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Youghal, Wednesday 3rd December 2014

We were asked by Eoin McGarry if we would sing a song or two for a TG4 documentary on the making of the epic film, Moby Dick, some of which was filmed in Youghal in the 1950s. Of course we agreed and enjoyed every minute of our few hours spent in east Cork. It was a glorious day, but cool, and we sang heartily on the quayside for our first event of the new Voyage and indeed our last event for 2014. Joe was outstanding on Heave Away, a song which featured in the original film.

Jack Meades, 24 September 2014

Hooks and Crookes finished off their 10th Voyage in style out in Jack Meades pub at Halfway House and what a pleasure it was to sing for the many international balloonists who have enriched the City and surrounding areas with their presence during the week. Those hot-air balloons are surely the most eye-catching of all airborne machines, as they gracefully move along through the skies, going in whatever direction the wind takes them. The hot-air baloon championship in Waterford was without doubt a very worthy contribution to the ongoing 1100 year celebrations of our beloved City, the oldest in Ireland. The BBQ in Jack Meades afforded all the many baloonists the opportunity to socialise and reminisce on the weeks events. We were delighted to be asked to sing for them as they sat down to their sumptuous fare of spare ribs, spuds and salads, washed down by copious amounts of porter and wine.

Waterford, 21 September & the Ballooning Championship

What a day it was in the county today. It was a summers day really, which brought out the crowds to the beaches and all the other attractions the county has to offer. There were organised activities too, from tractor runs in Mount Melleray to a vintage car rally around Dungarvan, but the top it all, the Hot-air Balloon Championship took off in earnest from the People's Park in the City. And what a sight they are, and especially on such a balmy, sun-drenched evening. The balloons are around for the week so keep a look out for them, especially in the east of the county early in the morning and again in the evening, if weather conditions are right.

DMcG ip and away

Apart from the intrepid Olly (one of the Event Organisers), Colm was also on hand, well.... to lend a hand, and the auld triangle himself finally got a flight on Tuesday 23rd September. And many thanks to Bill for his skilful piloting and his dear wife Pat for makiing way. Wonderful!

Rotterdam International Shantyfestival, 5-7 September 2014

Simon Blok

We had an absolutely fantastic time in Rotterdam at this very well organised Shantyfestival and it was worth the travelling to get there to enjoy the people, the place and all the singing. We left Waterford early on Friday morning and flew from Dublin to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, from where we got a fast train for Rotterdam. We arrived in good time to have a relaxing drink and something to eat before our first performance just before 10 on Friday night in the Tent. This was a great venue both to sing in and also where we were able to hear some of the other groups and engage with fellow singers. We made sure we had a reasonably early night and so we didn't overstretch ourselves on our first night (which we normally do!). After a good nights rest in our floating hotel (another first for us – sleeping on water!), we were up bright and early and we had three more performances during the day and three more again on Sunday at various locations. Ineke looked after us on the Saturday and Frieda did likewise on Sunday, and what a job they had trying to keep us from wandering and becoming too engrossed in all the other activities that were taking place in Rotterdam over the weekend. There were boats and barges of all sizes, all wonderfully decked out, and there were steam engines and cranes, superb model boats and various other stall offering all sorts of the maritime pariphenalia. The Maritime Museum nearby was also a fine attraction. It was great too to meet again with Janet and Hilda and the two Jans from the group Seyl and Treyl.

with Barend Fox

On Sunday morning, having missed a tour of the harbour area by about 10 minutes, we took a trip in a small boat and that was a revelation, bringing us to parts of the river system that we wouldn't have otherwise visited, and aging there were boats of all shapes and sizes, most of them now in use as living areas by their owners.
We had only finished our last song on the Sunday afternoon and we had to rush for the train and plane back to Dublin. That song was a rousing version of the Wild Rover, and it echoed all over the centre of Rotterdam as we were joined in song by our audience, who knew every word, as indeed they knew the words of the Fields of Athenry and Molly Malone, which we included in some of our sessions for a bit of variety. In fact the Fields of Athenry was a particular favourite and some of the groups included this song in their repertoire. Shantykoor Barend Fox even invited us up onstage to sing with them when they were singing it. Wonderful.
Time moves too fast on weekends like this, especially when the weather was as good as it was and the people were so friendly. It was all over before we knew it but we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Rotterdam. We are especially grateful to Simon and Hans, Ineke and her sister Ellie and Frieda for all their help and assistance over the weekend. It was a wonderful weekend and thank you ever so much for having us!

