Posted by: mdmusingsie | July 20, 2014

Sultry Saturday

On a sultry Saturday afternoon I headed into Dublin. Instead of sultry I think they call days like this “soft” here. It was cloudy and on the warm side but very humid. For an island, you’d think it would always be humid, but I don’t find that to be case. I only notice when the humidity spikes along with the temperature. The warmer temperatures I can deal with for a few days at a time, but the humidity can go back to the tropics where it belongs. Since it only gets warm for short periods here, air conditioning is almost unheard of in homes; though it might be worth investing in a de-humidifier.

Anyway, it wasn’t just a casual visit to the city, I was going to see one of my favorite Irish bands, Altan, plat at the National Concert Hall.

For those not familiar with the city, the National Concert Hall is about a 2 minute walk from St. Stephen’s Green, and even if you’re not familiar with the city, you may be familiar with my blog and my fascination with the swans in that park.

I couldn’t go to the concert without checking on the progress of the cygnets. In just a hair over a month they have grown significantly. Whilst still mostly grey, there are bits where you can see the white beginning to form. Their coats appear a bit motley at the moment as the fluffy baby feathers are swapped for the sleeker adult version.

SSG_Cygnets_20140719a_sm SSG_Cygnets_20140719e_sm

As I was standing admiring the lovely creatures, the mother (I’m assuming or at least one of the parents) opened her mouth and made a sound like “haaaa” in a hissing sort of voice as if she was trying to clear her throat. This was repeated several times as a gentleman walked a pair of bullmastiffs by, and I realized she was doing her hissing at them, sensing some kind of threat. Not until they had passed did she stop. I felt a certain sadness for her efforts, as she would have been no match for the massive mutts; though I suspect she would have given her life in defense of her children, just like most any mother. Luckily they passed without incident, though the dogs did strain somewhat against their leashes.

Look, Mom, I can swim with only one leg.

Look, Mom, I can swim with only one leg.

Stealthy mallard snuck in while I was taking this photo

Stealthy mallard snuck in while I was taking this photo

The concert was lovely. Altan always puts on a great show and the bit of banter between the members along with Ciarán Tourish’s sharp wit makes for top class entertainment. Dermot Byrne was replaced on this occasion with Martin Tourish, a cousin of Ciarán, who filled in admirably. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh has such a beautiful voice and you can feel the emotion in the songs she sings.

For Altan fans, you’ll be delighted to know they are heading to Nashville, Tennessee (USA) to record a new album and will be performing a few gigs while they’re stateside. Interestingly, they’re using crowd-funding technology to involve the fans and let them score some swag in the process – you can sponsor to receive anything from a signed CD to getting your name in the credits all the way up to original cover art or a house concert!

Because the gig was at the National Concert Hall, photographs were not allowed, but you can catch a glimpse of them at www.altan.ie where you can also check out the assorted options you can receive for assisting in funding the new CD (yes, I’ve made my pledge and no I don’t get any perks for posting this here – it’s my goodwill gesture to support great Irish music).

Altan are truly one of the finest trad bands around and a joy to hear live or on CD. A rewarding end to a sultry Saturday in Dublin.

(oops, this got stuck as a draft for months and I didn’t realize it)

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