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A Night In Killeshandra

December 14, 2011
Maggies Bar in Killeshandra has a session running every thursday night for the past 25 years. During that time the place has changed ownership/management five times!
The musicians have had many a good night there over the years. And so have the many tourists who have called in. Just to prove I’m not telling a lie I’m including a story here which was written by a visitor from Chicago. In 1999 my cousins came to visit. Cousin Jeanne had her 2 lovely daughters with her and cousin Loretta was with her two sons who were old enough to drink Guinness! They all said that this night was the best of their holiday! Here is an account of the night as written by Liz then aged 14.
A Night in Killeshandra
by Liz Mahoney
October 4, 1999

Meeting new relatives was very interesting. I guess I never realized how different American culture is from Irish culture. Even though I hadn’t seen these relatives since nearly ten years ago, they acted as if I had just gone away on a long vacation and hugged me as if I had known them all my life. After the Irish welcoming, we all paraded into the 200 year old Georgian farmhouse where we were served coffee and soda with ice, “a special treat for the Yanks,” as Grainne said. After our drinks, we had a traditional Irish dinner consisting of lamb, two kinds of potatoes, broccoli and turnips. After dinner we had a very scrumptious trifle.

Around ten o’clock, someone stood up and recommended going to Dicky’s Pub for the Thursday Night Session. It was ten o’clock! Personally, I was sort of tired. But I thought, what the heck, and put a smile on my face and followed everyone out the door.

Getting to the pub was quite an experience. We had a stick shift car, and through the rain, in the dark, we stick-shifted our way down the winding roads to the little town of Killeshandra to Dicky’s Pub. All seventeen people and six fiddles filed one by one into Dicky’s. I must admit we changed the mood of the pub. Not because there were children there, but because the Yanks and more importantly the musicians had arrived! The music started around 10:30 and started rather slow. Everyone got themselves a drink and slowly began organizing themselves to play the fiddles.

By 11:15, other musicians had arrived and things started heating up. My cousins, Tony and Greg, were each on their second pint of Guinness and my nine year old cousin Lorcan was running around swiping their hats. Before I knew it, 12:30 had rolled around and the pub was in full swing, with fourteen musicians playing fiddles, drums, accordions, flutes, and guitars. By then, Tony and Greg were on their fourth pint each and I made little smiley faces in the foam on the tops of their pints of Guinness. Lorcan was my partner in crime while we tormented Tony and Greg and their beloved hats and pints. Finally, Greg got a little fed up with my fingers in his Guinness and said, “If you’re touching it, you’re drinking it!” So … I did. And I must say, Guinness is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

After five pints of Guinness, Tony and Greg started to act a little too happy. Tony said, “Lizarita, I think it’s about time for you to learn the rules of drinking.” And continued to babble on and on. I simply smiled and nodded my head as if I cared. This sort of made me laugh. And I looked at everyone around me. They all were smiling, singing, and having a good time. I felt as if I had known them for years even though we had just met no more than a few hours ago. Sitting in that hot, stuffy pub, it was at that moment I felt connected and knew what it meant to be Irish.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. pauline mcdermott/smith permalink
    January 14, 2012 9:48 pm

    You might like to know that it was my self – Pauline Mcdermott/Smith together with Gerry Duffy – both killeshandra – who started this session originally. We were starting the Killeshandra Youth Band which we both were involved in – much needed funds were required for uniforms, flags, banners, insurance etc – so myself Gerry Duffy, Martin Duffy, Ted Sweeney, Brian McCaffrey and the late Packie Teevan RIP started to play when pub was owned by by Seamus & Monica Reilly – now in Drumlane Bar Milltown. Among the many many musicians who joined were James Cosgrove, Marion Whale/Reilly, Seamus Charles, Hilda & Gerry Brady, Marion & Declan Crowe Seamus Smith, Martin Smith, Sharon Smith, Maria Smith, Paddy & Carmel McDermott, Brian Mulligan, Matthew & Mary Keaney, Enda McDermott, later to be joined by the children of these people – far too many to mention. Floating musicians were always welcomed and indeed we had many many fantastic people who came along. Word spread over the years – holiday makers & fishermen enjoyed the relaxed session – we made many friends & its still magic to think that 25yrs + it is still going strong …….a mighty success story to all involved… apologies if I have left any very important person out ….and I also want to pay a great tribute to the parents of the group who sewed & encouraged the music seed in us long long before this time. May it continue for a great many years ………to come … Pauline.

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