Kilkieran Cottage, 23 August 2014


Hooks and Crookes were delighted to be in Kilkieran Cottage near Owning in Pilltown in south Kilkenny on Saturday night 23rd August, to entertain visitors from Newfoundland who come to Ireland every second year as part of an annual Festival that alternates between our green Isle and Newfoundland & Labrador, which helps to maintain the long-standing cultural links between our respective countries. They only arrived here yesterday, 22nd August, and they enjoyed the wonderful Iverk Show today at nearby Pilltown, before retiring to Kilkieran Cottage for food, refreshments and entertainment. It was a wonderful occasion and for us it was even more so. It was the first time we sang in a barn and it was also the first time we enjoyed a Sean O'Casey play between our two performances. That was especially enjoyable and so well performed by a troupe from nearby Carrick-on-Suir. And we sang well too, as usual, despite there being only four of us. It just shows what four willing singers can do in intimate surroundings. After the performances we adjourned to the nearby Cottage where a lovely meal awaited us (and some grog too!). We have to thank Frank and Adie for first of all inviting us and then for the hospitality afforded to us when there. Overall the night was a great success and sure it was only across the river for us. It was also great to sing a few shanties for Kilkenny people!


Cape Clear, 19-21 July 2014

Every so often a special weekend happens and Hooks and Crookes certainly had a very special weekend down in Cape Clear in west Cork in the middle of July and we are eternally grateful to Mary O'Driscoll for inviting us. Mary organises an annual event on Cape Clear to raise money for the Baltimore lifeboat and she very generously invited Hookes and Crookes to this years event.
We left Waterford on Saturday the 19th July at 10 o'clock and arrived safely in Baltimore just before the ferry departed, having stopped on the way for tea and scones (yum, yum). Mary was waiting for us but we declined her offer of a lift to the holiday home that Mary let us use for the weekend, preferring the short walk instead. After settling into our accomodation (beside Cotter's Bar), we departed with Ferdia on a bus tour of the Island, which Mary had again organised for us and Ferdia was a very informative guide highlighting all the various features of the Island and aspects of Island life. Ferdia himself came to visit the Island in 1990 and he never went home, such is the attraction of the place.
After a pint (maybe two) we warmed up and headed up the road to O'Driscoll's Bar for the BBQ, all proceeds of which were in aid of the RNLI. After the grub, so well prepared for us by Steve and Mary (from Lundy Island), we went outside to sing our shanties since it was such a beautiful night and we stayed outside all night and traded songs and tunes with fellow musicians (Danny, Kevin, Darragh, Fiachra and Roisín and Mary O'Driscoll herself, and there were more contributions from the audience). It was a special night, out under the stars, singing and dancing too, so it was hard to go to the cot let alone sleep when we got there.
Sunday morning was absolutely glorious, one of those summer days that we look forward too all year and we managed to get to Church to thank the good Lord for what he had delivered to us down in Cape Clear. We had a fantastic breakfast, courtesy of Mary again and as we departed we sang a rousing shanty for Clem, a very fit 93-year old from Cork whose late wife A. Donnelly hailed from Waterford (Daisy Terrace?). Clem is a regular visitor to Cape Clear and looks all the better for it. The afternoon on Sunday was the main event, out in the open space in front of Cotters Bar and several hours of music of all varieties (folk, pop, ballads, bluegrass, and shanties of course) was delivered to the audience, young and old who had gathered for the event. The lifeboat and rib came across from Baltimore and Henno sang a song in dedication to them. A raffle riased more money for the cause and to more or less finish off, Olly kindly agreed to act as auctioneer for some very special items which raised even more money. Mary very kindly presented us with a bronze fine art sculpture from the studios of Jeanne Rynhart for coming all the way down from Waterford to support the event.
We went for a long walk then up to the old lighthouse and castle and that was a bit of craic. Dinner then followed (yum, was lovely) and a few pints and of course the customary few songs and that was another good session with shanties and ballads and box-playing. Even Clem sang a song and he was word perfect! Father Hickey was very interested in Joe's Lusitania and no doubt that will be emailed to him soon. Fr Hickey had earlier said Mass as gaeilge in the local Church and he is a noted local and national historian.
We were up early the following morning to catch the 9 o'clock ferry and had a most enjoyable breakfast in Baltimore. We then went to visit the nearby Baltimore Castle on the invitation of Bernie McCarthy, whom Joe had met on Saturday night. She has written books on the Castle and the Sacking of Baltimore and Joe learned a few things from her. Fair play to herself and her husband for all the work they put into this magnificent building. It really is a fine castle in such a prominent location. Away with us then to Waterford but of course we had to stop for tea and a scone on the way home.
In all the years Hooks and Crookes have been on the road, there is no doubt that we have had some special trips but this trip to Cape Clear has to rate among the best of them. It was really special in so many ways and it will live long in the memory. We were humbled too by a family we met on one of our walks and we were told by the father that his young song asked him would he go up and ask the people playing the instruments would they stop playing so that we could sing a few more songs!!
We have to thank Mary O'Driscoll for asking us to two offshore islands at either ends of the country in the one year: Rathlin Island in Antrim (another special occasion) and Cape Clear. So Mary, thank you ever so much. The five of us that went to Cape (Olly, Pat, Joe, Colm and Declan) will be forever in your debt. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and it was all very relaxed and easy and not a cross word was spoken over the entire stress-free weekend. It was smiles all around from the time we left till the time we went our separate ways. Long may that special relationship continue!! Aye indeed.

