The title is misleading because I’ve only been to a few pubs in Ireland, first to Knox’s Pub in Ennis, County Clare for Trad night. They advertise that they have traditional Irish music on Wednesday’s, so we went in, ordered a bowl of soup and a half pint of Guinness and stayed for a few tunes.
We realized that after a few days in Ireland that we were more at home in tea rooms than pubs, although John Benny’s pub in Dingle has good food and a nice atmosphere. We enjoyed their mussels in wine sauce and mushroom risotto and again shared a half pint of Guinness. I’ll write more about how we ended up there in our review of Dingle.
Our best experience in Ireland was an evening at Crowley’s Pub in Kenmare, County Kerry. It was nearing the end of our first visit to Ireland and although we had been to a great concert in Ennis that featured The Fiddle Case and Luka Bloom, we felt we hadn’t gotten our fill of traditional Irish music. I checked out what was happening in Kenmare for our last few days and found that we had missed a music fest at Crowley’s Pub that featured Mary Donegan. I was able to contact Mary and she was kind enough to let us know that she would be at Crowley’s on Wednesday.
We had quite an adventure that day driving from Kenmare around the Ring of Kerry and on to Dingle, so by 8pm we were tired, but didn’t want to miss Trad Night with Mary at Crowley’s Pub. We arrived just as they were tuning up and we managed to find two stools to perch. I went to the bar and ordered an Irish coffee and the bar tender kindly informed me that they didn’t serve that kind of drink. I fell back on my usual half pint of Guinness and watched as the bartender carefully pulled drafts, let them settle and then filled to the top.
We were the only ones wearing masks at that time and felt awkward, but we had already pushed our luck quite a bit and it was a tight space. We chatted with a couple visiting from Denver CO. They had already covered a lot of territory, starting in Dublin and were going to the Ring of Kerry in the morning, so we were able to nab their seats on the bench close to the musicians.
At that point, Mary looked up and said “Oh, you must be Deidre and was so warm and welcoming, we started to feel at home. After we moved in, we encouraged the two ladies standing to take our stools. They were from Brittainy and didn’t speak much English. I mentioned to the gentlemen playing the guitar that there were visitors from Brittainy and he said that they were Celts as well. We were asked if we’d like to sing, but those of you that know us would say we did well to decline. We did a lot of foot tapping and almost joined in for Sweet Baby James sung beautifully by Maureen Sullivan.
We were completely captivated by Mary’s playing of the tin whistle. There were many that filled my heart with gladness. Here is one by John Dwyer, called the Sunny Hills of Beara. I think she also tacked on Fox in the Patch.
(Update from my new friend Mary, 2nd tune is Fox in the Thatch by late John Dwyer, who by the way is Mary’s cousin. )
Another memorable tune was The Foggy Dew, you may remember a version by the Chieftains.
What made the evening so enjoyable was the camaraderie of the trio and their lighthearted banter. We were also impressed with their humility. We asked the gentleman his name and he would only say, “Don’t mind me”. We did a little research and found that he was indeed the owner of the pub, Peter Crowley.
We can’t wait to visit Kenmare again. Mary, Maureen and Peter, please let us know if you are ever on the West coast of Florida. Till we meet again.