Brendan Moriarty, stories from the Fleadh.

Brendan Moriarty Tullamore Fleadh

Streets of Tullamore

The Last post about this years Fleadh Cheoil in Sligo made me nostalgic of the Fleadhs I’ve been lucky enough to attend. There are plenty of mighty stories that come from thousands upon thousands of people gathering for a festival but today’s bit of remembering is of a simple man from Kerry, Brendan Moriarty and his love of Traditional Irish music.

I want to say it was the 2007 Fleadh Cheoil in Tullamore Ireland that we had to scramble to find a place to lay our heads, the B&B’s were filled up when my daughter got the word she qualified and got the word that we could scrape together the funds to go, just her and Pop this trip and barely enough for that. Two days before the flight left Boston we managed to find a phone number of a family who was renting rooms of their house on the outskirts of Tullamore, one phone call, one yes we have a room, one yes we’ll take it, one “no credit cards, just pays us when you get here”, No deposits, no call back number, no checkin time, I love Ireland. And as it would turn out it was a lovely house in the country with one heck of a good breakfast daily.


soda bread and kerry butter, mmm.

Now as we would gather around a table that seated 11 or 12 people, one of these was a quiet person, Brendan Moriarty. Seemed Brendan was some sort of a Contractor or ran construction crews but he didn’t talk much of business (though the Man of this house tried his best to get him to). And to the dismay of the man of this house Brendan and I became friendly. Seemed that Mr. Moriarty had a love of reels and jigs and hornpipes and airs, much better to talk about than square meters or acreage or hotel projects. The real draw though was getting to talk music with a participant of the Fleadh, “What instruments are you playing, what division are you in?, Ahh flute and whistle and slow airs”. You would have thought it was Christmas morning listening to him talk music. Now Brendan knew much more than I about the ins and outs of Irish traditional music, but he also loved the fact that a youngster would travel across the Atlantic to play this music they both loved. Every morning would have a bit of Irish music discussion always polite, always quietly asked or answered and always concerned that we were enjoying our stay at the Fleadh. Sometimes  after dinner and before we headed out to the pubs to play in the myriad of different sessions there would be a tune or two played in the Parlor for Brendan, he truly appreciated the tunes.


A tin whistle is easier to put in your back pocket than a harp

On the day of competition the players played their jig or reel or air to the judge or adjudicator, they are held with little fanfare in classrooms of schools or offices, one player at a time, one song at a time, a small audience can listen but each instrument and division and singers and whistlers and such are adjudicated at the same time. So who do we see in the audience but Brendan Moriarty wanting to hear his young friend play and lend a little support along the way. He said he happened to see the tin whistle for her division on his way to another competition and thought it would be nice to hear hers, and a lovely tune she played.

Now some seven years later, in amongst the funny stories, the rollicking stories, the late nights, the early mornings, it’s the simple conversations of a quiet man about good traditional Irish music that stands out in my memory of the Fleadh Cheoil. I hope the years have been good to Brendan and I doubt he’ll ever know how much his love of music rubbed off on us all.


2014 Sligo Fleadh, make plans for next year.

Fleadh 2015Where does the time go? The 2014 Fleadh in Sligo is upon us, the Fleadh Cheoil is the place to be for Irish trad, Irish folk, Irish singers, Irish whistlers, Irish lilters, Irish storytellers, Irish characters, and Irish music lovers from around the world. As I checked the Fleadh Cheoil website I had to copy this bit:

“The Fleadh means many things to different people. The first half of the week is taken up by Scoil Éigse. Classes are held for people of all ages and abilities in traditional Irish music. Walking and historical tours are held for visitors along with films, seminars, street performances and markets.  The evening is usually spent crammed into a nice cosy little pub for a hearty sing-along, a seisiún and a ‘quiet’ drink!”

A hearty sing along in a cosy pub indeed, the Fleadh is that and so much more, the music grows as the competition day nears, street festivals, Buskers, old timers, and remarkable youngsters. What will this years Fleadh reveal? No one knows, but it might be time to make plans to attend, not this year alas, but next. The nice thing about the All Ireland Fleadhs are they are held for 2 to 3 years in the same venue. Next year the Feadh Cheoil All Ireland Fleadh will again be held in  Sligo.

Use this time to review this years Fleadh, research the best places to stay, download a map of the grounds, look for feedback from Fleadh goers and book early for next year.

