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14th Annual Michael Hearne Swim

26th December: The now annual swim in memory of Michael Hearne, our former colleague in song, took place on the main strand at Dunmore East. It was bright and sunny, and overall very pleasant for the onlookers, and not too bad either for the swimmers, though the pounding waves were a bit biting on the body and the soul. We also remember too our former colleagues John, Colm and Tony, sadly missed by us and their families.


St Otteran's Church, Waterford

6th December: Ah sure isn't it great to be able to sing a few shanties, songs as Gaeilge and a medley of Christmas songs into the bargain. 11 o'clock in the morning might be a bit early for us shantymen but we were grand when we got going. Some old faces, some new ones too but everyone enjoyed it, including ourselves. Thanks to Christine for inviting us. Aye

St Otteran's

Hook Lighthouse, Wexford

12th Oct: We were delighted to be asked by UCD Global to sing a few shanties down at the Hook today and to entertain American students on a tour of the southeast for the day. And what a glorious day it was too, with the Head basking in warm sunshine and a pleasant rolling sea offshore. With the sound of shanties echoing over the waves, who could ask for more! We were well fed too, another bonus. Many thanks to Enda and Colm for inviting us and for all the staff at the Hook for their warm hospitality.

The Hook


Cape Clear, West Cork

August 23rd-26th: We left Waterford around 11am for a lunch stop in the Viaduct pub just outside Cork and then onto Baltimore where we drank a pint and sang a song (Time Ashore) outside Bushes pub in glorious sunshine. We left for Cape Clear on the 5pm ferry and enjoyed a lovely trip out to the island. More songs were sung too as the sun waned on the horizon. It was great to meet Mary and Ciarán O’Driscoll again and to renew acquaintances. We had grub and grog in Cotter’s and we sang a few songs (two sets in all or around 16 songs) followed by a general sing-song.
After a leisurely breakfast on Saturday morning we went for a stroll through the mist and up the hills on Cape (no wonder the islanders are so fit). We missed the track for the lighthouse (too much talking maybe) and we missed the nice coffee shop (definitely too much waffling), but we eventually made our way down to the Pier where we all had coffee. We then met Gerry Kane and Catherine Kane from Waterford, who were performing at the Concert in the Church of St Ciarán in the afternoon. And what a concert it was with local musicians as well as ourselves. A fun-raiser in aid of the Church renovations and how well the Church looked too. There was more singing on Saturday night, and craic and dwinking. Sure singing is thirsty work and vocal chords need to be lubricated!

Sunday was a glorious day in more ways than one. The sun was shining, it was warm and windless so it was a real cracker. We were up early to perform at 10 mass, ourselves and Gerry and Catherine and Mary O’Driscoll sang a long lost island song, which was particularly poignant. After mass Ciarán asked if we would like to take a trip to the Fastnet on the Mary Ellen Carter, a 50’ yacht and a real beauty. Four of us went along with Mary and Ciarán and friends. What a glorious trip it was. Relatively warm with a pleasant rolling sea, the sails garnered up to 8 knots from the wind and we were there and back  in two hours. It was something else, it really was. We sang a few songs too: John Kanaka as we rounded the Fastnet and Francis Beaufort as we headed back to harbour, a world premiere as it was never sang in public before. Two hardy souls went for a swim and, I’ll tell you, they had to be hardy as the water was freeeeezing.

We spent the afternoon singing and listening to songs: The Skibereen Brass Band were in great form and Danny too was cajoled into singing a few wonderful songs. Later that evening we sang more songs and Allison, an Irish-born American girl, sang three beautiful songs including one or two of her own compositions (Allison & Zoë). Danny too made an appearance, as he said he would, and he was superb as usual. It is worth going down alone to hear Danny perform. Danny and Mary also sang two songs together. Ah wonderful.

We got the 9 o’clock ferry in the morning but missed our usual breakfast in Baltimore (the electricity was off) so we headed elsewhere and from there home to Port Láirge. What a weekend. We were all there (increasingly hard to achieve now!!), we sang well and we remembered our absent friends. Go hiontach ar fad!


Thanks to Ciarán and Mary O'Driscoll for inviting us and for their kind hospitality over the long weekend.

Woodstown, Waterford

11th August: The annual Woodstown Fair was held in pleasant weather in the grounds of the former Rosminian Centre (now owned by TUSLA) in Woodstown at the entrance to Waterford Harbour and in sight of Creadan Head. It was a family event and there were all sorts of activities to keep the children and their parents happy. The RNLI were there too and we sang heartily from an elevated position overlooking the event. We are well practiced now after mighty singing sessions, two weekends in a row! All aboard.

Hook Head, Wexford

10th August: We were delighted to be asked to perform at the launch of the Save our Seas initiative at Hook Head Lighthouse and Interpretative Centre. Mind you, the seas were high and mighty, with a stiff gale blowing but it was dramatic for all of that. We sang in the new SOS building, in the main Centre and then later on for invited guests in the Lighthouse itself. We were well fed and watered too. Lovely.


