A special place... and a special reason to visit
READERS have been dropping into the gallery recently and asking, in a familiar pattern, are you off to Ireland again this summer, and if you are, does it involve music, wildlife, food and drink, because if so, can you please share the details, as we would love to come?
The answer is in the affirmative on all scores, because that’s what we do, that’s what I write about, although it has to be said that this year the trip is slightly different.
Firstly, Glossop Rugby Club are not coming, and secondly, I am taking my play with songs, ‘The Angel on O’Connell Street’, on the road to Galway, along with some of the best musicians that Glossop has ever produced.
It’s a creative beanfeast centred around the world famous Cruinniú na mBád boat festival in the village of Kinvara. The very place where, for those with the eyes to see, Salvador Dali meets Sir David Attenborough on Galway Bay over a plate of oysters accompanied by a guy dressed as a cuckoo. It’s the very place that looks across the Atlantic and doffs it cap to The Burren, a limestone escarpment of enchantment and a Unesco World Heritage Site, where brown bears once roamed free.
Yes, it’s special, and that’s why for the past 20 years I have taken hundreds of people from Glossop, and beyond, to share the experience. I have even been commended, as has this newspaper, by the Irish Tourist Board, (Failte Ireland) for my efforts in promoting the greenest of lands in my columns, both locally and nationally.
For all those that asked, here is your opportunity. Although I am only arranging the travel and accommodation for the first 20 people on the trip this year, which is already done, the Glossopmassive can be assured that I will give any interested reader all the help they need. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
After performing over one hundred gigs in Kinvara, this year is special on a personal note, not least because I’ve never written a play before, but further because some of the cast also happen to be members of the coolest sound to come out of Glossopdale for many a year. ‘Sounds from the Cellar’ include Paul Higham, India Shan Merrett, Lee Bardsley and Amy Griffiths, as well as one of my twin sons Culain, who is the narrator. The Cellar in question is, of course, the Cellar Bar in the Laughing Badger Gallery.
The play is being performed at the Partington Theatre, Glossop, on Friday, June 2, but is already sold out – even more incentive to travel to the Wild West.
Regular readers will already know about the wildlife. I’ve written many times about the whales and otters and of the gentian violets which bloom each year in the harshest of conditions, protected from the cold Atlantic breeze by little alleys of smoothly carved limestone; each delightful avenue, a micro-climate of great beauty. Throw in the oysters, the Guinness, the music and the people and you may begin to understand why I am so delighted to have an Irish passport - and that was long before Brexit, I can assure you.
All things considered, the humour of Ireland is one of my favourite aspects of the country. The photograph seen above of the late Kevin Sexton of Sexton’s Bar in Kinvara - a man much respected for his prowess as a hurling player in his younger days, and greatly loved by all - represents this perfectly. A true gentleman.
Where else would they, could they, come up with an event called road hurling? Kevin was the obvious choice for the first event ever in Kinvara, and indeed the first ‘puc’ or strike of the ‘sliotar’, the ball, was given to Kevin. An honour he was only too happy to accept, ‘For the craic’, he said to me, as he gave the ball a mighty swipe.
One of Kevin’s daughters Valerie can help with accommodation. Just give her a shout at valerieforkan@hotmail. com and when you are there make sure you call in on her sister Ruth, who now runs the legendary Sexton’s Bar, my spiritual home, twinned with Glossop.
Kevin Sexton playing road hurling
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop