THE BANDON GIG
There we were, looking at one another in mild disbelief. 07:45 in Heuston Station. On a Saturday morning??? Are we mad or wha??? Mad or not we boarded the train and off we went to Cork, from where a coach took us to Bandon. Blue sky above, lovely West Cork scenery…hey! isn’t it good to be out of Dublin!!
Arriving in Bandon we pulled in to the lovely little square below the Church of Ireland where the Saturday market was in full swing, to be greeted by the Lady Mayor and a brass band: hey…this is not what we’re used to…. Turns out the band was over from France to participate in Cork’s Rebel Week festivities and the Mayor was there to welcome all and sundry (and yes, that included us…). The French band was wonderful, with two of those magnificent wrap-around-the-body Sousaphones (why don’t Irish Brass Bands have these??), and they played a couple of rattling good tunes, to which we replied with our rendition of Siyahamba, to great applause from the assembled throng. We continued with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and then the band surprised us with their arrangement of the same song, to which, of course, we sang along, eliciting even more applause from all present: hey! we even applauded ourselves, it was so damn good! Definitely another first: accompanied by a brass band…. After a while spent sampling the market’s local delights (which included crepes that come with a complimentary Seamus Heaney poem), we climbed the steep steps to the church where we were to perform.
The concert went wonderfully and was greatly enjoyed (yes: Dolce always delivers the goods…) by a very full house. We sang a wide selection of music, from Hungarian folk-songs to New York New York, with very-well-received solos of Bright Blue Rose and She Moved through the Fair from Lesley O’Neill and Paula Curry, respectfully. Local choir Glaslinn also performed three pieces, including Billy Joel’s gorgeous Lullaby. Finally, both choirs combined to sing our county anthems, Molly Malone and The Banks of my own Lovely Lee, with appropriate audience participation. The event raised a very tidy sum for the church’s Restoration Fund.
After the concert we joined Glaslinn for lunch in a local restaurant, following which we watched some splendid Set Dancing in the Main Street and performed once more before boarding the coach to return to Cork which, we discovered, was en fete, with quite a fleet of naval vessels in the port. Some of our group had to head back to Dublin on the train; the rest of us checked in to the splendid River Lee Hotel.
We reassembled later for dinner in the Amicus restaurant close to Patrick’s Street for a fine meal and lots of chat: it was lovely getting to know one another a bit better. Caroline sussed out from the restaurant staff where to head for some action so, led by The Usual Suspects, a sizeable contingent set off in search of whatever Cork might have to offer by way of fun. Quite a lot, as it happened. A cluster of bars around the GPO on Oliver Plunkett St had good live bands. We chose one, installed ourselves, and had a great time until the band finished. No problem. Around the corner to another (with even better music) went The Hard Core, who bopped for another hour or more.
Some were a bit brighter than others the next morning at breakfast. Understandably, I suppose. All agreed, however that it was a great trip, a most enjoyable gig.
When’s the next one?