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Bye Fleadh

After a lovely breakfast at Maria’s sister’s place we settled in at Moroney’s where earlier this week some great sessions where going on. The bar was still virtually empty so there was enough space for some music.

A few minutes after we started the bar was filled up and a lot of musicians had joined us. Some of our new friends joined in; André of course, but also John Whelan from Ennis, Katy McLoughlin from Australia, Sergio and Nicolai from Argentina. Taking turns we stepped outside now and then for some fresh air or a bite, the picture above is a popup chipshop that someone made in his garage, which also served as shelter from the rain.

The session was mighty until people started to join in who could not play very well. Of course there should be a place for everyone at a session, the learning process is important! But when one after the other off-key or jittery tune is played, the fun quickly dissolves for both musicians and audience. Unfortunately we could not turn the situation around anymore so we decided to pack up.

Ennis was full. ‘Packed’ was the word you heard on every corner. The constant drizzle also helped to convince people to get into the nearest available pub quickly. There was no way any pub could fit another soul. Let alone another musician.

The liberating textmessage came just in time, we were invited to play some tunes at the Treacy West County hotel, the base of operations for many Fleadh participants.

We ended up in a fully packed hotel lobby where all the young music champions sat shoulder to shoulder playing tunes. A warm bath full of new tunes for outsiders like us. They made some room for us and there we sat playing tunes amidst the winners (and losers).

Again I noticed how the youth uses music almost like a sort of social media app on their phones. They play a few notes of the tune, stop to talk to their friends for a bit and then play a few more notes. Technically they are very good, but they play with a lack of interest or feeling. It comes across as if they are more interested in where they end in the competition than in the music itself. The result is a halfasses, weak sound without much life or energy.

We decided to go and have a goodbeye-pint in the center of Ennis. We said goodbye to Sergio and Nicolai and the other musicians and headed for town again.

All trad music was gone. Hardly any proper Irish folk in the pubs, mostly Karaoke and disco. The streets where littered with plastic pint glasses and drunken people.

Next time I’m going to visit a smaller trad festival which is more aimed at sessions and gigs, like Feakle, since here in Ennis Fleadh, those steaming sessions that start in the morning and end late at night are non existent.

We decided it was over and went to bed.

It’s been a great week, we’ve gained a heap of new friends, experiences and tunes and are now traveling back to Dublin with content hearts. Tonight we can jump into our own comfy beds again.

The fleadh is over for us now, but the tunes will probably be bouncing around in our heads for quite a while longer.