Michael Hearne, former crew member, is fondly remembered at this time of year by his family and friends at the annual Michael Hearne Memorial Swim, held on the beach under the Strand Hotel at Dunmore East. It was a beautiful and crisp morning but conditions had changed by lunchtime. But at least it was fine when the swimmers entered the sea at two pm. A calm before the storm, no doubt, that is forecast to hit our shores tonight. No one hung about too long afterwards, a hot toddy or two, a quick chat here and there. And that was it. Another year more or less over. Aye
The same beach was very different the following day, following the storm-force winds overnight.
We gave our last performance of the year on the Christmas tree, between Bishop's Palace and Christ Church Cathedral at 7.30 pm, on what was a raw and bitter night and we really have to thank the audience for coming out to hear us sing and for enduring the conditions for so long. Thanks too to Jack Stephenson for all his organising, not just us, but all the groups that have performed here over the last two weeks and more. And Eoin Kissane was great on sound too tonight.
We adjurned then to the warmth and comfort of the Munster Bar just down the road where we dined and drank and sang until the wee hours. A very relaxing night was had by all in our own company, and none better either. We toasted too our absent friends, those departed and on leave.
Another good year for us and all our friends!
15th December: Well, we inflicted ourselves on the good people of south Kilkennyon Sunday night, all six of us (minust Tony and Eddie). We exercised our vocal chords as much as we could manage and we did what we do well for a few songs. And there we were thinking that it was the first blast of shanties ever to be sung there, only to hear South Australia and the Mermaid being sung in the back room, to where we adjourned for a lively session of music and song afterwards. Thanks are due to Frank and Ade Walsh for inviting us over. See Kilkieran Cottage for details of a a lovely restaurant in a lovely location high in the hills of south Kilkenny (Tullahaught means, apparently, Eight Hills).
8th December: The crew were in fine form on Sunday 8th December as they performed for all the visitors in town for the annual Winterval Festival, a winter extravaganza of fun and activities in the City, which runs for a few weeks before and a week or so after Christmas. And it is usually hectic in town over the weekends in particular, and today was no exception. Well we left them have it with a fine collection of shanties, ably sung by one and all. One Hook (or is he a Crooke?), just off the plane from Hong Kong, even managed to get every note right! It was great too to see a former Hook in the audience and looking well too after his recent op.
For our final event of Voyage 9, we were delighted to be invited to Harwich in southeast England, where a fine gathering of shantymen entertained the people in several establishments, onshore and offshore. We flew to Stanstead Airport from Dublin and arrived in Harwich to a fine meal prepared by our hosts. We were delighted to relax on the Friday night and enjoy the local ales before retiring to our bunks. Sleep didn't come easy what with snoring, belching, trips to the loo...oh mother of God, Bob Dylan was right: it was a hard days night. We were up bright and early the following morning and following a hearty breakfast, off we went and sang on a train. Yes we sang on a train, for the first time ever, and it was a wonderful experience. We followed that with a performance on the outward and return journey on the Victor, an old grain barge now in use as a pleasure craft ferrying tourists around the harbour. A concert in the Yacht Club was enjoyed by all later on that evening and we were in good company: Crossjack (from Germany), Stork Ejlaender (from Denmark) and La Bouline (from France).
We had a very restful night on Saturday after the customary few pints, and were once again up bright and early the following morning (some of us even went to Sunday service!). Our first gig was in the other Yacht Club (and old converted barge and a lovely space it was too), where we were joined by our good friends from Stork Ejlaender from Fano in Denmark. The final gig in the Crown Post restaurant was memorable: it was an intimate venue, we had a very appreciative audience (as indeed we had at all our gigs) and the grateful landlady kindly offered us a drop of grog. The final event of the Festival was the gathering of all the groups on the Ha'penny Pier, where each group sang a shanty each to the crowds below the old lightship.
It was a great weekend and thanks to Pam and John and all the crew for having us, putting up with us and feeding us (thank you Jane too for that) and to all the friends, new and old that we met over the weekend. Aye
Back in Wexford for the second weekend in a row, Hooks and Crookes were delighted to sing in Neville's pub in Fethard-on-Sea and entertain the diners with a rousing collection of seasongs and shanties. The Neville's six did two sessions of songs, between which we had some lovely grub (and some grog too) and after the singing we had a most relaxing bout of chat, discussing old times and making plans for the future.
Ah sure this is the life for shantymen: grub, grog, a bit of banter and not a care in the world on us. Not a negative realism in sight! Wonderful. Aye
The Waterpark 5 gathered on Saturday 14th September at 10pm in Waterpark Rugby Club where we sang a few shanties, drank a few pints and then the Waterpark 4 sang a few ballads for the Campervan Rally, which was based there over the weekend. It also served as a good warm up for the following day, especially for hilbilly Joe, and he only just after getting off the plane from Nashville to sing onstage in Waterford (what a life!!). We also enjoyed listening to the other musicians, (including very musical priests!) so it was a good night in good company (as usual).
