Sorry we’re late but we never put this one up!

A Chairde,

Sorry this is a bit late but we are very busy at the moment!
After Mr Dooleys in downtown Boston, it was time to relocate again as our remaining gigs were in the South Boston area so we spent the day packing our stuff and loading it into the car of the one and only Meghan Sowsun. Meghan had made the journey of nine hours to see us the previous night with her friend Bree Springthorpe from Oakville Toronto. We first met Meghan in May when she was holidaying in Ireland with her parents and we have kept regularly ever since. So as she and Bree moved our gear to Quincy we boarded the T (the Boston version of the dart/subway) and set out for our hotel. That night we played a gig in The Twelve Pins and it was great to see some familiar faces from our previous gigs in Boston. We also had a group who traveled four hours to see us after meeting Lee in Bobs Bar during the summer. We also met up with a few Laois lads that John and I would have played hurling with and against throughout the years with club and county. Fran Keenan, Ciaran Moore whom I have to congratulate on his engagement and of course the bold Terry Doran. Camross is well represented. Meghan and Bree were late for the gig after falling asleep after all their hard work from helping us during the day but at least they made it in time for us to depart up to Fran’s house to watch Ireland vs. Wales in the rugby world cup quarter final. This match was a great one to watch with some great Welsh defending and it was that defence that ensured we stayed out from their linen and got beaten. Disappointed we went home…

Saturday night we played in Paddy Berry’s of Quincy where the gig was packed to the rafters! We met up with some more people from home like the great Larky Conroy from Mountmellick in Laois who has been out in Boston for maybe close thirty years – a true and proud Laois man if ever there was one in Boston. Thanks to Jerry and the staff for treating us very well. Great to see Jennifer Browne and Francesca Infranca making the trip from New York to see us! Also Danielle Mayzes was there at our gigs on Saturday and Sunday. We had an early night by our standards as we prepared ourselves for the Dorchester gig next day. Brian arrived for us early and after our customary Dunkin Donuts breakfast it was all systems go and we made our way to Dorchester. Even the Dorchester cops knew Brian at this stage. All he said to the numerous cops directing traffic was his trademark saying in his Boston accent – “I’m with the band!!!” as they waved him on into restricted access areas in order to get us nearer to the stage area. The day was beautiful and with a large crowd present it was important for us to get it right – and by the crowd’s reaction I think we did. There is a big Irish and Irish American population in this area and it was great to feel the pride of place and of Ireland throughout the day. These people have a great community and national spirit for all to see. We had to leave the festival as we had another gig in the Clash of the Ash pub in Quincy that night. A big crowd came in the doors which included a lot of the hurling team that John played for when he was out in Boston – and we had a right night here let me tell you. It was great to meet up with lads I had met years previous on a trip to see John. Total headers like Peter Nolan, Brian “The Crow” Dalton, Dominic McGill, John Joe O Neill, Jigger, Denis Brennan and Seanie Gallagher. These men are legends in Boston and that will never change!! With heavy hearts and an even heavier heads we left Boston early the next morning. Many thanks must go to Brian Bailey for all of his help and also Pat.

We spent Monday in transit and with a four hour wait for connecting flights at JFK airport New York it was a long day before we finally arrived in Las Vegas at about 11 pm local time. We were graciously met at the airport by Cyril Kenny and Paula Quigley. After bringing us to our apartment they brought us to Ri-Ra the Irish pub in the Mandalay Bay hotel to get a feel for the place. All seemed to be good so we passed the night with a great contingent of Irish staff as the showed us the ropes and Hooters!! Vegas is a place like no other and although I have visited twice before one is still amazed at its grandeur and splendour. The next nights gigs in Vegas were a great success and the tables worked out for us at times too! We met many friends like the aforementioned Cyril and Paula but also Vanessa McDonagh, Aimee Dwyer, and Bernice Naughton to name but a few. Melissa Hockin was another friend we met on this leg of the trip. Niki Dee and her friends drove from Arizona to be with us which was brilliant. This is really an amazing trip.

I hope you enjoyed catching up on the gallery we are having and the wonderful experiences here in the USA.

Is mise le meas

Damian Walsh

Advertisements

“Tús maith leath na hoibre”

Dia dhaoibh ó Florida,

“Tús maith leath na hoibre”

Ni folair dom a rá go bhfuilimid an sasta ar fad anseo san stáit aontaithe!

A big welcome to any new people who are reading these blogs!

