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Cape Clear & Godstock 2020

21-23rd Aug: It was great to be invited back again to Cape Clear in August 2020 for the concert fundraiser for the painting of Séipéal Naomh Chiaráin and the installation of a wheelchair access ramp. It was a very different trip this year because of Covid-19 restrictions. We had to practice social distancing at all times, wear face masks when appropriate and wash our hands as often as possible. It was also a rough crossing on our way out on the Friday evening ferry from Baltimore after Storm Ellen wreaked her havoc a few days before (and Storm Francis was as bad a few days later, after we were safely back in Waterford).

What a treat it was too for some of us to sleep in the picturesque harbour on the Mary Ellen Carter on the Friday night, while the other two landlubbers dozed in the high comforts of Ciaráin & Mary’s house further up on the hill, looking down on us like the proverbial Bilberry Goats. Timmy, as any good admiral would do, rolled out the grog and gave the crew a lash or two of the Tullamore Uisce Beatha.

The main concert was on Saturday afternoon in Séipéal Naomh Ciaráin at 3pm. The acoustics there are wonderful and are ideally suited to the Skibereen Brass Band who led off in fine style, followed by us with two nice shanties. To calm the audience Margaret Higgins read some of her own poetry compositions followed by Maeve McCann, a superb Fermanagh musician, on the uileann pipes and tin whistle. Kevin and Danny, both living on the island, sang a couple of songs including a haunting version of The Rose of Allendale. And then it went round again and we finished off with Home from the Sea.

We walked around the Island on Saturday and Sunday, well as far as we could and were able to (there are some steep hills on Cape!) and we were up bright and early on Sunday morning for mass at 10, where we sang again. We also sang a few songs while enjoying the fine dining in Ciaráin Danny Mikes, which we washed down with black porter (Guinness and Murphys).

Despite the restrictions and the protocols we had a very enjoyable weekend and it was wonderful to get out together and to sing and to meet old and new friends, even if we had to be extra careful. It also emphasised to us the importance of doing just that after the last five months of lockdown and hassle arising from the global pandemic. It looks like we will have to live with this virus for some time but it can be done with care and attention to detail.

As ever, we are very grateful to Mary and Ciaráin for inviting us, for wining, dining and accommodating us, for putting up with us and above all for their magnificent hospitality. Bhí and deire seachtain go h-iontach ar fad!!


Dunmore East

14th June: It is just fantastic to be able to move around the county and enjoy the good sunshine, after all the hassle over the last few months. Dunmore East was busy in the morning today and getting busier by the minute. People were walking, cycling, sailing, swimming, angling and just generally enjoying the ambience of the village in the good weather conditions. Generally people were obeying the rules about social distancing but some weren't and it isn't easy to do so in such good weather. A pity too to see overfull rubbish bins near the yacht club and the gulls were gathering to have a feed and generally create a mess. Over at the auction wharf, the crabs were being unloaded and they'll be enjoyed somewhere sometime soon. But it was heavenly and great to see.

Helvick Pier

12th June: Coastal communities always remember those who have died tragically or those who have died in the service of others or indeed those who have died in the cause of freedom. If you go to Helvick pier and ramble around you will find memorials to several who have died in such circumstances and who will always be remembered.

Heed not the stormy seas, though loudly they roar

Aishling Gabrielle

5th June: The ferry, Aisling Gabrielle, was tied up today on the Port of Waterford Marina on the Quay. It ferries cars and people between Greencastle, Co Down and Greenore Co Louth, throughout the year. The ferry service is, however, suspended since March due to Covid restrictions, so she must be down our way for a refit or for maintenance. And what a fine ferry it is too, a real beauty.

In fact, even though the boarding ramps were removed while up in Waterford City, the Aisling Gabrielle was down to replace The Tintern or the Passage East Ferry while it was in for maintenance. The same company own both ferries. She is due to head back north over the weekend (6/7 June), though there might be a change of plan given the strong northwesterly that's blowing. And it's cold too...brrrrr


Brendan Bowyer

31st May: Brendan was a true son of Waterford who entertained audiences all over the world as indeed did his father Stanley before him in Waterford. Brendan sadly passed away on the 28th May 2020, just a few days ago in Las Vegas. His most famous song was The Hucklebuck

and we were proud to listen to Brendan sing the same song during the Tall Ships Festival in Waterford City in 2011, while we waited to sing Óro on the same programme.

