, the purpose of which was to generate funds for the purchase of musical instruments for the school and we had no hesitation in agreeing to assist in such a worthy purpose. We sang third in the first part of the evening, which allowed us to savour the Newtown Chamber Choir and Joanna Cunningham-Boylan who performed before us and Voci (an all female voice choir founded by its conductor Anne Barry) and Dick and Dave Hayes who sang after us. We sang three songs (A Drop of Nelson's Blood with a seasonal flavour, Lady of Autumn and Haul on the Bowline) to strong applause. Thirst got the better of us (singing does dry out the vocal chords!) and we left at the interval and so most of us didn't hear Jonathan Morris, Dulcet, Roisín O'Grady and the Edmond Rice Choral & Musical Society who performed in the second half of the Concert (though Heno and Ollie did rejoin the Concert for the last performance of the evening by the Edmond Rice Choir).
We adjurned to the Munster Bar (and thanks too to Mick and Peter for allowing us to warm up there in the Oak Room beforehand) where we relaxed and enjoyed a few drinks. We also sang Happy Birthday to Betty Mulcahy who was surrounded by a bevvy of fine looking girls. What a life us shantymen have. Aye!
A Food Festival was on in Waterford all week and we were asked to contribute, which we were delighted to do. We sang on stage in the Theatre Royal for about 30 minutes on Friday 9th September as guests arrived to watch Martin Shanahan (of the Fishy Fishy Restaurant in Kinsale) give a cookery demonstration on all the ways to prepare, cook, garnish and eat fish. We each sang a song from our growing repertoire and what a contrast for the audience: us singing sea songs one minute followed soon after by Martin wielding his magic on fish dishes. We adjourned to various hostelries in the Viking Triangle area of the City after the performance, where we sang more songs and ballads, particularly in the Three Shippes, where we were joined by an American couple visiting Waterford for a few days before heading off to Kinsale for a few more days. Maybe they will savour Martin's food in the Fishy Fishy Restaurant there.
Another great night and a good end to what has been a long voyage this year just gone.
What a photo of us performing on Bateau Fée de L'Aulne on Quai Dugay-Trouin, which appeared in the local paper, Soud-Ouest France.
We flew Ryanair to Nantes from Shannon on the 11th August, hired 2 cars and drove the 300 or so kilometres to Paimpol, where we went straight to our digs (dormitory rooms of a local secondary school), which although it was on the outskirts of town, was within walking distance of the port and the performing area. After a feed of chips and burgers and a deoch or two, we retired to the cot. But sleep didn't come easy, what with all the travel and the expectation of the crack to follow in the following few days, not to mention the unfamiliar noises (and the familiar ones too!!). Anyway we assembled in the morning early and met Henri who pointed out the best places to sing on our roving performances. We stuttered to start on Friday but once we warmed up we thrived on the attention afforded to us by the many visitors to the festival. We had a stage performance in the Pub Guinness at 9.30pm for an hour and that really went well. We were on a real high after that so we enjoyed the few sups of grog that followed.
The weather on Saturday was a bit iffy but luckily we had an easy day with only one or two roving performances: an impromptu performance in "Le Shed" was a highlight and the generosity of the Fear and Tí was very much appreciated. Our stage performance that day was at 2pm on the Boat Fée de L'Aulne that is permanently moored on the quayside and what we did worked there too and well at that. Our mixture of shanties, sea songs and Irish ballads sung in Irish, English and French really hit the right places. We even appeared on the local paper the following day (see above). We had time thereafter to relax, socialise, wine and dine and of course enjoy the few sups again. Some of us even managed to watch the French beat the Irish in rugby.