It is just coming up to 3 in the morning as I gather my thoughts together on the past week and a half. So much has happened to us and we have met so many people I hope I do not leave out some important incidents or some people as I try to classify credit and edit.  As the seanfhocal (Irish saying) above translates a good start is half the work so here it goes!

After Kansas Irish fest it is fair to state that we would have loved to stick around after our performance and socialise but we had a sound check to do in our new port of call Raglan Road Irish pub and restaurant in Downtown Disney, Florida the following day at 9 a.m.  We made our way from the hotel to the airport with Gretchen Ryan once more and low and behold we had a plane journey without drama as John gave his passport to me to mind (me being the older brother and the responsible one I duly obliged!!) We arrived back to the “gaff” at bout 4 in the morning.

Next morning our sound check went off without hitch as our engineer Jason is a sound man!! Even though we only got a few hours sleep, we spent the afternoon organising our car with the help of Lorraine from Raglan Road and then time for a quick paddle…yes paddle (!!!) in the pool before we left for our gig. Raglan Road is a fantastic example of a big Irish pub with top quality food and drink and is very popular amongst the people who frequent Downtown Disney. We soon got to understand why. As we settled down for dinner we met up with Bill and Charlie from Friday night previous and they wished us the best of luck.  As the dinner was being eaten there was very little talk as we all agreed the food was up with the best we ever had! We get dinner there each day and its consistency, staff hospitality and presentation is brilliant.

Our show here is divided into four parts and three of the four segments include a dance piece. It is true that the gig itself is different to what we have been doing in Ireland. Firstly it is a longer show than what we are used to. It is four hours here compared to two at home. It was a worry at the start as to our voice strength after all these hours per week but thank God so far our voices and energy levels have held up. Secondly it is different due to the fact that probably half of the crowd in front of us are eating as we play. This does not stop them from getting involved though and it really is a brilliant gig to do. The local Irish dancing school sent in their talented dancers as the regular ones are on holidays. We met up with Courtney, Sierra, Christie and Danielle. I must say Irish culture is alive and well here in Orlando with their enthusiasm and skills for all to see.

We are delighted to note that, as our shows go on people who come to our shows do come back again. I have to acknowledge Don Campion (our local barman in Don Egan’s pub, Kilkenny) and his crew who we met out here, Rob and Heather Robertson, Katie, Dawn Rancourt, Sionnainn Crevoisarat Woodword and family, and Erin Trumble and her mother and friends who all made long journeys to see our shows. The regulars like the aforementioned Bill and Charlie, Suzie Niziol, Margaret Ryan and all her crew from the Orlando. Jessica Correll and all the staff of Raglan Road have been really friendly and helpful to us also. We really are meeting some new friends out here. Two of our treasured friends from this past week have been Debbie and Amy Josland from England. We had some laugh- Debs and Amy the coolest mother and daughter combination since Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson!!! I know there are many more people that we have met but lads and lassies you know who ye are and thanks from Na Fianna.

I must say that our manager Darren Farrell has got it spot on in organising our living quarters out here. Wow! It was far from this that we were reared! It has four bedrooms with a massive kitchen/ living area and another sitting room type room where we practice. We are trying to continue improving so this “music room” is where we rehearse and try out new songs and tunes. Already we have amassed about ten new songs and five or so pieces of traditional music since we have arrived. We are just beginning to write some new material too which is exciting to say the least. Ross mentioned it last week in the blog but it has to be said the pool and tennis court are standing to us! Tennis games are getting quite competitive and somewhat noisy as Ross “Monica Seles” Hennessy keeps improving. Our pad has a private pool where our own Adrian Thorpe of the band swims up and down the ten metres. I will leave that up to you to decipher but its not Ross, Lee or myself. Lee is busy catching the rays! I walked into his room yesterday as he was rubbing something into his skin. When I asked what it was I was told it is a new body wash. The bottle read “St Tropez”….. Whatever that is!!!  Can anybody shed some light on that one???!!!

Now it is not all work over here you know. On Sunday we had a day off so we chanced a visit to Hollywood Studios and Epcot parks here. They were very good as we did roller coasters and looked around. My favourite park of the two was in Epcot where we relaxed for a while in World Showcase at the end of the day. This is a central area of restaurants and bars themed to different countries and you really do think you are in that country while in that area. For example one can go for dinner in Italy and go for a drink in England!  The fireworks show at the end was the highlight though. Amazing- certainly the best I have ever witnessed! That night we got to sample Downtown Disney on our first night off as we ended up in a cool spot called House of Blues! Then it was back to work again the next day and even if the heads were still a bit heavy it did not deter us from a performance to the best of our ability.

