Floating home from Baltimore

Sean Phair headshot

Posted on: 3rd August, 2017

Category: Music

Contributor: Sean Phair

Sean Phair is a music fan and video professional; he hides behind the moniker Ambiguous Fiddle.

For generations artists have been escaping to West Cork; what starts off as a short break often stretches into something more, with many never fully leaving and as a direct result our lives and culture are all the better for it.

Musicians are no exception, a quick walk through DeBarras Folk Club in Clonakilty serves as all the proof you’ll need. The historic walls are lined with photos of some of the many luminaries that have stopped by over the past 30 years. Icons such as Bowie, Dylan and Donovan are proudly displayed amongst rare memorabilia, including an iconic bass presented by Noel Redding, bass player of Jimi Hendrix fame. Noel lived and played in the area for his last 27 years of his life. Most likely uncoincidentally, during this time many other musicians began to gravitate towards the area. Artist such as Eric bell (Thin Lizzy), Roy Harper and the late John Martyn.

Seminal artist’s such as these have had a profound impact on the region, today you’re almost guaranteed live music every night of the week somewhere in WC. The sessions are frequent and there is a plethora of diverse original music shows also. Hosted weekly between any one of our renowned music venues, which includes DeBarras, Connolly’s of Leap and IMRO award winning venue Levis’ in Ballydehob all within driving distance. West Cork has established itself as an essential stop for any artist touring Ireland.

Last month I was fortunate enough to capture Wallis Bird play in the amphitheatre at Glebe Gardens in Baltimore. Glebe Gardens in my eyes is the epitome of all that is good about West Cork, local sustainable food, in a beautiful location, ran by lovely people. The walk to the amphitheatre is an experience in itself, that has you stroll through pristine gardens, passing goats and poultry and crossing a bridge over a small stream. As you step off the bridge the clearing opens to reveal the round bowl of the amphitheatre. In the background behind the stage you can see Baltimore bay – it’s a magical place.

The show began in traditional West Cork fashion, fifteen minutes late. Wallis’ guitarist Aidan Floatinghome (real stage name) warmed up the crowd with a short and sweet set with much ‘Grá’ for West Cork. He even performed a beautiful song aptly titled ‘West Cork Song’ about time well spent in Sherkin with friends who were in attendance.

“I first discovered West Cork in 2006 when I was touring as a musician with both Jenny Lindfors and Alyanya. We had a show at the Sherkin Island Festival in the marquee at the Jolly Roger. We had a couple of days off around that show, so we stayed on the island for the weekend. We had the best time, and i have been back several times since – in fact, in 2008, I looked into renting a house there for the winter months!

After the festival, we had another day off before the next show, so Jenny suggested we spend the night with her close friends, Stuart Wilde and Laetitia Catalano, living nearby. We went out to them, still glowing from our island days, and fell in love again!”

When Aidan finished, Wallis performed a few by herself, later joined by the band. The sound and performance were stellar but the crowd’s energy was low, maybe it was the lack of wine or maybe the setting was a little too peaceful. It didn’t really matter, either way I would have still gone home entirely satisfied.

But halfway through the set just as it began to get dark. it was like somebody flipped a switch and the crowd just erupted. In the space of two songs Wallis had everyone up on their feet – dancing and revelling.

Feeding off the crowd’s energy, Wallis began to belt out her rockier numbers, keeping her stage tech busy, as she shattered string after string. The setlist was thrown into the wind and Wallis began to sneak in some of her favourite covers underneath the stars…she played until she ran out of songs…it was nothing short of magic. I left Glebe Gardens absolutely buzzing and floated all the way home!

The gig was part of an annual series of summer concerts in the amphitheatre, still to come this year is The Hot House Flowers (Aug 21) and Lisa Hannigan (August 6). Although any artist would be lucky enough to play Glebe, it tends to draw acts that are already tethered to the region.

Liam O’Maonlai and the Hot House Flowers have road-tested nearly every record since the 90s in West Cork. Whereas Hannigan’s  latest record ‘At Swim’ is largely based on summer holidays spent in Baltimore as a child; her show in Glebe will mark the first time any of these songs will be returning to the salty air that formed them…and may very well see this drifter floating home once more.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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7th September, 2017  ·  

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