Gig Review July 08, 2007 Clonmel, Ireland

The Dubliners in Clonmel, Ireland

08 July 2007

A few days ago, we had Ria's wonderful Vicar Street report, so we thought while telling you about next day's gig in Clonmel, we concentrate a bit more about what happened before and after the gig.

Vicar Street the night before had been a late night. The kettle was boiling, John said to the Dublin audience, but there was no sign of tea and biscuits backstage; it was a drop of the hard stuff, and heaps of family, old friends and friends to be made, to stress an old Irish stereotype. All that, of course, didn't stop them from traveling down to Tipperary (or Tipp, as they might say when in the mood to entertain bystanding fans, or rolling the "r"s in Tipperary for all their worth) the next morn'.

Eamonn had us directed out of Dublin faster than you could say "Dubliners". He knows his way 'round the fair city, that's for sure.

Not that it was a joyful ride. It was raining like there's no tomorrow. Driving at walking speed on Ireland's brand-new six lane motorway, it looked like it would be a long journey. The radio kept the moods at level: It was Gaelic Sports weekend, Gaelic Football and Hurling were on the game plan and fast-talking reporters on the air. There was unison excitement about the Connaught finale which saw Sligo ahead of Galway, beating it by one point only - for the first time in 32 years. 

When the sun cleared through and the rain slacked off finally, motorists were treated to a sight that was so perfectly Ireland that any tourist magazine would reward you with a pot of gold for a nice good shot of the scene: There on Ireland's pride and newest restored and extended motorway, three sheep trotted along. Against driving direction, silent, but stubborn, heads down, on their way to God knows where; nobody seemed to have told them that the Dubliners next gig was the opposite way.

The journey led through various towns and cities. Inevitably, almost any of these is related to one of the lads or one of 'em has played there in the past. 

"That's Paddy Reilly's house over there!", Eamonn mentioned at one point, or, driving through Abbeyleix, Patsy pointed out a house:
"That's where Christy Cullen lives. He wrote a song for me, titled Abbeyleix, where my mother was from."

Waiting for a traffic light to turn green, a fellow ran over, risking his life by running in the middle of the streaming traffic, to shake Patsy's hand whom he had recognized sitting in his car from way the other side of the street.


Conversation was nicely flowing. 

"See that venue there? Joe Dolan is going to play there next month."
There was hardly a place they couldn't give you some trivia about.

Passing the Rock of Cashel, the lads remembered the million Euro advertising campaign of a local bank that wanted to emphasize how safe and sound it is by inventing the line "As sound as the Rock of Cashel", only to find out days after the campaign started that Cashel was pretty ramshackled and anything but sound.

Nearing Clonmel, where the band was going to launch the Clonmel Junction Festival, the rain was back. No, correction: The floods were back. Staying put to their hotel rooms, they waited for the OK. The venue they were going to play, Devane's, was open air tonight, directly at the banks of the river. And there was nobody around to sing "River Stay 'Way From My Door" as the water level rose and rose. But that OK came, finally.

With great relief but a delay of an hour, the Dubliners took the stage in front of a courageous audience who obviously could not be stopped from a little deluge to see the show. The sky was cloudy, the air was too as there was a BBQ set up and you could get ribs and sausages and other delicious smelling stuff while enjoying the music. 

Announced as the "hardest working band in showbusiness" by Brian Hand, they plunged straight into Fermoy Lassies and Sporting Paddy, all smiles on their faces - possibly also from the appetizing BBQ scent that was everywhere. Seán followed with The Banks Of The Roses and then Patsy took the spotlight, applauding "the brave audience". Those folks definitely were brave, as it was cold and drizzling throughout good parts of the gig, which proceeded with The Ferryman. There was a lone cry "Horraaay", when Patsy mentioned Dublin In The Rare Auld Times, which made him quip, "Thank you, I'll buy you a drink later!" 

Due to the delay, and due to the fact that it was rather uncertain if the weather would at least stay as it was for a longer period of time, there was a shortened program and no intermission. The boys on stage got a little jealous when people walked by with Hot Whiskies - at least they pretended to.

Breathtaking fast instrumentals followed upon ballads and vice versa, including Seán performing Kelly The Boy From Killane, interspersed with banter between the band and the audience about the aforementioned Gaelic sports weekend. "If you wanna clap along, you can put the drink up here on the stage!", Patsy mentioned before Paddy Works On The Railway. During The Three Sea Captains/Mullingar Races, people jumped out of their seats and along with the music while Barney, John and Eamonn put on their well-proven show. Then there was Rocky Road To Dublin, of course I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me, Finnegan's Wake. While John played Marino Waltz, an ambitious couple took the miry "dancefloor".

The lads began to thank the audience for coming out and hoping that, by now, they have warmed up a bit, and one knew the end of the gig was nearing. The audience for sure was warmed up, didn't let them go and shouted for requests. They were rewarded, indeed rewarded with something quite unique: John invited Patsy to perform Slievenamon (which would be just 'round the corner from Clonmel, so to speak), and if our archives don't fail us, The Dubliners did that for the very first time ever. So the Clonmel audience was in for a world premiere and a joyful cry from the locals went through the crowd when Patsy sang the first few words. 
(More info and the lyrics can be found in our songbook).

All too soon it was over - they threw in Molly Malone for good measure and then stepped off stage to warm up themselves, signing a myriad of autographs in a tent. 

That wasn't the end of the evening; far from it.

Heading back to the hotel, sometime past midnight, Brian (never tiring tour manager), declared the young night ahead the end-of-the-tour party. That was the first of many more laughs to follow. Come to think of it, the tour only went on for two nights, but that wouldn't bother anyone - after all, any tour needs to be wrapped up with a party, right? 

Long after the doors of the hotel bar have been locked for good, the lads and a handful of friends celebrated the craic, a few lucky bystanders not believing their good fortune to party with the Dubs. Upon request, Patsy delivered a magical version of The Punch And Judy Man that had everybody listening awstruck - the man got a golden voice for sure. Eamonn opened his guitar case one more time and proved without a doubt that he is exactly the genius at the guitar all the critics always say he is. There was no doubt that this man is a highly gifted musician, with a pleasing voice as well, performing a series of great tunes, from Elvis' That's All Right to John R. Cash and Folsom Prison Blues to Kris Kristofferson's Me And Bobby McGee to Dino's Little Ole Wine Drinker Me. 

In the wee small hours, they called it a day (possibly the very day that was dawning right then) and officially put the final seal on a revelry that you can only experience in Ireland. In all honesty, looking back it can be summed up in a few words: Thank God for The Dubliners.

Review and photographs (c) Rare Auld Times Entertainment
All these photographs and more are available in our gallery in bigger size as well!

On a personal note, we have to thank Johnny Cullinane from Cork City, a friend for decades, and irreplaceable during those two days - thank you, Johnny!

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