Right so everyone until next time mind yourselves and be happy in whatever part of the globe this reaches you in.

Is mise le meas,

Damian Breathnach

Damian Walsh

T-shirt lost, if found please return to Damian!

Friday was a very busy day for us. We dragged ourselves out of bed at the early hour of nine o clock (!!!!) and prepared ourselves to go to Dublin as we were playing at Dolphin Discs Talbot Street Dublin. It was just unlucky that when we got up the weather had changed to showers. We decided to return the next day for more at lunchtime and set off for Citywest on the outskirts of the city. A quick sound check and a bite to eat and we were happy and rearing to go. The gig was for the Eurypaa Conference. People had arrived for this long weekend of activities and meetings from various parts of the world including Ireland. We met and were talking to lots of people from the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K. and other parts of Europe. Big thanks to Niamh Elliot and all the organisers. 

Dolphin Discs on Saturday was great craic. The weather was good and the people who stopped to listen seemed really happy to sing along and dance. We met up with a man called Sean O’ Connor and his wife and family. They played along with us for a while before telling us about their band- Lava.  They kindly gave us a copy of one of their albums and I certainly can recommend it as it’s been playing in my car for the last week. That night was The Cedar in Mountrath for Eoin Hogans 21st party. What a nice family and Eoin was in particularly good form!! Lee ate half his body weight in sausages as Ross and John made a fair stab at cleaning out the sandwiches. Eoin kindly gave us a drink to wash down all the food too! “Happy days” as our manager Darren never says….!!!! 

We had a very busy Sunday indeed with Egan’s and Dinn Rí in Carlow. It was great to be back in Carlow again. It was part of the Fleadh over there and we always love playing in Cedar Square. At the end of the day it is fair to state that after putting in our best efforts on stage we were glad to see our beds!! 

One of the great nights of the week is our Monday Madness session in Egans. Once again a large crowd turned up and as we started we noticed that Sean O’ Connor and family were in Egans. Straight away it had the hallmarks of a great night as we began with a few tunes. All singers like Lava, Tracey O Sullivan, Karen and Aishling Farrell, PJ Norton, Davy Holohan, Paddy Ryan, Razzer  and the dancers, Joanne and Marie Kelly on the night were given a free t-shirt compliments of the proprietor Don Egan which we all thought was a nice touch.  Only problem for me was that my t-shirt got misplaced in a late night establishment after the gig!! Oh well it was well worth it and a great “after session” session was held in our apartment which we do apologise for the noise coming from the apartment but never the fun we were having lol!! 

It was Paris Texas gig where we met up with a lovely couple for the first time all the way from Co. Meath- Tommy and Bernie Sherlock. We also got a visit from four Dublin hurlers who got knocked out of the hurling championship two days previous. They were Ryan O’ Dwyer, David Curtain, Shane Ryan and Simon Lambert. John would have hurled with Ryan in Boston a few years back. When I met him out there when visiting John I knew he was a head the ball and he has not changed thank god. The moves were ridiculously funny and the striptease act polished. He even got Flor Hennessy up for a twirl and a dance off ensued. Flor the old pro from his showbands days wiped the floor with him!! Good to see an old friend from my teacher training days, David Curtain too. It’s been too long and a reunion was well over due! Another sound lunatic. Shane “Marbles” Ryan and Simon certainly left an impression in Mizzoni Pizza after the gig- rumour has it they ate two 16” pizzas each and a bag of chips!! 

Congratulations to all leaving certs on your results! We played Kytlers Wednesday night and sure enough our two academics from Meath were in the crowd once more so we must have done something right the night previous! A nice gig in the courtyard was just the ticket and a big shout out to the crowd from Armagh and Louth who seemed to have a ball! Then Thirsty Thursday was back around again. Massive crowd once more and a great buzz around the town. Great to see Micheal Kenny and his friends in celebrating their results. Some moves on him. Very John Travolta-esque!!!   

Once more big thanks to Laura and Sharon powerful work as merchandise managers!!Roll on another week as the 2 month tour comes closer. So much to look forward to.  Friends to meet- new and old- it certainly is exciting times for us four lads!

Talk to you in four weeks!

