LAUGHING BADGER Serendipity led me to festival...
AFTER my recent piece on Ireland, a number of readers have asked about the connection between the little village of Kinvara, Co. Galway, and Glossop’s Rugby Club, and indeed my Irish Band the Curragh Sons; but more importantly they want to know, how can they get some of the action, to include music, Guinness, oysters, rugby, and of course, the wildlife of the west coast, and not necessarily in that order.
There is no mystery involved, just a large helping of serendipity, a happy accident which saw me pull up on the quayside 19 years ago to read a poster advertising the world famous Cuckoo Fleadh Irish music festival, and that was that, we’ve been going back ever since.
The band has played more than 100 gigs, and I have dragged the Rugby Club along five or six times on joint tours, each one more memorable than the last.
We’ve been called Glossop’s finest ambassadors, and often praised by the locals for being good fun and a credit to our town; one year there were seven in the band, 40 from the rugby club and another 30 assorted Glossopians, it’s a twinning by osmosis.
In recent years, a senator from Oregon, and chairman of the Republican party said: “These fellas are the best!” referring to the lads dressed in nautical outfits, including Captain Birdseye, King Poseidon and a giant lobster, while on the same trip, the original Donovan from the Swinging 60s said: “Sean, you’re all gentlemen from Glossop, and the music is cool”.
Other tour themes have included Harry Potter, Two Hats and Jimmy Finnegan’s Eyebrows (don’t ask). The whole weekend a guy dressed as a cuckoo joins in the fun, and even came on stage one night with us, but his vocabulary was limited.
The truth is that, on Cuckoo Fleadh weekend, Salvador Dali meets David Attenborough on Galway Bay and I would not swap it for the world. I nipped ● into the festival last weekend, no band or rugby club but when in Ireland you can’t really fail to go. All efforts to reach the Wild West are soon rewarded, so here’s your very own Woody’s Guide, how to get there, where to stay and what to see; you probably won’t be as lucky as the reader who visited Kinvara with one of my articles in his pocket, because he met and married an Irish millionairess but whatever your experiences let us all know about it on your return.
As for wildlife, you never know what is going to turn up, especially out to sea, with minke whales, bottlenose dolphins and countless species of seabird, while inland and onshore my favourites to date include the pine marten and gentian violets on the nearby Burren, 100 brent geese, and hares running down the middle of the greenest boreens (tiny lanes) and the peregrine falcon which flew alongside, at eye level, as I drove along the coast road.
“Go on you beauty!” I shouted as she peeled off to strafe an anxious curlew.
Ryanair fly to Dublin and Shannon, and Kinvara is around three hours’ drive, while it is only an hour from Shannon. Car hire is very reasonable.
Stena Line from Holyhead to Dublin Port in three hours and a further three-hour drive across Ireland.
I wouldn’t want to be too prescriptive for your trip, because, to be sure you’ll find your own little bit of West Coast Heaven, and the ‘craic’ as they say will be mighty, but for the first few days check out www.kinvara.com for where to stay and more.
For further information and a personal itinerary give me a shout at sean. email@example.com.
Sean Wood attending the Cuckoo Fleadh Irish music festival