4 days on The Emerald Isle.

2 or so weeks ago I mustered up the gusto and finances to trek to Ireland to play a few gigs supporting friends Yngve and the Innocent. The short trip left me sleep-deprived and fully infected by The Emerald Isles legendary allure. It felt sore to leave the Irish shores on a huge ferry having been thrown into the countries charming culture for such an intense and short period of time. It really is a very difficult country to leave, even after just 4 days.

From the 5am darkness of Euston station I travelled all day and into the night to meet Yngve and the boys in Cork, on the South East Coast of Ireland. Several trains led me through tiny Welsh Seaside towns including Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch and Bangor. I have to admit I didnt want to see any of them, I was deleriously tired and when not drifting into sleep I had Knut Hamsens ‘Mysteries’ as a companion (NB. its an amazing story). I began the 3 hour drive down to Cork from Dublin in my rental car and haven for the next 3 days –  a tank of a Toyota which felt like it cruised at about 140kmph, which is about 60mph I believe. This was far too nice a car for a driver of my skill to be left in control of, later events will attest to that.

I made it down in time for a gig at The Crane Lane Theatre, the crowd was luke warm due to the Saturday night free entry atmosphere but its didnt matter a jot, Cork was far more interesting than the inside of my Toyota. The pre-gig conversations with randoms made me feel alive instantly, the lack of politeness and respect for tedious conversation warmups was refreshing, nobody wanted to know anybodys name, instead they were more interested in discussing treatments for pederasts and the political situation in South Africa, I know nothing about either. After the gig Cork began to show its true colours, such a vibrant place, eye contact, smiles, different nationalities all drawn to this little town, an artistic hub of sorts I thought.

Next morning I dinged the car on a foot high bollard then we headed over to the beautiful and barren West coast of Ireland. Note to self – always buy that extra insurance when renting a tank. I beat the boys to Lisdoonvarna due to the sheer speed of my car.

The area around Lisdoonvarna is the stuff of folklore, surreal rolling hills, low, handmade stone walls, beaches so barren with seascapes so violent that they are intimidating and hypnotic. We played a great show at a tiny tavern in the village packed with German tourists, Australian cracked madmen and the most hospitable hosts I think Ive come across. Yngve and the boys played a gig which really showed their goods, the music suited the situation perfectly, characteristically tight and polished and a crafted hour and a half set which accelerated towards a pretty hilarious disco ending. The lock-in after the gig was heartwarming, free guinness and spirits til 7am plus the most incredible smoked chicken, pork and salmon from the nearby smoke house…excellent preparation for a 4 hour drive to Wexford the next day – for what I thought would be my last gig.

Thankyou Relentless Energy Drink for proving to me that I can drink all night, drive all day then play one of the best gigs Ive had in ages in Wexford. The audience here were amazing, there were only about 15 of them, but the honesty and lack of pretension made their presence mean more than that of a typical sell out group of stand-offish Londoners. Post gig drinks were hampered by the fact that my drive back to Dublin started at 5am, I had 1 hours sleep in one of the nicest hotel rooms Ive been in (Thanks Trisha) then dubiously crossed Wexford bridge back to my Toyota. They had some killer tunes on the radio that morning, the lack of pretension in Ireland definately extends to the radio playlists – ‘Nothing Compares to You’, ‘Hotel California’ – fuck sleeping when the radios this good.

Having broken myself to get the car back to the rental shop by 7:45am I arrived at the ferry port to find that my ferry home was cancelled, this made me mad. Profits go up in smoke when youre mad, all the hard work Id done selling my albums across Ireland seemed insignificant next to my tiredness, I spent 10 quid getting back to Dublin, 10 quid on breakfast, 20 quid on a bed and I knew I was going to spend a whole lot more that day getting pissed. The ferry cancellation meant I had missed a very special occasion back home which I ruminated on severly for a few hours, but after a few hours at a Dublin Hostel I rightly decided I was lucky either way to be spending another night in Ireland and stopped moping sharpish.

Chance meetings are one of the most life affirming things and they seem to happen a lot in Ireland, less people, less landmass, more freaky rendevous. I bumped into David, a friend from the night before whilst eating some hideous, delicious burger and the day started to pan out. Yngve and the boys were going to be in town that night too so I may get to play another gig – sweet.

1 very over-tired and sketchy solo set at The Workmans Club later and it was definately time to go home, I met loads of wicked people that day/night – providence, and Yngve and the boys sounded like a lounge jazz band without Demian on the drums. The ferry home was like a Rolls Royce and I slept for a good few hours. Back into the shocking fray of London, good bye Ireland and thanks x.

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