The weather on Sunday was excellent and we wondered about the Quays again, entertaining the vast crowds that arrived for the last day. French people really enjoy their singing and there were groups everywhere on the street singing and performing (59 groups in all participated at the Festival). And what an atmosphere was generated by the groups, the bands, the stalls, the activities and above all by the boats. The harbour was almost full of boats of all shapes and sizes. What a sight. Dinner too in City Hall was special, with groups singing in turn and we contributed to that fiesta (Santiano and Óro) to the delight of the mostly French groups. Our last performance (indeed the last of the Festival almost) was at 12.30, early on Monday morning in the depths of the night. We were a little apprehensive about that but we needn't have been. The jovial audience got involved as we sang the liveliest of our songs in French and English. They even wanted more when we had finished.
After breakfast on Monday morning we hit the road to Nantes and arrived home in Waterford on Monday evening around 9. But what a weekend we had. A fabulous Festival, superbly organised: really something special. We will have fond memories for years to come. Many thanks to the Festival organisers for the help and support. VIVA LA FRANCE!
Huge crowds gathered along along both sides of Waterford Harbour to see the boats off as they left the City after a dramatic few days. Cheekpoint, Passage and especially Dunmore East were packed with people, basking in glorious sunshine, as they bade farewell to these majestic boats. Absoultely fabulous.
The boats left the Waterford Quays early on the morning tide and the paraded off downriver in glorious sunshine. All along the way they were watched by hordes of people who really appreciated the spectacle in the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, it wasn't great weather for the boats as there was little enough wind off Dunmore East where the race was due to start from and so there was little chance of seeing these majestic boats under full sail. To make matters worse, the forecast for the rest of the week (poor weather and srong winds) led to a decision to sail up the east coast of Ireland, and not up the west coast as had been expected. Not to matter though, at least for us in the City as conditions were absolutely ideal all week and the Tall Ships Festival was a fantastic success and will reap untold benefits for the City and County. The only problem that we heard of was the swarm of bees that descended on the sails of the Eendracht and defied all attempts at removal untill eventually a beekeeper was engaged to remove them!
What a week indeed.
Saturday was the best day of the Festival in that the weather was brilliant and there were more people than any other day (though there were huge crowds every day). The crew gathered at 3pm outside Greyfriars to carry out a plan hatched the previous night: we would perform a set outside the Church, followed by another from 'tSheepsfolk (from Holland). We started well and soon a big crowd gathered but after our third number we had to stop as the organisers felt that we were creating a hazard, given the number of people listening to us, and the need to keep a clear passage. Sing anywhere on the Quays, we were told, which we did, a number of times and the craic was ninety. Really appreciative crowds listened to us and enjoyed what they heard. These performances were also a great help to us for our final official engagement of the Festival: singing at an ecumenical service in Christ Church. What a wonder occasion that was between readings, hymns, an enlightening sermon and of course three of our more appropriate shanties for the occasion. It was the first time all week that no one clapped after our performance but none was needed: it was a wondrous occasion, a beautiful, serene venue to sing in and a highly appropriate way to end the Festival for us.
We adjourned then to the Three Shippes for some grub and grog before we rambled among the masses and savoured th final moments of the Festival. We managed to hear a few numbers rorm both Sharon Shannon (at Boltno Street) and Brendan Bowyer (at the Plaza) before we had to retire from the frantic hubbub of the Quay, again to the Wander Inn (a very welcoming tavern), where we had a quite few pints along with a few rousing songs from Sheepsfolk, Compass Point, Jim (from Tyrone-a wonderful singer and banjo player) and ourselves. A great way indeed to end the Festival.
We had an early start this morning (hence ní raibh ach deoch nó dhó againn aréir) as we were performing on theJohn Murray radio show on RTE1, along with Brass & Co, Brendan Bowyer, Hugh O'Brien-Moran and Keith Barry. We sang two songs, which went down very well locally and to the nation. Declan did an interview with Radio na Gaeltachta which was broadcast later at midday along with our rendition of Óro 'sé do bheatha bhaile....
