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Bie Daip International Folk & Seasongs Festival, Appingedam, Netherlands
26/27/28 Augustus 2016

We left Waterford at 11am on Thursday 25th August for a Ryanair flight to Amsterdam and on then by hired car to our hotel in Delfzijl, about 8km north of Appingedam where we arrived at 9.30 that night, tired but glad to have arrived. It was fierce hot that day (around 33 degrees!) so it was hard to sleep in the conditions but we managed. We had most of Friday for looking at the dykes, dams, locks and the pumps of Delfzijl and that was interesting in the much more tolerable weather conditions (around 24 degrees and sunny). We made our way to Appingedam for food at 5pm where we chatted with some old friends before going to the official opening at 7pm. Then the groups scattered to the various venues to sing and entertain the crowds. All the singing was interrupted at around 10pm for an illuminated parade of sail up the canal and that was eye-catching and very colourful, and musical too as some of the groups sang from the boats. We sang well at our three gigs though it was challenging in the two lively pub venues as the audience were well oiled. There was great music to be heard between gigs and we enjoyed listening wherever we could. 

We had a late start on Saturday (2pm) so we went for a ramble again along the dykes in Delfzijl in a different direction. We had 5 gigs that evening and they were all great and well attended, especially the last one of the night at 11, where we followed De Kaapstander and they stayed to sing along with us. It was hot there, too hot maybe (Joe looked like Christy Moore in his prime, with buckets of sweat running down his jowels!) but the songs flowed, along with the sweat. An electrical storm followed and was that spectacular with sheet and fork lightning as we made our way home to our hotel (Pension Delfzijl). 

On Sunday we were scheduled to be on stage at 12 but we ended up in the marquee nearby because of problems with the electrical equipment after the previous nights storm. We did very well all the same and the shanty groups preparing for the day enjoyed our set of songs. Over then to the museum (a lovely venue). It was great to talk to Hughie Jones, he who sang for 20 years with the Spinners. He stayed to listen to us which was great. Now in his eighties he is a lovely man who enjoys his music and it shows too in his performances. Next stop was De Koning Van Groningen to entertain the people enjoying their lunch and coffees; Olly's went off as Pat sang Lady of Autumn, which Pat interpreted as a call from heaven!! Our last stop and the last gig of the weekend was in the Doofpot pub; it was quiet there on a warm sunny afternoon (everyone was outside in the square listening to other music) but the songs went down well all the same. We stayed there for a drink or two but Pat and Dec went outside to liste to Les Souillés de fond de cale from Brittany and it was a wonderful gesture from Philipe who invited us up, along with other groups, to sing that mighty song Pique la Baleine. Mighty is right! The closing ceremony was packed with people rocking to the sound of Harmony Glen. We ventured across the road to Groene Weide for a communal dinner feast washed down with wine, beer and tae. At that stage many of the groups had dispersed but those that remained gathered later on for an afterparty sing song outside Restaurant Gooday and that was really special with several wonderful songs from the different groups present (including four from us).

We had an early start on Monday morning (7am) so as to reach Schiphol Airport in time for our flight at 2pm, what with heavy traffic with everyone back at work after the holidays, security checks at the airport and trying to find petrol for the cars. But we made it and arrived home in Waterford at 6pm on Monday evening, tired but content after another fantastic weekend of music and song where we met many old friends, and some new ones too, and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to all songs and singing. Thanks to Armstrong’s Patent for organising this 15th Bie Daip Festival and to Janneke and Hero for inviting us. Stichting Bie Daip

Café de Doofpot


Crinniú na mBád, Kinvara, Galway, 19-21st August 2016

The annual gathering of the Galway Hookers in Kinvara is always a lively affair and this Festival has been on the go now for almost 40 years. It is a great celebration of these fantastic boats and, more importantly, the people that continue to maintain and sail them, even though the boats no longer fulfil the purpose for which they were built, except at Festivals such as Crinniú na mBád, when one or two are loaded with turf to maintain the tradition. So it was wonderful for us to attend the Festival and sing a few songs.

We arrived on Friday evening and we sang a set of songs for the diners in the North Pier restaurant, which overlooks the picturesque Kinvara Pier. We wandered around then the various pubs and most of them were heaving with people and music and craic. On Saturday we were back down in the North Pier pub drinking coffee when a large group of cyclists arrived from Dublin on a charity cycle in aid of autism research from Clontarf to Lahinch. Sure we had to sing them Billy O’Shea while they had their soup and sandwiches and we saw them off with a good rendition of Roseanna. Saturday afternoon saw us over at Parkmore Pier where there was a BBQ for the boatmen and their friends. There was lovely traditional music to be heard in the marquee but we sang a few songs and we enjoyed some lovely Guinness too. We adjourned from there to the Thatch Hotel in Kinvara to watch Waterford beat Antrim in the u21 hurling semi-final and we stayed on to see Galway beat Dublin in the other semi final; hopefully too Waterford will beat Galway in the final in a few weeks. Later on that evening we went to a talk and a film on the northwest and northeast passage voyages of the Northabout and that was followed by Coda, a shanty group from Sligo, who sang a selection of beautiful songs, one or two of which we hadn’t heard before. Down then to the North Pier bar where Coda sang a few more songs before they departed for home and we sang a few more shanties, and then we sang a few more songs and ballads and then a great sing song followed with several superb singers participating.

An open air mass was held on the pier on Sunday, followed by the blessing of the boats and we left for home soon after. We opted for the longer coastal route through Ballyvaughan (where we sang Time Ashore for the diners), Black Head, Doolin and the very foggy Cliffs of Moher. While the weather was just a little bit inclement for the weekend, the craic was ninety all the same and we had great fun as usual. Thanks to Michael Brogan for having us and to Pat and Mary for putting us up and especially Pat who fed us and looked after us so well over the weekend.


Sea Horse Commemorations, Tramore

2 July: The 200 year commemoration of the sinking of the troop carrier, the Sea Horse, in Tramore Bay on the 30th January 1816, with the loss of so many lives (363 in all), continued over the weekend 1-3 July 2016, under more favourable weather conditions than would prevail in January. We were delighted, indeed honoured, to sing at a commemorative concert in the Coastguard Cultural Centre on Saturday night, where we sang Shine on Me, Portally and Óró. It was a great night of music, song and verse and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening, even though there were only the three of us (Olly, Dec and Tim), the first time we have performed with just three.
The commemorations continued the following day and the weather and the music was glorious (for a flavour, have a look at
And thanks too to Claire Musgrave and Tracey McEneany for inviting us.

Cork, Baltimore and Ballydehob

Baltimore Beacon

17-20 June: We had a fantastic weekend in Cork, and particularly in west Cork, a beautiful part of Ireland, Europe and indeed the world. We left Waterford early for Cork where we recorded songs for an upcoming documentary on the Sacking of Baltimore by Algerian pirates in 1641. Frank Walsh provided guitar accompaniment for Joe's new song on the Sacking of Baltimore and that sounded nice too. We were also live on Life FM (we sang two songs and Olly talked about the group and our activities) and we recorded a few more songs, courtesy of Kathy O'Hare. We left around 2pm for Baltimore where a Pirate Festival was organised for the weekend, and well organised by Rianne Smith and her committee. It is a great family event and the kids loved it as it gave them the opportunity to dress up as pirates and look well. We were delighted to perform in the Baltimore Sailing Club (thanks to Rianne for inviting us and to John Murphy, our host for the weekend, for mentioning us to her), where we were preceeded by belly dancers! After some lovely grub and grog (the buffet was superb) we retired for a well earned few pints inthe Algiers Inn nearby.
We were performing on Saturday at the Ballydehob Maritime and Folk Festival and after watching Ireland suffer a bad defeat by Belgium in the Euros in France, we moved across the road to Levis's where our spirits lifted with all the lovely singing by various groups and individuals and where we contributed three songs, which went down well. After that we managed to get in some of the rugby game against South Africa, where our spirits took another tumble! We had three more performances in Ballydehob (in the Irish Whip, Vincent Coughlans and the Sandboat) after which we returned to our lovely accommodation in Baltimore (Ol stayed more or less dry for the day, which was very nice of him, even if it was painful for him to do so!!).
The weather on Sunday was poor and it rained most of the day but we managed to watch some hurling and soccer, some of us got to mass (we won't say who!) and we had a lovely meal in the Sibín pub in nearby Rath. We went back then to Bushes where two Connemara men were playing traditional Irish music. Later we asked if we could sing a song and the lads were only too delighted to take a break and hear some raucous shanties (and a few ballads too!). Sure a great night of singing and music followed with tit for tat songs across the room. It was wonderful and it was a great end to a great weekend. Mighty is the only word that would describe it! It turned out that the two musicians (Michael and Andrew) were part of a 5-man crew on a Connemara Hooker, the Mac Duach, owned by Michael, and were sailing for the Scilly Isles via Baltimore and Kinsale and they kindly invited us to have a look the Mac Duach the following morning before they set sail. That was special for us landlubbers (largely!). After a hearty breakfast we headed for Waterford, tired but delighted, though on the way we had to stop to let Timmy sit in a model T Ford.

Mighty is right!

Mac Duach


Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

The Crew at Ballycastle

27-30 May: We were delighted to be invited back again this year to Ballycastle on the north Antrim coast. And what a beautiful spot it is too, especially when the sun shines. And did the sun shine, all weekend in fact, which meant there were big crowds around, with all sorts of activities in store for them at this most vibrant festival.