So here’s some research material and make plans for the 2015 Fleadh,





Fake Irish Pubs

fake irish accent

real pub galway

I long to go back across the Atlantic and have a pint in an old pub in a small town and relax, maybe have a chat, maybe not, maybe hear some local news, maybe not, maybe even a bit of music or maybe not. But what I can be assured to not hear is a fake Irish accent singing an Irish folk song with a smugness reserved for the opera. Such was my time spent this Saturday last.

Now I have no disdain for a touristy spot throwing the crowds some Boston Irish songs, complete with Charlie on the MTA, Southie is my hometown, or Sweet Caroline. Hey I love the old American Irish songs of Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor, a little toora loora or Irish eyes are smiling or Wild Irish rose, just makes me happy.

It’s funny, and a little hard to explain, but I guess fake Irish singers are kinda like pornography according to Judge Potter, except you know it when you hear it as opposed to see it. Heck there are plenty of times a song is learned from a cd or other listening device and a little local flavor creeps into your rendition. There are times when a phrase just won’t sound right with a Boston “r” (or lack of it) instead of it’s Irish counterpart. I guess it’s when that sickly sweet, listen to me being authentic as I shove this fake Irish accent down your throat, Fake Irish singer tries to convince me he’s Paddy Reilly or Luke Kelly that it starts to make my guinness curdle, or bud, or coors, or cola, or water for that matter.

In the end I guess it comes down to passion. I would forever take a song from a bad singer singing a song they truly love, than a better voice using a song and a genre to sing songs full of condescension and superiority (thank you spell check). Oh and yea it kinda ruined my night. So here’s to looking forward to some good heartfelt music be it Irish or otherwise, to brighten spirits and celebrate the second half of summer.


Irish songs that make the summer great.

Irish songs in MaineJust back from what seemed like the travels of Ulysses, down to the Cape back to Boston, up to Maine back to Boston, then back to Maine, and all the time the siren songs of Irish Music beckoned me. Though I heard fine ballads from Celtic Clan in Maine and a good time was had by all with their typical Dublin wit keeping the crowd involved, the best times were had around the fire as the night’s conversations were highlighted with a tune or two. There is nothing that cheers a lover of Irish music more than when a fellow Irish music lover emerges from the  crowd, when they sing  the first words to “The town I loved so well” and are buoyed by a fellow voice joining in. My wife always is amused when the brother or sisterhood of Irish songs let her rip, and how much fun we get out of it.

So this brings on the question What are the Irish songs that make your summer Great?

(Now this list should be different than what your favorite summer song is FREEBIRD anyone?)

Here goes,

  1. Irish Rover, just like the upbeat tempo and the join in if you can chorus.
  2. Mairi’s Wedding, Though a Scottish song it was made famous by Van Morrison and is a favorite of many an Irish singer.
  3. Come out you Black and Tans, What’s the summer without a good old rebel tune.
  4. Lighten up, Seamus Moore, the man’s a genius, and a funny bastard to boot.
  5. Any Irish songs you know the words to and have the courage to sing.

Ok  a little bit Moore,

maybe when the night gets longer and the fire is lower some favorite ballads make their way into the summer rotation.

So my five top Irish  ballads to sing around the fire.

  1. The Auld Triangle, I like the original version for singing, the classic Luke Kelly version really only sounds right being sung with a true Irish voice, something about the slang that sounds wrong when sung with any other accent.
  2. The Bold Fenian Men, We may have good songs but we’ll never have better.
  3. The Water is Wide, An easy and pleasant song to sing, and a nice chorus for joining in.
  4. Song for Ireland, Written by an Englishman and inspired by the beautiful Dingle Peninsula, a modern classic
  5. The Parting Glass, Perfect song for the end of the night or the end of a post I’ll leave you with my favorite version and hope your summer is going well and filled with music, good times, and singing of Irish songs.




Irish music, a Maine lake, and a proper pint

A while back I traveled to the Black Bear Pub in Naples Maine to discover Guinness being poured into a 16 ounce mini pint glass. I still wake up in a cold sweat from the horror of it all. I am pleased to report that I stopped into this venue recently to see if things have changed or remained the same, and weren’t they serving a proper pint in the new fashionable redone Guinness Imperial Pint Glass, and some good Irish music to boot.

Guinness and Irish music

I tell you the Universe felt in balance again, it’s the simple things that make life good, and a good pint of Guinness, after a day at a fine Maine Lake, Listening to a good version of “The Fields of Athenry” is as good as it gets.