Some of us returned early in the afternoon and had a look at the viking ship which is under construction at the Fás Centre in Kilcohan and what a beauty she is. She isn't quite finished but she should be ready by September. There is a possibility that she will sail down the Suir and she will eventually be put on display in the Museum of Treasures where she is sure to be a big attraction. We all gathered for a brief warm up and check on our evening schedule. We wandered over to the North Wharf, singing as we went, and we sang admirably on the North Wharf stage, close tro the ferris wheel and all the amusements but the large crowd that gathered enjoyed our set, despite the background noise (which wasn't too bad). We then rambled back and when we stopped for some grub and grog we sang a few songs along with our old friend and fellow shantyman, Frankie Bowe, who hasn't changed a bit: still the same, joking and laughing-it definitely isn't possible to predict what he will say next. And he can still sing Danny Boy better than anyone we know, and certainly any of us. On our way back along the North Wharf, we gave Dylan Bible and his dear wife a gee-up with Roseanna, as he tried to entertain a corporate audience on board one of the ships.
We then sang to the passing public beside the Eendracht and that generated an invitation onboard from the captain to sing for his guests, which we did (2 rousing numbers). As we were leaving, who should appear only the Mayor, and a good frined of Hooks and Crookes, Cllr Pat Hayes, and sure we had to go back and sing him another song. Off then to the Wander Inn, taking in all the sights on the South Quay as we walked, where we had some lovely grub followed by a quite enchanting session of sea songs and shanties with all the groups who were performing at the Festival. A truly magical night, among friends and fellow singers in lovely surroundings and well away from the crowds enjoying themselves on the Quays.
What a day we had today. Fantastic. We started on Lyric FM between 12 and 2, where we sang 3 songs and Admiral Deevy also talked about the Group, what we do, how we were formed and where we go. After lunch we headed down to the Plaza for the opening ceremony and what a performance from the Waterford mass choirs and their rendition of Come the Sails. We then went to the WLR hut where we sang another rousing shanty and we wander the south quay afterwards performing to the assembled masses as we went and did they enjoy it. We had an engagement on the Sorlandet, a a big norwegian Tall Shipberthed on the north Quay, and that went down well too. We followed that with a stage performance on the north wharf. More or less whacked at that stage we retired to the Munster Bar for a drink or two and then to the cot, as we had an early start in the morning.
More and more boats are arriving even as we write (the Christian Radich is heading upriver andf the Sorlandet is also in the Harbour, and coming up on the high tide. Great activity around the City as well as the final few loose ends are tidied up. The crowds are arriving too and the weather is reasonably pleasant (apart from the odd shower). And Hooks and Crooks had their first gig in the Book centre to a very attentive audience. Roll on the Festival start tomorrow. A great day is expected.
Things are really hotting up here in Waterford with boats arriving regularly and what a sight they are as they head upriver in glorious sunshine. The Royalist arrived Monday 27th and is safely at her berth and the Spirit of Fairbridge just went upriver there 30 minutes ago (Tuesday 28th at 1400 hrs), followed soon after by the Gloria, one of the bigger ships. The City centre too is a hive of activity, with people working frantically to prepare for the big event, now litterally only a few hours away. The excitement is really building and there is a palpable buzz about the place.
Hooks and Crookes hit Norway from Tuesday 31st May to Sunday 5th June and what a great few days we had, first in Oslo where we visited the cultural sites and generally chilled out. We then went to Tonsberg where we met with old friends, Riggerloftets, who entertained us royally for two whole days and beyond (go raibh míle, míle maith agaibh go léir - a thouusand thanks to you all). We also had the great pleasure to visit the construction site of the Oseberg Viking Longship on Tonsberg quay and we hope to follow that project as it develops over the next 12 months or so. We had an unforgettable time on the Berntine, the old sealing ship and on which we sailed to Langesund for the International Shanty Festival held there each year and where we had a fantastic time among the many shanty groups.
All 8 of us (unfortunately Pat Sheridan was unable to join us) drove to Dublin for a midday flight to Oslo with Norwegian Air (very pleasant it was too), where we spent the night wining and dining and we checked out the cultural sites for most of the following day.
