So at 9:30 AM the bus pulled into our hotel parking lot loaded with the music tour group. The bus is medium sized - we are a group of 25 plus a driver and guide. We say hello as we head to the last row of the 32 passenger bus - which was fine with me- room to stretch my leg in the aisle and two steps up so we have quite the panoramic view out the front window of the bus and over the heads of all fellow passengers.
We head to Adare for a stop at a park - time to walk around after a introduction "go around" in the local band shell. We find that of the 23 "guests" of Johnsmith and his wife Jo (the musician host is Johnsmith from WI) there are 11 associated with one family. The rundown - which I only clearly understood over time- was twins and their husbands, their brother and his wife (all six from Wisconsin) and their younger sister and her husband (from Idaho) and their cousin and her husband (from Pennsylvania) along with a college friend from Maryland... then there are the rest of us- two other couples from WI (who were not traveling together), a couple from OR, a couple from Iowa, a dad and son from TX/TN and the two of us... so overall we had 12 of the group from Wisconsin which to our minds was a good thing... fine Midwestern folk... LOL
so we begin to learn names and - yes the twins were identical but their spouses looked different and by day two I noticed the twins had the same faces but different hairstyles - LOL so we did learn who's who in a bit....
that first stop in Adare found us at the gates to Adare Manor where my mother and I stayed 20 years earlier (now undergoing massive renovations and closed) and the worker's cottages right outside the gate have changed a bit- now they are all commercial establishments it seems whereas back then a number were still occupied as residences -
I did actually locate one home that I had photos of 20 years apart LOL first the 1997 photo followed by the 2017 one
and here are some more from either trip- three from 1997 and six from 2017 (I remember we had lunch at the Inn Between... very cute!)
I think the below is the same as the newer photo of Adare Cottage Shop (based on door placement and the tiny bit of signage that is visible in this one)
the newer photos-
wish I had thought to load some of the old photos on my phone so I could do a comparison along the way -
the route we took in 1997 (after spending a week in Dublin) was to travel the remaining two weeks around the east, southeast, south and south west coast and end up in Adare where we transferred to Shannon airport for our trip home...
This time the trip was in a tighter area- superimposed on the prior map-
so following along on the map- we left Adare and headed down south to Kinsale for our lunch stop...
and there we had a "brush with celebrity" meeting Rick Steves at lunch. Our buddy Chuck had for many years belonged to the Old Head golf club nearby and had recommended a place for us in Kinsale called Fishy Fishy.... and we met Rick Steves at the hostess desk and ended up sitting right next to him and talking with him while we all dined on excellent food...
after lunch we had some time to walk around the town -
The tide was out and who knows when it would come back in- we weren't even sure it was all the way out and heading in or mostly out and heading out the whole way- LOL - we later learned that the dad of the family group was quite a sailor but on lakes not on tidal seas...
as we headed to our destination for the day's journey of Rosscarbery we passed this roadside shrine who had a miraculous history and caused quite a fury for a while back several decades ago...
we arrived at the Celtic Ross hotel (our home for three nights) and had a group dinner with a private concert following dinner. The concert turned out to be my favorite performer of the whole trip - John
Spillane...(photo from the internet)
Spillane grew up in the Cork suburb of Wilton, in a family of five boys. He was educated in Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown. Raised by his mother she influenced his musical nature who taught him a variety of Cork songs including "The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee" and "The Lonely Woods of Upton". A shy child who shunned the spotlight, he got his first guitar at the age of fifteen and joined his first band in school. When he first began his main influences derived from artists like the Beatles, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. His beginnings were more rock than anything else until he had a change of heart.
"When I started out with rock bands, I sang in an American accent. Then I heard real Americans sing the blues and it made me feel like a fraud. Ever since then, the most important thing for me is to be true to who I am and where I come from."
After finishing the leaving cert he took a hiatus in order to briefly work as a clerk in a post office, but his old band lured him back to his real calling, music. He hopped in a van with his band 'Sabre' and toured around Ireland playing rock music. It all fell apart according to Spillane but it was no matter as at that point he had realized that trad was what he really wanted to immerse himself in and began his career as a professional musician at the age of 20.
He has since worked with TG4 on documentaries about emigration from Ireland.
John is a two-time Meteor award winner and one of the most accomplished songwriters in Ireland today. Among those who have covered his songs are Christy Moore, Karan Casey, Pauline Scanlon, Cathy Ryan, Sharon Shannon, Sean Keane, George Murphy, to name a few. (wikipedia and newspaper resources)
His lyrics were magical and his melodies were haunting along with guitar playing excellence the show came straight from his very own "hit factory" and as he predicted, I "fell under his spell" LOL
Check out my favorite of his called "There Was a Man" or Phil's "Passage West" both are perfect examples of why this guy is really really famous in Ireland (he had his own TV show!)
and we were lucky enough to have a song at dinner from our music host Johnsmith and it was a great fun song called Kickin This Stone - and it totally stuck - LOL and ear worm so be careful to listen to it - have it in with some other tunes LOL....
we headed to bed and this final photo for the post was taken from our window as we got ourselves organized for the morning -
tomorrow a new adventure begins with time along the southern coast- so stay tuned....