To continue the summer ramblings, we found ourselves invited to a friends family camping outing down on the Cape. It was a fine time and I discovered I have a long lost twin. At least that is what my wife believes as she didn’t think there was another person on the planet with an affinity for Irish ballads, old TV shows, and off handed remarks. It was nice to hear some Irish tunes around the campfire and trade stories from excursions to Ireland. Although a few of the stories were about how the pubs were taken aback by them at first, these were very independent women, The stories started out like this; “We walked into the pub with one bartender and one older man at the bar and ordered a pint. The bartender says “You must be American because here the men drink pints and the women usually order a glass of Guinness” “Well that’s not us” she says. Well this girl is funny and gregarious so I think they cut her some slack, but it was all I could do not to mention some good old pub etiquette techniques, but the damage was done and the stories were funny, and the camp fire was warm, and the company was good.

I found a new Irish Cream to brighten any campfire or dinner party for that matter, Coole Swan Irish Cream liqueur. This Irish Cream is new to my corner of the world but has been around for a bit, It isn’t as sweet as others, has a nice silky feel, and a hint of whisky on the back end, it didn’t last long, and was a hit around the fire.

Coole swan and irish music

Daughter number one is heading to the Catskills for the annual gathering of Irish musicians. Seems there will be lots of music being played, lots of music being learned, lots of music being shared, but not much sleeping being done. I’m jealous.

Daughter number two is preparing for a talent show up at the lake, we’ve had a country music extravaganza going on in preparation. It’s getting that I know as many country tunes as I do Irish, Taylor, Miranda, Katie, Blake, Travis, there’s just a buzzing around this house. I’m a lucky father with the trad tunes and country songs there’s always music happening around the house.

Hope your summer is filled with adventures,



4th of July 2014



4th of July, History repeats itself.

4th of July

Across the colonies,  the “Sons of Liberty” formed to resist the new taxation. Colonial leaders appealed to Parliament stating that as they had no representation in Parliament, the taxes were  unconstitutional and against their rights as Englishmen.

The crown anxious to pay for war debts against the French in defending the Americas seemed intent on taxing the colonies, tempers came to a head with the tea tax of 1773

Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty fed up with the tyranny of the crown struck a blow for freedom and carried out the now famous Boston Tea Party.

Though celebrated by the colonials, the Boston Tea Party quickly unified Parliament against the colonies. Angered by a direct affront to royal authority.


“Angered by a direct affront to royal authority” Hmm that reminds me of a more recent time and a more recent occupant of the seat of power.

If you listen to the current leader of the American territories you will hear him speak about the new tea party, it seems he is angered by their affront to royal authority. What is his answer to the system of checks and balances and the powers granted to the congress as we near our nations birth? Executive orders- dictated to the subjects-no approval from your representatives in Congress-King George would be proud.

Our forefathers went to war with the worlds superpower over a sales tax, can you imagine what they would have done if they were alive for the current transgressions? Let’s see

  1. The spying on American citizens with the NSA.
  2. The dream act
  3. fast and furious
  4. IRS targets American citizens not politically aligned with himself.
  5. Sues Arizona over border enforcement
  6. Pays to Import Illegal children to US then uses executive orders to stop them, wants to send troops to Texas and Arizona.
  7. Force private citizens to purchase government health care.
  8. Abandon American citizens in Benghazi, would not look good right before the election.
  9. Oh yea It’s a video, least that is what they told the parents of the dead when their caskets were delivered home. Despicable.
  10. Making recess appointments, Ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme court.
  11. Supplying Al Queda rebels in Syria.
  12. Was against Gay marriage before he was for it.
  13. Makes public school kids eat food they won’t eat.

The list could go on and on.

If you question him you are a zealot, a whacko, a threat, need to be watched, need to be audited, need to be silenced. Sounds a lot like King George, maybe history will repeat itself, maybe these tea party people maligned by their commander and chief will fight tyranny like their fore fathers, maybe Sam Adam’s memory can add some support. On July 4th 1776 a free people emerged to take on the military superpower of their time, and Declared their Independence

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the equal and independent station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change

We hold these truths to be [sacred and undeniable] selfevident, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienables, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing it’s powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes: and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, and pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to [subject] reduce them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –


So this fourth of July maybe we can remember our roots founded in the law, written in the U.S. Constitution, Perhaps We the People will muster the courage to speak up to power and fight tyranny. In the famous words of Patrick Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

Happy 4th of July, Happy Independence day, Independence it’s a nice concept,



The Irish are a funny bunch

the Irish are a funny bunchI mean this with no malice nor ill will, but there are times when the Irish are just whacked.