Festival du Chant de Marin, Paimpol, France


2nd, 3rd, 4th August: Magnifique, go h-iontach ar fad, wonderful. In any language, it is hard to find words to describe this bi-annual Festival in Brittany, 2019 being the 30th year of the event. It is absolutely awe-inspiring, massive and seriously musical. It is also a showcase for all things maritime and when the weather is good – which it was – the result is something truly impressive. It was hard to take it all in or to see and hear everything.

There were big name goups there from several countries. Naturally there were many French groups, three from England, one from Wales, Scotland and there were groups from USA, Brazil, Russia, Poland, Africa, Canada etc, so we were in good company. Two Irish groups were performing, ourselves and Kila, an Irish traditional band that is known and loved all over the world for their mix of music. It was a pleasure to get the chance to listen to them performing and to talk with Dee who heard us perform and came up to chat with us afterwards. All in all there were 160 groups and a staggering 2000 performers. God only knows how many people were involved in the planning and running of the Festival.


Au programme, musiques du monde, chants de marins, musique bretonne, arts de la rue et des quais, festoù-noz, expositions, dégustations de produit locaux sans oublier les quelques 200 bateaux traditionnels, animations jeune publique, à la fois acteurs et décor magnifique du name the activity and it was there!


We left Waterford early on Thursday morning (1st) for a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Nantes and then a three hour drive north to Tréguier, some 15 km west of Paimpol, where we were staying in the local lyceé. We were up early on Friday morning and we made our way to Paimpol to obtain our instructions, wrist bands, accreditation badges and – most importantly – our drinks vouchers. The accreditation badge was particularly important as it allowed each performer access to restricted areas as well as entry to the the dining hall. Given what has happened in France, security was tight with private security, the gendarmerie and even the army, all on standby in case of any issues and, thankfully, there were none. But it was all low key and in no way interfered with the enjoyment of the Festival. It was reassuring too that it was present and that we were in safe hands.

We had three performances per day over the three days of the Festival, all on the quayside where all the action was, and the performances were well spaced out so we could relax, dine and chat between gigs and get ready for the next one. The dining was sumptuous. We were fed three times a day. Breakfast was coffee, baguette (as much as you wanted) and corn flakes if required. The meals at lunch time and evening time were superb, prepared and distributed by a team of dedicated volunteers and professional staff. And what a team they were too. The dining hall was also likely to erupt into song at any timeas one group after another entertained the entertainers. The last night was particularly memorable when all the groups had finished performing, the hall was full, the wine was flowing and the music was outstanding. There was time after the evening meal to savour the big name performers on the variousa stages and were they impressive. The packed audiences definitely got their money's worth.


What a Festival. Full of powerful performers and their music. It was superbly well organised and with military precision but for all of that it was thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable. The Festival was blessed with good weather too, appreciative audiences and wonderful people. It was indeed a joy to be part of it.

Thank you to the Paimpol Festival du Chant do Marin for inviting us. Merci beaucoup.


Dunmore East

26th July: It was a pleasure for Olly and Joe to make a presentation to Gena Cobden and Emer Bailey of St Andrews Church and to Margaret Barry, Fundraising Chair of the Dunmore East RNLI and Rosanna Burke also of the RNLI, on behalf of Hooks and Crookes from the proceeds of the very successful concert held in St Andrews Church on Saturday 19th May during the Dunmore East Harbour & Shanty Festival.

St AndrewsRNLI

Ballycastle & Rathlin Island

24th-27th May: After arriving in Ballycastle on Friday afternoon we went to the local library to sing a song for Joe's friend. Then, having met Mary O’Driscoll who advised on our billeting location, we went to Tessies for a jar and met Terence and Kate Bakewell who welcomed us with typical Ballycastle friendliness. Mary and Ciaran O'Driscoll arrived and brought us to our luxurious accommodation in a yacht, the Mary Ellen Carter, moored in the marina and so close to everything. Dinner and a very pleasant evening followed with Mary & Ciaran, where we were joined by their son David and wife Emer. Some of us retired to the cot but one poor thirsty shantyman (guess who?) retired instead to Tessies for a night cap!

Saturday started with flash mob performances at 18 venues: Bay Café first where we had breakfast, then supermarkets x3, hairdressers x3, beauty salon x1, butchers x1, café x2, garden centre x1, gift shop x1, chemist x2, RNLI tent on seafront x1, drummer session at a Festival event x1 and marquee x1. After all of that we watched Leinster beat Glasgow in Tessies Bar, followed by dinner in the Marine Hotel and then back to Tessies for a singing session until 12 midnight (rather early for us but we had to take the early ferry to Rathlin the following morning).


