“For an Irishman, talking is a dance.”
Eight months from now—after this winter has passed, and the spring, and most of the summer—I’ll be arriving in Ireland with twenty fans, family and friends to take a very special tour. Spaces remain in our group, and if you’ve ever longed to visit that unique country, I’d love for you to join us. Ours will be an extraordinary visit—a backroads musical tour of a side of Ireland most tourists never see.
I first set foot in Ireland while touring with Nanci Griffith in 1991, and I’ve returned five times since. Enchanted is word worn thin with overuse describing that green and rocky place, but it’s worn for good reason. As Disneyland is a wonder for children, Ireland is a wonder for those of us drawn to beauty, soul, spirit, music and poetry—and for many of us, a heightened sense of where we come from: directly or indirectly—artistically or spiritually.
“I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society, except that which makes the road safer, the beer stronger, the old men and women warmer in the winter, and happier in the summer.” —Brendan Behan
When I am in Ireland I have the greatest feeling of being welcomed, appreciated—even understood. I’ve wondered if there is some kinship between Southerners and the Irish, in that both regions have endured hardship with good humor and a depth of spirit. But others, from elsewhere in our country and in the world, often say the same thing. Going to Ireland feels like going home.
“People live in each others shelter.”
We’ll travel in a luxury coach along the spectacular west coast, exploring Counties Cork, Clare and Kerry, and we’ll stop for walks, castle ruins, stone circles and dolmans, small town shopping and pub lunches. I’ll have my guitar handy and from time to time will play a song or two upon request—and I’ll perform a concert one evening as well. Other nights we’ll hear some of Ireland’s finest musicians and songwriters—something I especially look forward to.
“Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.”
Our Irish tour guide will be Tom Pigott with Enchanted Way Tours. Tom has led a number of tours for my good friend Johnsmith, and he is leading tours with my New Agrarians partner Kate Campbell and other artist peers. This will be my first tour with Tom, and I’m very grateful for his invitation.
“This is what home is: not only the place you remember, but the place that remembers you.”
—Oriah Mountain Dreamer
For complete info on the trip click here.
“My Irish Friend”
(A short essay I wrote after my last trip to Ireland in the fall of 2009)
My last day on Inishere, a starkly beautiful island off the west coast of Ireland, I missed the early ferry back to the mainland. Alarm, however, soon yielded to the awareness that I now had a free day on the island! Soon I was wandering among the ruins of a 10th Century church, being soaked by a squall on a stony beach, and wandering narrow lanes between pastures of Irish dairy cows. And it was on one of those lanes that I was greeted by a wind-burned farmer on a tractor.
“What you doing out here?” he asked in an accent so thick that at first I didn’t realize he was speaking English.
“Just walking, exploring,” I replied.
“Have you seen the wreck?” he asked. And when I said I hadn’t, he patted the seat beside him and called, “Climb on!”
I did, and we were off to explore a fifty year old shipwreck, visit the old lighthouse and survey the island as he gave me a finer tour than money could ever buy.
In the midst of it all, Martin—my new friend—insisted we visit his hillside home, a whitewashed cottage he’d built himself that offered a spectacular view of the sea on three sides—including the wrecked freighter on the beach and the Cliffs of Mohr across the way. While there he served hot black tea, fresh brown bread he’d baked himself, and just-caught boiled crab. A feast! I was starving, and it was all the more delicious for being prepared by my friend’s hand.
Martin’s kindness was in itself food for my soul. In his company, it seemed the world was full of kind and generous people—people who appear out of nowhere, take you in, feed you, and point you in the right direction.
“Come again!” he called, as he dropped me by a tiny lane leading to a castle ruin. “Come again!” And he waved as he pulled away.
I watched the tractor round the hillside.
Come again, he’d said. And I will. I will.