So while we didn't exactly share the same stage as Brendan, we were delighted to be there and to follow in his footsteps.

Slán a bhuachaill

20th May: Bad as the pandemic has been and, unfortunately, tragic for many, those of us who have been able to get out under strict self-distancing rules, have done so in very nice weather, which has been some consolation during these difficult times. The light has been fantastic, and even though there hasn't been too much movement on the River Suir, it has looked well, as has the St John's River, a tributary of the Suir. The Arie Dirk appeared on the marina opposite Reginald's Tower and it is an unusual looking dredger (for mussels, presumably). Immature gulls have been about the John's River and these are probably birds that fledged from rooftop nests in the City last year, an increasing phenomenon in Waterford City in the last few years. In fact, there is currently a nesting pair of Herring Gulls on high roofs on either side of St Benildus Church and it looks like Lesser Black-backed Gulls are nesting on buildings along the Quay. All is quiet with the adults for the moment as they incubate eggs but it will be noisy when the young hatch in a few weeks. Since it is National Biodiversity Week, it is no harm to mention the Buzzard soaring high over the Island downriver, where a pair of Jays were also seen near the ferry. There's a Raven nest too on the nigh pylons at Bilberry, though they may not have bred there this year.

19th May: Simon Wicken was mayor of Waterford for just one year, way back in 1413. Yes, in 1413. He was a charismatic character, maybe too much so, given he lasted for just one year in the job. His claim to fame was that he devised a daring scheme to thwart the O’Driscoll’s in Baltimore in west Cork, a place we in Hooks and Crookes know well. He set off for Baltimore around Christmas 1413 and managed to gain access to the O’Driscoll fortress and informed all present that he was there for the food, the wine and the dancing. They believed him, surprisingly, and during the dance he captured all the O’Driscolls present and then proceeded to have a carol service, given that it was Christmas. Our friendly mayor hauled all his catch back to Waterford, where there was great celebration, singing and carousing to celebrate the safe arrival of the Mayor, his gallant crew and the captured O’Driscolls, who were probably eventually ransomed and went on their merry way. He was some man, our Simon Wicken, always game for a song. How interesting too that over 600 years later we in Hooks and Crookes look forward every year to heading down to Baltimore and to Cape Clear to sing and make merry among the O’Driscolls (though it is not looking good for this year). A pint and a song in Cotters Bar would be more than nice now and, if we sang a song or two there, no doubt Simon would be happy, as he was always good for a song himself.

Simon Wicken

16th May: There wasn't a boat on the Suir in Waterford City this morning and no one on any of the marinas. It was eerily quiet and quiet enough too along the Quay. What a strange world given that the place should have been buzzzing. Ah well. It won't be this way forever. It was nice though to see the house martins building their nests under the eaves of the offices around Adelphi Quay and gathering as much mud as they could carry from the muddy banks of the river nearby; there's plenty of it there for them. Just upriver, a female mallard was busy wading upriver against the falling tide and her two ducklings, not long hatched, were under pressure to keep up with her. Mind you, two ducklings is a small number for a mallard. An otter had been about as well, as he left his card on a rock near the Adelphi apartments that wasn't there last Thursday. And it was great too to see a mute swan on a flimsy looking nest on the St John's River at Johnstown, with the second bird of the pair nearby. Nice, for the times we live in!

4th May: We are still on lockdown but are able at least to meet virtually over Zoom. Not as good as the real thing but we could sing an individual song, have a chat and even have some grog. Timmy appeared and then disappeared into the cloud and Shay couldn't get connected even though we were sure he was hot wired! Next week, all six of us hopefully! What a strange world we now live in.

Zoom 4th May 2020

April update: Ireland is in lockdown because of the Corona virus and movement is severely restricted. All events have been cancelled and Hooks & Crookes are not performing anywhere, anytime soon. But we are looking forward to resuming singing soon and hopefully we will be on the road again over the summer, somewhere.

April 30th: Nice to see the two tugboats operated by Fastnet Shipping Ltd tied up along the Waterford marina today: the Fastnet Puffin and the Fastnet Pelican, appropriately named after birds, though it's not likely that a pelican will ever be seen off the Fastnet. It also brings back fond memories of when some of us in Hooks and Crookes sailed around the Fastnet on the Mary Ellen Carter with Ciarán & Mary O'Driscoll last August. That was some trip and a superb memory to have. We even sang Francis Beaufort as we rounded the rock. Admiral Beaufort would have been pleased!



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