Back at it again with day two of a Wild West Irish Tour’s brief coverage for you all!

Today began with plenty of food, laughter, and caffeine – everything at the B & B is provided; you’re never left wanting for anything. Geraldine made sure we had fuel in our tanks before we set out on our adventures for the day: learning a bit about the man who made the Land of Heart’s Desire more visible, a roam around an old-world castle, a sweeping adventure across a silvery lake, a trip to a cozy tea room, and a great fanfare of local pub music that outdid anything I’d heard before…

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We began by visiting the grave of the one and only W.B. Yeats in a beautiful cemetery under the watchful eye of a familiar mountain. As you can see, Yeats himself seems to emulate the ‘great things in simple places’ motif – his desire to be memorialized without grandeur is evident here.

It was a strange joy; finding out a bit about his life from David; one of our capable driver-guides. I learned much from him about Yeats that I hadn’t been able to pick up from my studies, and everyone was enraptured with the way he told a story. Some of us broke off after a brief chat about the poet in question with the simple headstone to explore the church grounds – looking at said church’s interior, admiring the tall crosses, or simply breathing in the fresh air before we moved on to our next big adventure…

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Which happened to be the magnificent castle.

It was constructed; originally, in the 17th century – some of the old stone work from a structure prior is still visible to the eye, along with many fascinating details of varying eras. Rolling up to it is impressive enough as-is, considering its significant size and the way the castle drops off into a grand overview of the enormous lake beside it. The guides IMG_6074inside were friendly; funny, attentive, and eager for questions as the Wild Westies explored the places prestigious families would’ve made their dwellings in, admired woodwork remastered by means of its original craftsmanship, and found out the real use for a moat in this particular Irish abode…

An interesting highlight here is that during one of our presentations David decided to go test out the acoustics upstairs in the former banquet hall of the castle on a whim. It was something so authentically miraculous to hear beautiful music whilst waiting for the next presentation to start downstairs – a haunting lilt that filled the halls with something of another time. It was as if the castle had come briefly back to life; though it still thrives with the care and attentiveness of its guides and teachers; as well as consistent efforts in historically-accurate restoration. Altogether it was yet again a fabulous emphasis on people vs. area – not against one another, but feeding into one another in terms of culture, preservation, and enthusiastic willingness to share their history [and selves] with others.

We followed our “pied piper” and Senan [our other capable, informative driver] then out toward the lake to board a ship manned by a one umistakably famous Captain George – as blustery in words as the gusts on the lough today; but much warmer and more welcoming. Tina; first mate [and captain’s wife!] kindly served us tea upon entry to the wonderful little vessel – a nice surprise to enjoy while we set sail on the most majestic mirror of freshwater that shone under a briefly-platinum sky.

The sun did come out to play, however – dancing across the glistening waves that lapped the edges of the boat, guiding us on toward places that held homes in the heart of Yeats’ stories & poems as well as local legend and history. Captain George got us all reciting poetry with him;  narrating our adventure with lively music and conversation, which made the journey seem timeless and grand. Towering trees – “forty shades of green,” the good Captain pointed out to all of us – lined the hills that dropped and rolled toward the lough’s surface. Standing on the deck to survey all that could be seen, breathing in that dewy air – I could not possibly recommend a more refreshing thing to experience fully.

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We swung into a tea room for lunch after disembarking; cozily snuggled into a historical local tavern – their tea menu was varied, and let me just say, you can never have too much tea…especially in Ireland. For those keeping score; I had a delightful Turkish apple-pineapple tea that required nothing but itself to be enjoyed. It was a perfect pick-me-up for the walk to follow –

 

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A walk that followed a roaring river and emerald woods up to a magnificent abbey that overlooked the land from its seat in the sun. Windows long vacant became frames for the puffy white clouds and cerulean sky; while Senan took the time to explain a few details of the abbey – from carvings of St. Francis to the grave of a priest people went to for blessings; their ailments allegedly abated by spoonfuls of said priest’s grave dirt – there’s a whole method to it, but you’ll have to come here and have a local tell you the details. I’d hate to get it wrong and lead you all astray….