We arrived on Friday evening having stopped for a rest and a coffee just outside Banbridge (it's around 420 km from Waterford to Ballycastle, almost a four hour drive so the break was welcome). After the opening ceremony we went offshore on the ferry run by Ciarán O'Driscoll (Mary's husband) where a wreath and carnations were cast overboard to remember all those lost at sea, and there was also the blessing of the flotilla of boats that had sailed out of Ballycastle. Ourselves and the Molgoggers (from Cobh) sang The Lifeboat Song which was fitting for the occasion. Back onshore we sang a few songs while people just returned from the sea enjoyed some refreshments. Off with us then to sing more songs in the Marine Hotel, The Harbour Bar and The Angler's Rest (or Tessies where we deposited ourselves for the rest of the evening). Some mighty songs were sung and a great night was had by all.

Mary O'Driscoll (who very kindly invited us to Ballycastle, and a superb organiser: a can-do person as Olly puts it) had a great idea: rather than the people coming to the singers, the singers should go to the people. And we did on Saturday morning: we sang in supermarkets, outside butchers, in a hairdressers (yes a hairdressers), a garden centre (we never sang in one of those before), in cafés, on the name it we sang a song, often two and sometimes three where ever we went. And so did the Molgoggers (this was a joint event between ourselves and the Cobh group: we went our separate ways and sang and when we came together we sang too). At 1pm on Saturday we hopped on the ferry to Rathlin Island for an event in the recently restored St Thomas' Church there, where we listened to poetry, watched Irish dancing and heard of the poignant story of R J Capella who is buried at the back of the Church, one of several hundred people who were lost offshore during the Second World War when their ship was sunk by a German U-boat. We sang Lady of Autumn, which Pat dedicated to Tony and Colm, both of whom were with us when we were last here two years ago. We also joined the Molgoggers for a wonderful rendition of the Mingulay Boat Song (it was a superb place to sing in as the acoustics were fantastic). More singing then outside McCuaigs Pub nearby in superb weather and in spectacular surroundings. And of course more singing later on stage in the Marine Hotel when back in Ballycastle, where we donned our Viking helmets for a rendition of Portláirge followed by another late night in the pubs.

Sunday saw us in Church again, this time in Ballycastle, where ourselves and the Molgoggers joined the local choir to sing some hymns, Amazing Grace and two shanties (The Mingulay Boat Song and The Lifeboat Song). After that we sang a number of songs in a retirement home nearby and it was truly memorable and uplifting to see elderly residents enjoying wiry looking men singing shanties, and enjoying them no less for that. Then it was Spar Supermarket, O'Connors Bar and The Wine Bar across the road on our way back down to the harbour. We wandered around in the afternoon singing here and there for the crowds of people and we also sang Santiano for a group of French tourists on their way around Ireland on a Kavanaghs bus from Waterford, out near Callaghane, which went down well. In the evening we walked the superb sandy beach as the sun went down: we cast a stone each into the ocean in memory of our absent friends John, Michael, Colm and Tony, who were looking down on us from Fiddlers Green, and no doubt wishing us well, though we wondered whether Tony would have donned one of those viking helmets.. hmmm. We had a quieter evening after that in Tessies.

Monday saw us bright and early in the Bay Café, where we sang for our supper even though it was breakfast (on the house it was too) and what better song than the Cape Cod Shanty to end our time there. After some lovely Irish dancing we sang The Ship, Roll the Woodpile and Tomorrow in one of the marquees on the seafront, the Molgoggers sang three more songs and we came together for a final rendition of The Mingulay Boat Song. A great end indeed to a great festival. Amen to that! Wonderful.

Thank you Mary and Caroline, the people of Ballycastle and Moyle District Council.



Rosslare Shanty Festival

30 April: There is a Maritime Museum in Rosslare Harbour, down in the port area where ferry ships leave for Wales and France. It takes a huge effort to keep it open and accessible to the many travellers that use Rosslare throughout the year. Funding is, however, a major issue and the annual Shanty Festival is one means by which money is raised to help in this worthy cause. We were delighted again this year to be invited to perform. We had a great night, sang our few songs (which were appreciated as usual) and listened to fellow performers sing theirs. We enjoyed a sing-song afterwards with our friends from Cobh, the Molgoggers. And of course we enjoyed a few pints too, just the four of us (Ol, Dec, Tim & Pat) but no less enjoyable for that. We didn't forget either to drink a health to our absent friends (Colm & Tony, now sadly departed for Fiddlers Green). Both were present with us in Rosslare last year. What a difference a year makes!!

We rounded off an enjoyable overnight in Wexford by dropping into the Hook Lighthouse on the way home to Waterford, where Ann Waters kindly allowed us to sing a few songs for the many visitors.

West Waterford Festival of Food

16 April: Sure 'tis great to be back singing again and today was a very good start down in Dungarvan, where we performed onstage for the many visitors to the now annual Food Festival. Mind you it was cold, but bright, so it wasn't easy to linger and listen to some rousing shanties but we entertained the passers by and the kids nearby having their faces painted so it must have been a novelty for them to hear unfamiliar but nice songs coming in their direction. After 40 minutes of singing, the Dungarvan Four (Joe was absent) adjourned to The Moorings for a well-earned pint of plain and a georgeous steak sandwich.

Great to be back is right!!


All aboard

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