Words and storytelling were an unexpected thread running through a weekend of intense festivaling that kicked off in Kilkenny, where Cat Laughs threw an epic 20th birthday bash. This was a marathon of mirth with 21 comedians squashed into a three-and-a-half hour show.
More than 1,300 people sold out The Hub at Cillín Hill; it was reminiscent of livestock marts also held in the large space. Possibly the only venue in the country that smells strongly of cow-shite and Jeyes Fluid, but there’s worse kinds of shite and it proved to be a wonderful night.
Tommy Tiernan tore it apart and stole the show with some intense and painfully funny storytelling, scrying deeply into the Irish psyche with his black mirror. Tommy is capable of verbal chicanery worthy of a seat in the Rose Dome in August – “Ye should have seen her lads, she was gorgeous. She’d make the sausages stand upright in the pan.” Imagine Tommy presenting the Rose of Tralee!? Somebody sort that shit out.
At Forbidden Fruit, Public Enemy dropped lyrical bombs. Chuck D reciting passages from the old-skool testament, striking occasional resonances in 21st-century Dublin. Flavor Flav provided light relief, interjecting and chirping away like a hip-hop version of “The Bird” O’Donnell.
After the gig, the lads extended an invitation to go on the lash in town, but I couldn’t follow. Four days festivalling had taken a toll; just the day before I’d gone for ‘a pint’ in Listowel at lunchtime, only to realise that if you dip your toes in the water of a Listowel pub, they’ll grab you by the leg and pull you right in, whether you’ve brought your togs on or not.
The stories thrown up by a night on the tear with Public Enemy would be the stuff of legend, but being part of a session in the back of John B Keane’s pub, listening to songs you’ve known most of your life, sung by the people who wrote them, felt special. Anyway, Chuck D seemed kinda cranky and nobody in Listowel gave a hoot about what time it was.
Safe travels, don’t die.