Olly was knocking on our doors (or should we say blowing his horn outside our doors!!)
bright and early the following morning for our trip to Hook Head Lighthouse for a Gathering 2013 event of lighthouse keepers (Olly had been at the Hook Lighthouse for the official opening on the Friday night, and what a lovely night it was too). A divil of a gale was blowing so rather than sing in the marquee, we adjourned to the Centre itself and the Hook Head 5 sang some lovely sea songs and shanties to a very attentive and appreciative audience (we always say that, but it is true). We had a lovely lunch then, and rather than sing again to the lighthouse keepers who had departed for a pint up the road, the Templars 4 followed them up and sang a few more shanties up there, but, and its a big but – we only had one small beer between us after our performance.
Ah well. Aye
Thanks to Tom Murphy from Dublin who was at the Hook and sent us on some fine photos (the last four)
3 August: Spraoi is the annual August bank holiday extravaganza of music, dance and performance in Waterford City, when thousands gather to see and hear a wide variety of events and activities all around our beloved City. Hooks and Crookes contributed this year and performed twice just outside the Museum (a wonderful venue with great acoustics for acapella singing). We sang at 8.30pm and again at 9.30 and the lively set of shanties went down very well. We grogged in the Munster and Jordans before and afterwards. A great night indeed. Aye
Apart from all the free events and activities over the weekend there was a fantastic parade on Sunday night (with a maritime theme too), followed by a spectacular fireworks display, which was enjoyed by thousands thronged along the Quay.
22 July: 1,693 Irish dancers (including some members of the Riverdance troupe) successfully entered the Guinness Book of Records for the largest number of dancers to perform at any one time. All this took place on Sunday 21st July close to the Samuel Beckett Bridge on the River Liffey. Large crowds were gathered to watch the event and Hooks and Crookes had a quick look as they passed by on their way to sing near the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship soon after. We had driven up from Waterford on the morning for the performance beside the mighty ship. We were preceded by Eight Bells and Comhaltas na Mara from Sligo and Garland from Cork and we were followed by that redoubtable singer of sea songs, Jim Corr. We delivered a powerful set in our now customary style. Our only hiccup was Joe trying to sing in what only can be described as a heavenly key (it was so high!). After lunch we dispersed, some to the Natural History Museum (and other notable Dublin establishments!), some to the cot and someone else to God only knows where. We regrouped for grub and grog in the Purty kitchen (and a few songs). After some more grog in Dun Laoire we retired for the night to our base, the Kingston Hotel. Some departed early on Monday morning while the more relaxed crew members enjoyed a leisurely stroll on Dun Laoire pier in warm sunshine before heading home. Aye
24 June: There were big crowds in Dunmore East for the annual Food festival and the quays were packed with people sampling all the delights on offer from the many stalls. The weather was reasonably good and was pleasant in the sunshine despite the strong breeze. We were onstage to round off the Festival but, unfortunately, the sun disappeared and the people with it as the strong wind meant it was just too cold. But we did what we had to do for those hardy souls that remained (and thank you for being so appreciative) and we did it well, as usual. Over then to the Yacht Club for some grub and only a little grog. We then adjourned to Bill the Butchers pub up in the village and after singing a few shanties, the ballads began. As the night matured a real lively session ensued with some superb contributions interspersed with the odd shanty. Ah there's nothing like an entire pub erupting in song. And what's more we didn't have to put our hands in our pockets all night (what hospitality). Another great day and a great night into the bargain. We are all definitely off the beer now (well 'till the next night anyway!).
22 June: Wexford is near enough to Waterford so we arrived there in good time to get to our digs, warm up and reintroduce Eddie to all his fellow shantymen after his long stint at sea in the wilds of Canada. The weather conspired against us for our first performance onstage on Wexford Quay, what with the wind blowing and rain coming down but we did what we had to do, and in some style too. After dinner in the Talbot Hotel and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque to John Barry at the aptly named John Barry pub, we sang there to rapturous applause. There followed two sessions then in Morris's and the Loch & Quay pub at the other end of town, after which we had a few pints and sang a few more songs in a 'quiet' pub. After chips for Olly, we hit the cot and didn't get up till morning. After breakfast in the Riverside Hotel, we headed for home and The Uluru pub (some of us anyway!) to watch the Lions narrowly beat the Wallabies. Rare stuff indeed. Aye
16 June: Seven of us left Waterford at 9.30 and arrived safely in Ballydehob around 1 o'clock. We went straight to Dan's wonderful home just on the outskirts to drop our gear, warm up and get ready for our first performance in the intimate surroundings of the Sandboat pub in Ballydehob. But first a cup of coffee in the Social Club where there was an impromptu session in progress – some lovely harmonies from Capstan Full Strength. We were invited to sing, which we did (The Rose of Allendale) and we then departed and sang well in the Sandboat. Up then for our second performance in Vincent Coughlans at 5.30, which was followed by some grub and grog there. We adjourned to Levis's Bar, a quaint pub in the village, where the Cork Singer's Club were in session. After a pint in Rosies followed by our third performance in Vincent Coughlans, we returned to The Sandboat, where we followed the Welsh group Baggyrinkle, and finished the night in style with a lively set of shanties and sea songs followed by a few ballads. A late night indeed and an early rise too on Sunday. Dan provided us with a wholesome breakfast (the freshly made scones were delicious) and we departed around 10.30 as it was piddling rain and there was no point in hanging about in the wet. We certainly enjoyed the weekend and we think the people enjoyed our performances, delivered in our usual style.
