Festival First Day

Hi Dan. It’s good to hear that you’ve been getting into the spirit of the Harvest Festival with singalongs and double ukes. Over here, our 60 hour non-stop musical extravaganza kicked off in great fashion on Friday night.
I was asked to sort of officially open the event with a short presentation of the O’Connell Family Tree to birthday boy Con – before things got silly. This meant that Sue & I ventured out at 8.30pm which was the Festival “start time” on the formal invites. It also meant that we ended up spending an hour in the Cock accompanied by just the English blow-ins. None of the native Irish neighbours head out until “going on 10″. The English always get caught out by this confusing custom.
At about 9.45, clutches of Con’s many cousins starting appearing, along with their families. My drinking partner, old Hughie, out unusually late, came out with the best early line. He was introduced to a cousin called Francis, and then his wife. He instantly replied, “How do you do Francis, and how do you do your wife.” Hughie pretends that he’s a senile old fool, but he knows exactly what he is saying to insult or amuse unfamiliar visitors to the Cock.
The excitement was building when Head of Security, Auld Wobbly Bob, turned up on his bicycle in his hi-viz vest. He was kept busy in the car park, ensuring that visitors’ cars would be blocked in until Monday morning. Wobbly Bob’s bike also acted as the emergency generator for the outdoor stage. A cable from backstage was attached to his rear wheel dynamo.
Tony Marren did a sound and lighting check which lit up the village all the way to the GAA field. Everything was set as shy Con tried to sneak in through the back door of the shop. It was no use – he was spotted – and the old-timers demanded their free drinks. I wondered why Hughie and the old cronies had stayed out beyond their 7pm bedtimes.
I just had enough time to explain my family tree charts to Con, and Con Og, and Anthony Senior, on the pool table in the Games Room – when, right on cue, the haunting sounds of an Eric Clapton guitar solo echoed through the open windows of the bar. It was a miraculously warm and dry evening, so all the effort to erect outdoor facilities paid off big time. Glastonbury eat your heart out. The birthday boy was forced into the limelight as glamorous Maureen, in shimmering sequins, told him in song that he looked “Wonderful Tonight”.
It was great to see Con reunited with his six children, with offspring flying in for the festival from Canada and Australia. And many of Con’s musical buddies made guest appearances too. Andy Williams started his comeback, as agreed, and Johnny Cash entertained us with his ring of fire (with Wobbly Bob on standby with the fire extinguisher). Even the Gallagher brothers from Charlestown behaved themselves and bashed out some Oasis anthems for the tiddly audience. Dancin’ Frank was in his element, crushing the toes of unwilling young lady partners, as he jived the night away non-stop, like Bez from the Happy Mondays. You couldn’t hear yourself drink. Sign language at the bar was the Order of the night.
Maurice never made it on one leg from his home on the Moy, but he could probably hear the racket down by the old convent. The rest is a blur … (not Damon’s gang who got the sh*t kicked out of them by the Gallaghers behind the chip van).
Only two days to go. I’m looking forward to the beauty parade of sheep on Sunday afternoon. The local girls always scrub up nice for fanciers.


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