 

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Which brings me back to the “pied piper” motif, actually – albeit this time, we were led to a most marvelous little pub in town that held jam sessions every so often. We were fortunate enough to squeeze in before the crowds, gathering around to hear fiddles, concertinas, guitars, and of course, another tin whistle – met with cheers, whoops, hollers, claps, and the thumping of feet against the floor. Everyone came alive when the music came out – several Wild Westies enjoyed fresh beer on tap from a friendly barkeeper. It seemed only a matter of time before a few of us were to jump up and dance – luckily, we spared the locals…for now.

Though I’ve no doubt they would’ve joined in with the dancing, actually – the energy was up and spirits high. Music, one of a few universal languages, was spoken loudly and joyously tonight. And we; the Wild Westies, were eager to listen.

 

All in all, it was a lovely action-packed day of melodies in every form that drew us together – a thread tugging many threads as one, stitching into creation a magnificent tapestry of wonderful sound and a thoroughly genuine experience.

Tomorrow we’re back at it again with more surprises in store for you yet – stay tuned for the next installment of our exciting times in the Wild West of Ireland!

Until then,

Sam Fishkind

Wild West Irish Tours

Social Media Manager & Scribe

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening! Wherever you are, whatever you’re up to, perhaps you could take a moment on this August Thursday and enjoy an international form of communication: music!

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Photograph by Wild Westie Darcy Banks (with our gratitude)!

Music has, for centuries, been a means of speaking to one another – be it a romantic love song between the wooer and the wooed, a tune to pick up one’s spirits during the war & bolster morale, or simply something to dance to and connect with others on the dancefloor. In the Land of Heart’s Desire, music is all of the above – and more.

Besides the numerous festivals Ireland has dedicated to music, its prevalence exists throughout hundreds of small venues – places such as pubs, the streets, and other unexpected realms possess a pounding energy that comes only from the sound of Irish music. Be it fiddle or flute, the delightful accordion (or even the notable tin whistle); the Wild West of Ireland is full of song. Music spills out over the cobblestones and hills to ensnare travelers in a comforting sonic blanket – encouraging them to stay and listen to what Ireland has to say in a different kind of way.

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The incomparable Cathy Jordan of the band Dervish!

On a Wild West Irish Tours adventure, finding melodies isn’t hard – following one’s feet to our secret venues and meeting who we meet almost always ensures a musical experience unlike any other.

We have had the pleasure of experiencing the resounding musical presence of a one talented Cathy Jordan of the acclaimed band Dervish, whom you might remember narrating our beautiful video encapsulating the Wild West of Ireland.

You might also recall the incredible Mirella Murray of the Cherish the Ladies and singer-songwriter Don Stiffe; who is arguably one of the finest Irish voices out there today.

Music is an intrinsic part of our journey – even during travel, we find ourselves tuning in to some truly quality playlists provided by Michael and Trish; who are, of course, connoisseurs of all things Irish (and therefore tend to pick amazing songs/artists). The harmonies of Ireland add another layer of life to a country that teems with passion and artistic exploration. We are more than happy to bring you performances of Irish song and dance – or, more aptly, bring you to the performances!

Of course, we can’t mention all this musical entertainment without bringing up our beloved Ganley Sisters – Sandra (Mayo Rose winner & Tralee Rose candidate) and Laura are another fantastic example of Celtic talent! While not musicians in the basic sense, they are communicators with every tap of their feet – a rhythm which is offset by reels and rallying notes; all of which comes together in a symphony of sharp claps and timely maneuvers.

No matter where we go in the Wild West of Ireland, we intend to take you only to the best places of Celtic song & dance. All we ask you to take with you is a willingness to tap your feet, clap your hands, and sing along if you so desire. In the Land of Heart’s Desire, the pulse can be found in the power of music.

  Until next time,

                                                                                                                Sam Fishkind

                                               Wild West Irish Tours

 Social Media Manager & Scribe