Damian Walsh

The Fast And The Furious Kilkenny Drift

With the weeks passing us by and a lot to look forward to last weekend was very busy for us. Although our Irish summer did not surface last weekend there is no denying that we were all in great form leaving Taghmon after an early gig at the fabulous Taghmon/Camross Gaa club. We were really impressed by the facilities for a rural parish and it really shows what a Gaa community can do given the right people within a club and obvious hard work and time. Being a day time gig it had a family feel about it which was very nice. We played songs to a lot of children on the dance floor and we had a major dance off between boys and girls for the best dancers. They each got a Na Fianna cd so even though I forget your names congratulations again and keep it up!

As Lee and Ross drove like Fast and the Furious Kilkenny Drift Ford Focus style, the jokes from our sound man Mick “Shake n Vac” Jones were flying by as John tried to keep the van on the road. (If you ever get to meet him or know him ask for the penguin and the car)

The family run pub called the Salmon Pool, Thomastown and Darren O Hanrahan’s party was our next venue. The two lads, Martin and Ger, have been long time supporters of Na Fianna and its one of those venues where we always love playing as it is full of characters. We knew that this gig was going to be a big one- how wrong we were- it was massive!! From the off we were chatting to Lee’s cousin and her friends when one of them took a liking to flowers on the window sill outside. She decided to pick one and the whole pot came tumbling down!! Ger was not impressed with the damage but we tried to reassure him his flower arranging course had paid dividends and he was back to his usual self in seconds. We arrived earlier than normal to set up and even then the crowd had started to gather. Martin Walsh had a busy night even though Ger was annoyed with the girls disrupting his beautiful flower arranging he worked hard too! Congratulations to Darren on his 21st birthday.

Tired as the lads and I were, it was an early start on Sunday morning as we departed for Mahon Point Shopping Centre for a P.A. outside Golden Discs. We quickly had all ready and got straight into the action with a few songs before a stop to sign and chat to people who so kindly had taken time to buy our CD or/and DVD. It was at this point that Jemma Hurley’s brother, Paul, introduced himself to us. Jemma and ourselves have known each other since March 2008 when Mick Fitz Patrick invited us to London playing on St Patrick’s weekend. John and I spent a weekend in London in November with her and Mick looking after us brilliantly. Also an familiar but unexpected visitor to us was our cousin Joey Mc Grath and his two children. Always good to listen and chat to the Big Lad!!

From here in on the outskirts of Cork city we drove up to Athy Co. Kildare to play in the C.I. Bar. The gig itself was packed and my old teaching colleagues turned up to sing and dance the night away. Congrats to Brona Redmond on her wedding from the band but the night was full of surprises notably Aonghus Corry going home before 2 am and also the engagement of Margaret and Shane after Shane disclosed they were engaged for the laugh!! Funny thing is it’s only a matter of time as we all know – smashing couple.

Our first gig in Paris Texas Kilkenny went very well indeed. We played some requests for songs that we had not played in a while and the atmosphere was really nice amongst it all. We will be playing there every Tuesday until we go on our tour in the states. We missed Sharon, Laura and the girls but Beata and Gabby kept it on the road!! They were back for Lanigan’s Kilkenny on Thursday though and belted out the tunes all night. This gig was really something. The place was full and one girl stole our heatrs away. Her name is Mia and she is on holidays with her mam from California. I was introduced to her by Laura at half time and she told me all about her irish dancing. Well she got up on about five occasions as we played jig, reels and songs to show us her talent. Well to say she got the biggest of cheers and applause at the end of the night is an understatement – and rightly so! Watch out for her. I did not get her surname but I do remember she was in Claddagh Irish Dancing School in California.

So we Na Fianna boys got talking over the past few days about having a few intimate nights together with old friends and new – a sort of summer gathering of musicians, singers and storytellers in a relaxed way some night we are off. We have decided that Monday night in Egans pub Kilkenny is going to be the venue. It’s an old fashioned session unplugged so to speak, where all are welcome to contribute a song, play along or tell a story or poem. Personally I cant wait for this as it is going back to our roots as musicians and singers. We will hopefully pick up a few tips from others and maybe a new song even. We are also going to try out new songs and “sure see how they go”. This venue has been chosen as the proprietor Don Egan has been a very good friend of ours for the duration of our musical careers. It is really where it all began. We will be there for a few pints and a bit of craic!! Next weekend Germany:

Wir sind sehr gespannt!

Damian Walsh

 

 

 

 

PS: Pop over to the Press section of our website to read my ‘Under the Spotlight’ interview which was featured in the Offaly Topic recently. Many thanks to Louise Coghlan and the Topic.