Killybegs 1983

The following story comes courtesy of my father, Seamus. After reading about my encounter with ‘The Minnesotan Extrovert’ which I described in my last entry, he was reminded of a similar experience he had while standing on a pier in County Donegal, back in ‘the good ‘oul days’.

I feel this is as good a time as any to mention that I’ve inherited much of my passion for creativity from my father; a talented musician, singer/songwriter and storyteller. He continues to help nurture my creative side in many ways; he taught me how to play the guitar, he has always encouraged the practice of writing my thoughts on paper, and whenever I hit a creative wall and find myself struggling for inspiration, I can turn to him for advice or direction.


In Full Flow

Actually now that I think of it, the Irish folk song ‘Spancil Hill’ was the first song he taught me how to play; a melancholic tale from the 1800’s, lamenting the plight of Irish immigrants who longed for home. I wonder, while playing that song over and over again in my bedroom, struggling with the chord transitions and trying to ignore the sting in my fingertips, if there was a small part of my pre-adolescent self who knew I would one day look back, and be able to relate with how Michael Considine felt at the time of writing. I wonder if Shem somehow knew?

Apologies, I digress.

Over to you, Shem.

Killybegs harbour, August 1983.

It was 9am on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning. Myself and a few of the lads were standing on the pier, feeling a bit worse for wear. We had been drinking and playing music in ‘The Harbour Bar’ until the wee hours of the morning.

The area was a very popular tourist destination at the time, especially for those visiting from across the pond. This particular American couple, I suppose they were in their late sixties, started to engage one of the lads in the group, let’s call him CW for the purpose.

Fair play to him, because I was shattered and wasn’t fit to utter a single word, and he was in far worse shape than me. To add to that, the lady was vigorous and pretty full on. As soon as the exchange started I could sense my friends sarcastic tone, and it had me in convulsions of silent laughter.

The following is a snippet.

Lady: ‘Are you from the locality?’

CW: ‘No, just up for the long weekend.’

Lady: ‘Do you know what’s going on here today?’

CW: ‘Blessing of the boats. They do it this time every year.’

Lady: (to her husband) ‘Did you hear that Harry, they’re blessing the boats today. (to CW) And when does all this start?’

CW: ‘As soon as the last boat comes in.’

Lady: ‘They fish at night?’

CW: ‘They always do.’

Lady: ‘Really! Why is that?’

CW: ‘Well, because the fish will be asleep you see, and they won’t hear the boats creeping up on them.’

Lady: ‘Oh my! (to husband) Did you hear that Harry?’

Harry: ‘Sure did.’

Lady: ‘Isn’t that amazing!’

Harry: ‘Sure is honey. Ye learn somethin’ new ev’ryday.’

Lady: ‘You surely do.’

And they wandered off along the pier.

Thought for the day; it’s much easier to catch a sleeping fish! Thanks for sharing Shem!