Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 27, 2011

Singing, Dancing, and Adventures on the Bus

Besides castles, my other obsession is music. While I generally enjoy a wide range of musical styles, traditional Irish music seems to speak to something in the core of my being. Many of my favorites are listed on my web site, and if I can catch them in a performance nearby (or sometimes not so near), I make an effort to attend. Two of my personal favorites were performing at the Oranmore Celtic Shore Festival this weekend – Liam O’Maonlai and Moya Brennan. Both are talented in their own right, in addition to being part of the well known groups Hothouse Flowers and Clannad, respectively.

Without a car, I debated how to get to the festival. Oranmore isn’t far from Galway City, so I looked into Bus Eireann and of course there’s always a taxi. About a week or so before the festival I found out they were offering bus service from assorted places around the area, which would work out perfectly. Most of my travels involve some type of adventure, or interesting anecdote, and this was no different.

The bus from Galway City was scheduled to leave from the Cathedral “between 4 and 5,” which I fondly call Irish Time (someday I’ll write a post about Irish Time – it moves in mysterious ways). Arriving in the half 4 time frame, I was the first on the bus, closely followed by another gentleman. We were informed that due to the sparse participation on the bus service, they would take us there for free instead of the 5 Euro charge it was to be, but we would be on our own for the return. No problem as I had already investigated the options. As we were just heading out the driver spied another set of potential patrons across the way and pulled over to check. A group of about half a dozen college aged students were in fact headed to the festival and climbed aboard.

With a few more patrons on the bus, the driver then worried whether he should have waited until 5 pm (we had left around 4:45). Since we were already headed past the pickup area, he drove a few streets over to the university (NUIG) where he planned to make a short circuit through the campus parking lot and return to the Cathedral bus stop to make sure no one else was waiting.

Who would have known that a wedding was taking place on campus, and here comes a tour bus, just as the photographer is attempting to take artfully staged pictures of the bride. Though the bus did stop, in an effort to allow them to finish their photos, we were waved on with a smile and a laugh from the wedding party. There were smiles and laughs onboard, as well, since we were certainly enjoying the unexpected entertainment. (Best wishes to the newly married couple, by the way.)

Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra recently released a beautiful CD – Voices and Harps and if you enjoy Irish music I strongly suggest you check it out. I had been very disappointed to find out, after the dates had passed, about the Voices and Harps workshops they gave in Donegal in June – I would have loved to go. Maybe they will schedule additional workshops (hint, hint). Unlike the performance I saw at Donegal Live in Dublin earlier in the year, this performance had a much broader selection of music – tunes from the new CD, of course, as well as Clannad pieces and from her other solo efforts. She is a beautiful singer, multi-talented musician, and always puts on a good show. Her daughter Aisling plays along, as well, on guitar.

Liam O’Maonlai was not only a performer but a spectator as well; out among the (sadly) sparse crowd, enjoying the music of the other acts performing at the festival and engaging with some friends (or acquaintances) in some lively dancing during the Moya Brennan set. He has a wicked sense of humor (though many in the audience didn’t quite catch on to some of it, though I did), and is a consummate performer. He’s as comfortable singing sean nós style, alone on stage (no talking, please), as he is behind the keyboard, bodhrán, whistle, or any of the other myriad of instruments he plays. He is currently working on a music and dance theatre production based on his first solo CD, Rian, which plays in Dublin in early October. A “must see” for fans of this amazingly talented artist. Both Liam and Moya are passionate about their music and it is definitely reflected in their performances.

Bhí ceol agus craic ann – entertainment, Irish style.


  1. Sounds enchanting!

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