The Fastnet Maritime & Folk Festival, Ballydehob, west Cork. 13-15 June

Two cars left Waterford at 3pm on the Friday afternoon and headed for west Cork (two of the crew had earlier gone on the bus with Riggerloftets). After safely arriving and settling in to Dan's place just outside Ballydehob, we headed into town for a pint and a chat and to watch a bit of the World cup game (Spain v Holland). Our only gig on Friday night in the Sandboat pub was late (after 12) and it was quiet enough there too but it gave us a chance to warm up. We sang a few ballads later on and then we watered our tonsils to keep them in good shape for the following day. We were up early enough on Saturday morning and we headed for Schull where we had a stroll around and we enjoyed some fantastic crepes before heading back to Ballydehob where the two lads, Joe and Olly, performed well with their respective songs in the song-writing competition. Alas, the expected bonanza (drink for the crew) didn't materialise so we had to buy our own for the rest of the weekend. We had four performances thereafter in Vincent Coughlans bar and in the Sandboat and it was great fun, especially in that we were either performing before or after Riggerloftets, so we could enjoy each others songs and company. We also had a chance too to hear some of the other performers at the various venues. We sat down with Riggerloftets for dinner on Saturday evening and that was memorable, with plenty of wine flowing, the odd toast and song and plenty of chat. It was a great day really, the weather was good, so was the company and the dwink flowed freely. We were joined in the afternoon by our great friend Franke Bowe and he added another element to the craic with his constants anecdotes about various characters he has met and places he has been. We also met Jack bergin, a former work colleague of some of the crew, now permanently domiciled in west Cork.

After another early rise on Sunday (and early mass for some of the crew), and a beautiful walk around the Sanctóir, we went again to Ballydehob for a singaround and more opportunities to hear fellow singers and to continue our rapport with Riggerloftets. We performed onstage in the afternoon and then we adjourned to the Sandboat for our last performance, which was a rousing affair. After bidding our farewells to Riggerloftets, we headed for Waterford.

The weather was simply superb over the weekend so everyone was in good spirits and the countryside was beaming. Above all it afforded us many opportunities to engage with our good friends in Riggerloftets. Hopefully we will meet again soon.

Roll on the next weekend!

Riggerloftets in Waterford

Riggerloftets in Waterford

12 June: Our good friends from Norway, Riggerloftets, arrived in Waterford this afternoon in glorious weather, on their way to Ballydehob for the Fastnet Maritime & Folk Festival and they enjoyed a tour of the Waterford Crystal Centre soon after arriving, where they sang, not once but twice. It is a lovely venue to sing in too with great accoustics (and they got a round of applause on both occasions!). We all had a lovely meal in the Munster Bar later on and then we went over to The Boat Club Bar, where a lively sing-song was in full swing. A few Norwegian songs were added to the occasion and some more Irish ballads. A great weekend beckons! (Hooks and Crookes are going to Ballydehob too).

Colm at 60

Colm at 60

9th June: Colm reached the ripe old age of 60, just last week, and, as is usual now, the crew presented him with a momento of the occasion. This fine collection of photos of Colm in various poses was poured over with glee by the crew and it brought back memories of the various places we have been over the last 10 years. Ah sure, 'tis a great life! Aye

Dublin RiverFest, Monday 2nd June

On our way home from Antrim we dropped in to the Dublin RiverFest taking place along the docklands down near the O2 stadium, where we gave only one performance but it was a lively one. We were well practiced after the weekend but the voices were a bit shattered (despite all the weekend lubrication!). Nevertheless, the set we delivered was well recieved. It was a very well attended event too, with several ships, onshore and river activities and very enthusiastic crowds lined and walked the quayside.

Ballycastle & Rathlin Island, Antrim, 30th May-2nd June

We had a fantastic weekend in Antrim. It might have been a long journey from Waterford to Ballycastle but it was worth it. Great people, great weather, lovely landscapes and great craic too. We sang in restaurants, pubs, at the ferry terminal, on stages, in bars and outside bars and we even had an impromptu sing-song on the ferry back from Rathlin in roughish weather: 'ah go on, gives us one song', which we did but we ended up singing seven songs, in the fresh air, and was it fresh!–one wave broke over the deck and saturated some of the crew who, unmoved, sang on!. Our audience grabbed Olly's hat and made a collection for us (has that ever happened us before?) and the proceeds of that collection we decided to donate to cancer research. Yes, definitely a memorable weekend and one that will live long in the memory. Many thanks to all the lovely people of Antrim who made our stay such an enjoyable one.