I suppose this is where being an American of Irish descent helps to add a little perspective, and being involved with different Irish organizations, listening to the different sides of conversations, and making note of each entities opinions and biases have led me to this conclusion. The Irish are a funny bunch.

There is a large cultural center near me, it goes through different phases of ups and downs, good times and bad. It invariably changes management every few years and the fun part is to watch the new director get Irishized. The director thinks He/She has some control of the situation until he wants to change something, and meets,-”No we been doing it this way for years”. “Sure we could do it that way, but the boys will take care of that”. “Ah I’m sure it’s a fine idea”.

Watching the frustration on the faces of these “executives” is amusing. I will have to add they they are just as much to blame. They come from a non profit executive business school point of view. They think the Irish are some monolithic group out of Finian’s Rainbow or the Quiet Man, The Irish are as monolithic as Bostonians and New Yorkers, Mainers or Vermonters. Stubborn, opinionated, goodhearted, bullheaded, bellylaugh funny, witty, suspicious, and loyal. In my old Irish gift shop an Irish friend gave me some good advice, He said don’t try to pretend you know something when you don’t and always remember the Irish come from tribal roots. Now I do not pretend to be an Irish Historian, but what I took out of this is an Irishman comes from a particular spot in Ireland and he knows its importance and carries a pride of it with him, so be careful not to jump to conclusions. And if you want to start a row just tell a man from Mayo how much you liked  Kerry.

the irish are a funny bunch

To get a real dose of Irish perspective get into a discussion of politics or religion. I thought growing up in the left wing capital of the United States would prepare me for some way out discussions, but I’ll have to say if you want your metal tested, talk to an Irish friend about politics or religion. Do yourself a favor, have a sense of humor, and be prepared for absolutely no give, no yielding, and normally extremely good logic. In the end it is the battle that is important, not the changing of your opponents position. The Irish are a funny bunch.

Around Christmas time the old shop was busy and occasionally we’ld need to have someone to babysit, pretty normal, ya I know. Well this one time I was running a little later than I’d hoped and called my friend Mairead to see if her daughter could stay a little past dinner. Of course she said no problem. Well I get home around seven, Mairead’s daughter says her mums on the way, and there’s a knock on the door. In comes Mairead Keady, pride of Roscommon, loaded down with bags from Boston Chicken. “I know your strait out, just a little bit, sit down have something to eat”. I look at Mairead, ask her if she’s feeding an army, and try to pay her for the food she’s supplying to my family. Mairead grabs my right arm and with a death grip that comes from a lifetime of hard work she tells me to put my money away. The Irish are funny bunch.

The Irish are a funny bunch

My buddy Alphie Crowe, a Clare man, was a man as full of life as I have ever had the pleasure to be around. he had a smile that brightened a room and a story for any occasion. He had a natural way of never being quiet, an infectious way of weaving an everyday story into the adventures of Ulysses. When most at a cook out in Maine were choosing between hamburgers or hotdogs, Alphie gets me to cook up some wee goat. Ya, Alphie is visiting for the day but manages to find goat and tells me to throw it on the grill. Of course this also comes with a story about the wee goats. The Irish are a funny bunch.

At the end of a trip to Galway I stopped into a pub called Murphy’s in the centre ordered a pint of Guinness and relaxed. A few moments later a bunch of young tourists from Philly pour into the place and want to know where the music is, in a loud non respectful way. The barkeep wasn’t amused and told the men that the bar was closed, last call served, and yes a mighty argument ensued. Needless to say the fellows left unserved.  Immediately after “the incident” the fellow next to me asks me what part of the States I’m from and makes me feel like I was one of the regulars there, The Irish are a funny bunch.

I had started this little post with the intention of talking about the different Irish organizations and their dysfunctional interactions, but find myself gravitating to a good laugh, or good friends, the Irish have a way of doing that to you, they are a funny bunch.




10 best Irish songs

You are at your favorite pub/bar/eatery/ and there is a nice combo playing tight Irish trad Irish folk and some contemporary music to boot, what could be better? Well sometimes a person or two will come out of the crowd to sing a song, egged on by the musicians or their friends. These impromptu sing songs can be great fun, they can also be colossal  disasters, it all depends on the song.

10 best Irish songs






Now Miss O’Connor could sing the dictionary and still get rousing applause or make a tear come to your eye if she wanted to, but if your time comes to add a song try to learn one from the list of ten best Irish songs to sing when asked.

