The ‘Railway Bar’ session unfortunately missed by our Oz visitors John and Annette Macan proved one of the best for a long while. We had three visiting sessionists, an excellent bluegrass banjoist from Belfast, another prize-winning banjo player and a singer/guitarist. We also had many ‘student’ sessionists who join us this time of year, among them Rosie Ferguson and a beautiful young fiddler whose face I recognise but whose name I don’t know. We were crowded – up close and personal – and the latter, and her friend had to squeeze past me on the way to the bar. My wife was highly amused at my painfully-obvious attempts to keep my hands to myself each time they passed!
Tommy Fegan was there with his whistle and Ullan pipes. Bernard O’Hanlon played excellent whistle and mouth organ. We had a very talented young male flautist. Terry Conlon led, played the accordion and told the odd story too! Barney, and Patsy Quinn beat the bohrans. Rabbie, Paddy and other regulars were there too and the great music flowed continuously until late.
John Macan wanted to meet the locals. What a chance missed. Banjo, our Everest hero was there, as was Terry McKay and a host of Newry and South Down/South Armagh characters. And our most welcome visitors, this time of year.
We spoke briefly with a friend, an incredible lady who we would see frequently and know to be incredibly kind and concerned for others. But my wife had discovered (from others) a feat of kindness unparalled in my recent experience. Some time ago the grand home of a casual acquaintance accidentally burned to the ground. Our friend forsook her own home to move in temporarily with relatives in order to accommodate this needy family of five. No, the needy family was neither relatives nor close friends, just needy. And no one would have heard of this kindness, except they learned like us by a circuitous route. I apologise to our dear friend if this information is sufficient for some to identify – and thus -embarrass her, for her generosity of spirit is intensely private. No purgatory for this fine lady!
You see now, John Macan, why I tell you I love my people and you ought to have made time to meet a few more of them?! There may have been twenty more wonderful stories in that lounge, for I was acquainted with barely half of those present. Come back soon and meet all of them!