Rosslare, Wexford, 3rd May

The second annual Rosslare shanty bash took place in the Hotel Rosslare to raise funds for the local maritime museum and five groups sang heartily all evening long beginning at around 6.30. Hooks and Crookes performed for an almost an hour and we just about managed not to sing songs that anyone else sung. We finished off the night too around midnight and our last song, Health to the Company, really went down well and the clink of glasses resounded around the hotel. We retired then to the bar outside, where we were joined by the Molgoggers from Cobh and all present sang a couple of songs each, so it ended up being a late night, followed by an early rise as Joe had to get home to get to Thurles to see his beloved Kilkenny beat Tipp in a very entertaining national league hurling final.

The crew

It was great to meet fellow shanty singers from Ireland, especially the Molgoggers who have only arrived on the scene in the last 12 months or so. If only we were as good as they are after 12 months, who knows where we might be now....But a great night, lovely singing, a few nice pints all in good company...and well organised too. We are looking forward to next year already. Aye

Dunmore East, Waterford, 30 April

To celebrate the opening of a two day conference on sustainable coastal communities, an informal gathering took place in the Haven Hotel, Dunmore East on wednesday night, the 30th April, giving delegates an opportunity to chat informally, sample the local cuisine and hear a wonderful gathering of musicians from uileann pipers to childrens choirs to raucous shanty singers like ourselves. We sang five songs (time was tight!) on stage, and many more in the pub afterwards, where we were joined by raconteur and former member Frankie Bowe who enthralled everyone with his witty recitations. Joe's new song, Louisitania, was sung twice (has that ever happened before!) such was its appeal to the people in the bar.

West Waterford Festival of Food, Dungarvan 12 April

The west Waterford Food Festival has been running for several years and it is always a great event and well supported, and is usually blessed with good weather. We were invited to sing there this year and we had a ball. A notable first for us was that we sang in the rain, heavy rain too but luckily our new coats came in handy and kept us dry, and warm too in the stiff breeze. After that first performance at 2.15 we went walkabout and had a pint, as thirsty singers are liable to do! Back for our second performance at around 3.30 and we unveiled some new songs from our rapidly expanding repertoire, including a world premier of Lusitania, Joe's latest composition. We were told later that the sounds of shanties could nearly be heard all over Dungarvan and everyone around us seemed to enjoy our eclectic mix of sea songs and shanties. A quick pint in the Lady Belle (singing is thirsty work!) and then we retired to the Moorings where we had a fantastic steak (except for Timmy who had fish and chips!). Another pint there to wash down all the food (it is a food festival after all!). The canopy surrounding us didn't like us for some reason and took off, but the able bodied members of the crew were there to save the day! Hearty souls they are too.
Home then to Port Láirge. A great start to the singing season.

Ballycastle/Rathlin, Antrim

28th-30th March: Hooks and Crookes are heading for Antrim for the Ballycastle Maritime Festival at the end of May so an advance party (The Hookless Four) very kindly accepted an invitation to visit the area and the people for a 'meet and greet' opportunity for a few days of chat, visits and some music. A great weekend was had by all accounts and in great company.

The Helen Blake Centenery Commemorative Weekend

21st February: Hooks and Crookes were delighted to be asked to sing at an event commemorating the gallant crew of the Helen Blake lifeboat from Fethard-on-Sea, nine of whom lost their lives in an attempt to effect a rescue of the Mexico in stromy weather off the Keeragh Islands exactly 100 years ago.
We got the ferry from Passage East and arrived at Nevilles Bar in Fethard where we had a lovely meal (tradititonal fish and chips was the order of the day!). We moved across the road to St Mary's Community Hall, where Liam Ryan was delivering a fascinating lecture on the history of the event. After the short intermission there was some wonderful traditional Irish music, followed by a local couple singing sea shanties and ballads. Then local school children sang a few haunting songs, which went down well.
We were last to sing, dressed in our new clobber, and we delivered a varied set of songs and in some style too, which seemed to go down well with the packed hall. We were even asked for an encore and we rolled out Óro 'sé the Bheatha 'Bhaile, and everyone joined in. It was a long night, not for us really but for the organisers, and the organisation was superb.
We adjourned to Nevilles again for a few jorums and two or three quiet songs.
A great night, and the start of our singing season. Aye

The Gallant Crew

18th February: Aren't they lovely. You have to admit they really are the business. Look at them singing away to their hearts content, not a care in the world on them only words, notes, keys and harmonies. They don't always get them all to work together but they do try. All looking forward to a good singing season ahead. Aye

Monday 17th feb 2014

All aboard

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