We would like to thank Dick Miles for inviting us to the festival and to Dan, for his hospitality while we were there. Aye
13 June: The photograph below shows Ann Christin, Anne Brit and Ann Kate, some of our good friends from the Norwegian shanty group, Riggerloftets, on their way to the Llangesund International Shanty Festival last weekend, which they thoroughly enjoyed, by all accounts.
6 May: The inaugural Dungarvan Maritime Festival was held over the weekend and it was a superb weekend of fun, frolics and music. The Festival was blessed with good weather and the crowds turned out in style. HOOKS and CROOKES sang there on Sunday 5th May. We performed first onstage at 4pm which was followed on the quayside opposite by an enactment of activities that took place there many years ago. We then sang again to a diminishing crowd (unfortunately the clouds rolled in and the wind strengthened). Grub and grog followed in the Moorings Bar and when we had had our fill we rambled around 4 or 5 pubs singing a few songs in each and having the crack with ourselves and the revellers (the pubs were buzzing!). The redoutable Dick Miles followed us as we went and sang his few songs after we performed. We ended our night in the Yacht Club where we sang two more songs to great applause before leaving for Waterford just before 12 midnight. A great day indeed. More details of the Festival at Dungarvan Maritime Festival 2013.
12 April: The temperature has just gone up a few degrees and the sun has finally begun to shine after a long winter when we saw very little of it. That bitter easterly wind too that blew in across Europe from Siberia and hit us hard these last few weeks has finally blew itself out and the mild southerlies have returned. No sooner had its warm breadth touched us when the three old fogies decided to go wandering again along the wild coast of Waterford. And there isn't much wilder than that stretch of coast between Kilfarrasy and Garrarus. So the 3 boys waited for the tide to turn (you have to as otherwise it is inaccessible) and off with them. A lovely day it was too! (by the way, you only see two of the old fogies as the third, the oldest fogie of them all, was taking the pictures). Aye..........APOLOGIES!!! he was being photo'd as he was admiring the cliffscape (see photo 4!)
22 March: The Friends of Waterford Regional Hospital organised a charity concert to raise badly needed funds for WRH, and Hooks and Crookes were delighted to perform in this lovely Church for such a good cause. Several acts performed and it was a great night of songs and singing. We sang second after the interval and from our vast repertoire we entertained the audience with A Drop of Nelson's Blood, Lady of Autumn, Haul on the Bowline and Time Ashore. Fair play to the audience too for venturing out on what was a bad night; everyone agreed that it was worth it for the quality and variety of the singing.
We adjourned then to the Uluru where we celebrated Olly's birthday with copious amounts of grog.
3 March: The Dunbrody is a replica Famine Ship permanently berthed at New Ross Quay in county Wexford and there is a fine associated Interpretative Centr nearby, where visitors can read in great detail about the voyages of the many emigrants that left New Ross and the southeast of Ireland for what they thought was better lives in distant America.
We sang there on Sunday 3rd March in the restaurant upstairs (which has commanding views of the Dunbrody and the river Barrow), down in the entrance foyer (where a French group were delighted with our rendition of two French shanties) and we sang a song onboard ship to entertain one of the guided tours. Altogether a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a great opportunity to showcase shanties on such a stage. It is a fantastic resource to visit and to learn about the hardships endured by the emigrants and indeed how safe the original Dunbrody was. Highly recommended!
8th January 2013: Tony Barden reached the ripe old age of 60 recently, and, as is customary on these momentous occasions, a presentation was made by his fellow crew members in the back room of Kennedy's Pub in Callaghane on Monday night, the 7th January 2013. Colm did up a witty card with lots of photos taken of Tony almost as far back as when he was in nappies. We had a right old sing song then afterwards in the pub. Hopefully someone bought Tony a drink!