10 best Irish songs to sing when asked.

The following videos show a few famous and many not so famous singers giving their best. Check out the list, pick one out or add one to the list in comments, Here we go.

The auld triangle.

Dirty old town.


Pub with no beer

Cliffs of Dooneen

Sam Hall

The Rare old times

Fiddlers Green

Whiskey on a Sunday.

Any song you know well and sing with commitment.  

This may be my favorite song to hear when a rookie gives it a go. Make sure you commit, know the words, sing with feeling, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

So next time you have a chance sing that song, you are sure to be memorable for all the right reasons.


New Irish voices.

I think I’m becoming a broken record, for those of you who can remember what a record is, that is. I recieved a video in my comment section with new Irish voices singing  an old Irish Folk song, which is why I love having this blog don’t you know. Polly Vaughn is the song and surprisingly is about the tragic accidental shooting of Polly Vaughn or Molly Vaughn, the true love of the shooter, I know how shocking that a traditional Irish folk song can be about such a tragic event. The singer on the video is called “Sive” but I kinda like her given name of Sadhbh O’Sullivan, and she has a haunting beautiful voice, I wished she focused on Trad or Seanos because she would be absolutely brilliant at it. The Pandy corporation (the instrumental to the video) experiments musically kinda of the next Alan Parsons which is great if you are into the electro vibe shake and jiggle sort of thing. Give her a look/listen.

So as is my way, a little googling and seems as miss O’Sullivan is quite accomplished and quite at the start of the musical journey. What I found reveals a beautiful voice with a jazz feel and a natural soul, ready to take on the world, the next new Irish star.

It does my heart good to see/hear the next wave attacking the music world, and I’m sure ending up on top.

The other nice thing about checking out new personas is they always have friends who are remarkably talented. In this case Janet Grogan another Dublin native.

watch out world WOW, my only regret is that the main stream music world will end up with these two new Irish voices, my hope is that after they conquer the world they may throw a good Irish folk song in.

New Irish voices

The songs and videos do more justice to their talent than this humble blogger could ever do, so if you  happen to see a marquee with the names O’Sullvan and Grogan, or Sive and Grogan, at some small club or pub somewhere go in and see the next big thing, while they are still undiscovered.




Memorial day wishes for Glen Doherty


Glen Doherty and TY Woods.









Another year has passed and the life of Glen Doherty is still being overlooked.

What do you say about a man who is in Tripoli Libya, hears about the siege of the Benghazi consulate and beelines it to the nearest airstrip to find a plane.

What do you say when this man needs to bribe the pilot $10,000 to fly into Benghazi.

What do you say when this man comes to the aid of another Navy Seal Ty Woods who is under attack by Islamist extremist defending office workers and ambassador on US sovereign soil.

What do you say when Ty Woods and Glen Doherty hold off members of Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militant group.

What do you say when these men evacuate 30 people from the compound.

What do you say when Glen Doherty returns to recover Ambassador Stevens and pays for this effort with his life.

The only thing anyone can say is Thank you for your bravery, Thank You for your love of country, Thank You for showing how a man should be. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I’ll never know if Glen Doherty travelled to Benghazi to aid his friend Ty Woods, if he travelled to save Ambassador Stevens, or if he travelled as a mercenary force of one. But I do know he went, I do know he served, I do know he saved lives, and I do know he perished.

What do you say when your commander and chief mocks you with a fake video story?

What do you say when your president doesn’t send help?

What do you think of the commander and chief who isn’t concerned enough with the situation to even be in the “situation” room with the other in-decision makers. I mean the guy did have to fund raise the next day in Las Vegas you know. I wonder how much money he raised? what are 2 Navy Seals, an Ambassador, and a press agent worth these days?

What do you say to Ty Woods, who gave up his positioning trying to guide the drones to the enemy positions with a laser pointer? Do you tell him the drones were not there to help? Do you tell him they were just there to film their  demise? Do you tell him that the help they requested and assumed was contained in these drones was a bad conclusion to make on his part? Do you tell them they were abandoned by their country? Sadly yes.

So on this Memorial Day this fat happy inhabitant of a once free country pays Homage to Glen Doherty Patriot and Ty Woods Patriot for showing what stuff real men are made of. And instead of some fake cover your ass video lie to get your sorry self reelected president  B.O. appropriate initials for his support of these Americans really stinks, I’ll leave you with a few tributes to the Brave men still left in this country.