We then took a train to Tonsberg in the afternoon where we were met by members of Riggerloftets, who hosted us, two per family for duration of our stay in Tonsberg. Later in the evening Riggerloftets and invited guests gathered for an evening barbecue, preceded by performance by Riggerloftets and ourselves, and followed by an impromptu session of musics and songs. Very lively and entertaining it was too.
The following morning some of the crew perused and examined the Viking longship that is being constructed entirely using traditional methods. Fascinating (see www.osebergvikingskip.no/eng/ for all the details). Soon after Riggerloftets sang some beautiful shanties on the quayside followed by ourselves with a few more. We then left on the old sealer, the Berntine, for an enchanting trip around the islands of the fjord. We were regaled with fine food, drink and absolutely incredible sights and scenery. Some day indeed.After breakfast the following morning, we headed again for the Berntine, and the five hour trip down the fjord to Llangesund. The day was brilliant again and we had a very enjoyable few hours in the company of Riggerloftets and the crew of the boat.
Having freshened up in our digs for the weekend, we made our way to the quayside at Langesund and the main focus of the International Shanty Festival for the weekend, the spacious tent, where we participated in the opening ceremony. After an excellent meal of shellfish, we prepared ourselves for our turn onstage and we entertained the audience with our blend of sea songs and shanties. A long night of fun and frolics and some singing followed. We were a little the worse for the wear the following morning so we may not have been at our best for our first performance on Saturday but we improved markedly after that and we gave two rousing performances later in the day and we enjoyed the singing of other groups at the Festival, between our slots. After a lovely meal, we joined Riggerloftets on the Bertine and sang our hearts out for most of the evening. A great night again.
We were to have one performance on Sunday but the long journey to Oslo airport meant we had to leave early by train from Larvick so we missed the concluding performances of the Festival. But what a few days we had in Norway. Great people, great weather and above all great company. We are indebted to Riggerloftets for hosting us for the early part of the week (what a hospitable group of people) and to all the lads at Langesund for all their help during the Festival, Unforgettable.
We finally relented after being asked a number of times by Joe Power, chief organiser and MC of the Singers Club and we visited the gathering of singers held on the first monday (or thereabouts) of each month in the pleasant Bridie Ds pub just off the Square in Dungarvan. There we joined Sean Garvey, a lovely singer from Cahersiveen, in a wonderful night of songs mainly, though there were a few recitations, all delivered to good order by the many people present. Of course a singers club is exactly that: everyone sings at some stage and what a collection of songs were aired, and a good number of them were sea songs. We delivered three sets in all, one each for the eight of us present (Tim was away on the high seas) and we rounded off the night with a decidedly flaky version of Haul on the Bowline. A good, late night and well worth the journey to Dungarvan, our second spiritual home at this stage.
We sang heartily to launch the Bealtaine Festival, which runs through the Month of May in the City, and organised by Waterford City Council Library Services. The theme of the Festival this year is Push the boat out, whatever the Sea and we were delighted to sing a collection of shanties in keeping with this theme and in the year when the Tall Ships return to our City. Following our performance, we gathered later on to record some more songs for a Tall Ships Festival CD which we will release soon to celebrate the Tall Ships visit. That was followed by 'refreshments' in a local hostelry, which for some (who shall remain nameless!!) turned into an epic voyage of its own!!
A shanty bash was organised for The Ocean Hotel and we had a great night singing and listening. We (Hooks and Crookes) began at around 9.30 and sang four rousing shanties. We were followed by Eugene McCabe on the guitar and Noel on the box and they contributed their own mix of ballads, sea songs and jigs and reels. Then Waterford's, and indeed Ireland's newest shanty group, Compass Point, entertained the audience with more songs of the sea, shanties and ballads. Martin Travis and Tony Kelly offered an invigorating collection of local, national and new songs. Then it went around again and we each in turn sang from our collections until well into the night. Great thanks is due to Olly mainly for organising the event, and to Paul McDaied (of the Ocean Hotel) for his hospitality on the night. A great night indeed.