We were on the ferry at 10am and we played music all the way across to Rathlin Island to keep our minds off the rolling sea, which is a great way for the landlubbers among us of keeping sea sickness at bay!! Joe’s box got a good airing and we even managed to sing Maids When you’re Young, Never Wed an Owl Man (at 10 in the morning!). Mary met us at the Manor House which she manages for the National Heritage Trust. After visiting our new lodgings we were off to Mass at 12 noon where we sang a few appropriate songs for the congregation, followed by some flash mobbing in the craft shop, the treasures shop and finally McCuaigs bar (thanks Catriona for the free drinks). After a 35-minute singing session there, we were plied with more drink by Cathy, a Waterford woman living on the island for 46 years. It was a privilege then to attend the rehearsal for the Monday Concert in St Thomas's Church and we met the lovely ladies from the Rathlin Sound Choir. We sang a few songs too but not particularly well (all rehearsals are usually like that). It was agreed that the choir and ourselves would sing Bhaidín at the concert. We had dinner at the Manor House with Mary and Ciaran, followed by a very nice session with gentle songs and stories. After breakfast on Monday morning in the Manor House, we went for a walk to the East Lighthouse and Olly in typical fashion chased many rabbits along the way. Thankfully he didn’t catch any, but he might have lost an ounce or two in the process. The reception before the concert was packed with standing room only and it was the best reception we have had in a long time. The entire concert was videoed by the Rathlin Sound Choir and Mary O'Driscoll captured us performing on video, which hopefully will appear in due course for promo purposes.

All good things come to an end and after many photographs and a fond farewell to Mary and Ciaran we took the ferry back to Ballycastle. Present on the ferry were a BBC TV crew from Scotland who were compiling a feature on kelp farming. We played music and sang songs all the way back to Ballycastle to the enjoyment of passengers and crew and much footage by the BBC Scotland team. Having berthed we drove straight home and arrived in the Deise after 9pm. It was a very pleasant experience and enjoyable event for the Rathlin3 (or the Ballycastle3?). It would have been good to have the full team or at least one or two more with us but for all of that we achieved a lot and made some new friends too.


Dunmore East Harbour Festival

17-19 May: For all the details of this fabuluous event click here



Dungarvan Food Festival

27th April 2019: The Dungarvan Food Festival is in its 11th year and it gets bigger and better every year. So we were delighted to be back again for the umpteenth time and performing in front of large and appreciative audiences, admittedly more interested in food than in shanties, but they enjoy the songs all the same. It was fairly windy (Storm Hannah hit the country with a vengeance last night) and a rain shower landed upon us on our first song and on our last song, but it was lovely in between. Over then to The Moorings for lunch and a pint, and that was lovely too. Thanks too to The Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club for allowing us to warm up there (and for the coffee).


Patrick O'Keeffe, Titanic Survivor

15th April 2019: The Titanic struck an iceberg just before midnight on the 14th April 1912 and she sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. On board was Patrick O’Keeffe, the only person on the ship from Waterford. Patrick was born in Little Micheal Street in the City in 1890 and decided to emigrate to America when he was 19. In 1912 he returned to Waterford for a family holiday but he was persuaded to stay a week longer than anticipated, so he had to change his ticket from the Baltic to the Titanic, which he joined at Cobh on the 11 April. When she went down, Patrick assisted many passengers onto life-rafts before they were rescued by the Carpathia and taken to New York, where Patrick stayed until he died in 1939, without ever having returned to Ireland and his native City.

It was fitting, therefore, that Waterford Civic Trust remembered Patrick, on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and a plaque was unveiled in his honour on the wall of the house where he was born in Little Micheal Street. We were delighted to sing a song (appropriately enough, The Lighthouse Song) at the unveiling of the plaque, despite the horrendous weather, and to sing again in Geoffs bar down the road, where the occasion was celebrated with speeches by Des Griffin of the Waterford Civic Trust, the Mayor of Waterford Councillor Declan Doocey and by O’Keeffe family members. A fitting occasion indeed.

17th March: The Dunmore East Harbour Festival ran a float in the St Patrick's Day Parade in Waterford City on Sunday 17th March and it was mentioned that the Harbour Festival would be a fun-filled jamboree of family events laced with shanty music and song. Mary, the MC, said she listened to a great flavour of what was to come in The Strand in Dunmore on the previous night (Saturday 16th March) and very much enjoyed the sea shanties heartily sung by Hooks and Crookes.

St Patrick's Day Parade


16 March: It was great to be singing sea songs and shanties to the revellers tonight in The Strand, especially down in Dunmore East, which is steeped in firshing lore and tales of the sea. Especially too on the eve of St Patricks Day, the annual celebration of our patron saint, who is celebrated all over the world by all nations at this time of the year. Roll on the Festival, when there will be much, much more shanty singing all over Dunmore East.

Strand, Dunmore East


All aboard

Mooring Page