What an interesting month I’m having! After years of toying with an idea for over two years. I finally saw it come to fruition this month. The idea was a simple one. Take a musical bus tour around Ireland, with me as the host. Over the course of the week, I would do three private performances for those who signed up for the bus tour. We would visit places that meant something to me personally, and also a couple of my favourite spots in Ireland. After spending four years living in America, I have become even more proud of my country and all it has to offer. So I wanted to share it with as many as possible. That being said, I wanted the tour to be small, so that it would be personable and that by the end of the week, I would know everyone on it and more importantly, they would know me. Thankfully after a month on sale, the trip was a sell out and it was a go! I was tickled pink!
However I would need help accomplishing this as the logistics were beyond my area of expertise. So I enlisted my good friends Chris and Kelly at Travel Concepts, Massachusetts. They went above and beyond the call of duty and even tagged along to see that everyone’s needs were met. The lure of guinnes and good craic had absolutely nothing to do with it I’m assured!!
On day one we all met in Shannon, a small town outside Limerick where international flights come through. In particular, American flights. Upon boarding our bus, we headed west to the Cliffs of Moher which is one of the most stunning views on the west coast of Ireland. It ranks high on my to-do list for all of you visiting Ireland. However, on our visit, the rain was bucketing out of the sky, and those of us willing to brave the weather in pursuit of pictures and the view, got drenched! All I could think of was, “their getting a real flavour of Ireland now!” I was concerned though that this would be the weather for the week. Much and all as we were all in high spirits, I believe if it continued like this, that spirit would diminish quickly. Sitting on a bus in wet gear is no mans idea of fun.
After getting to Kilarney and checking into our hotel, I was all set to do the first of my performances for the group. The setting was beautiful in Muckross park hotel and the vibes were fantastic. I knew we were in for a great week.
I was nervous about the trip, as I didn’t know everyone coming on it, and was hoping that we would all get on. Either I would jump off the bus within 24hrs, or more likely, be pushed off the bus! Thankfully after day one, I knew this group would be fantastic fun, and I wasn’t wrong. The show went great and they were all extremely enthusiastic.
The next morning I woke to the sun splitting the trees, and I was delighted. Yet aware that in Ireland, we could have snow by lunchtime!! Thankfully that wasn’t the case and the weather was great all week. Unheard of! Perhaps I should bring more tours to Ireland if it’s going help the climate!
We went from Kilarney to Dingle, the home of Fungi the dolphin, then on to Blarney in Co.Cork where many of my friends and family got concerned when they heard I kissed the stone. From there to Cobh. A coastal town in Cork, famed as the last stop of the Titanic before it sank. Many of the victims boarded the boat at Cobh and indeed the museum there was a fitting setting for my second performance. After Cork we traveled to Waterford Crystal to experience first hand the craftsmanship of Ireland that is heralded throughout the world. Followed by a trip to Kilkenny, where I brought the tour to my grandmothers home village “Paulstown”. There we stopped and took pictures at the house where she grew up, and around the back we visited the grave of my great grand parents, whom I’m certain never expected their great grandson to bring a bus load of Australian and American visitors to see them. I did wonder what they would have thought.
The final stage of the tour was my hometown of Dublin. I say town, although I’m certain many of you know it’s a city. The largest city in Ireland, and home to over 1.5 million citizens. Of that number is my small family and I was delighted that after visiting my school and church where I got married, the group got to meet them. My 96 year old grandmother also turned up to my delight. Later we visited the Guinness factory, where I was shocked to learn, I hadn’t got shares in at this point!!
On the final night, we traveled to Bellingham Castle for my final performance and a special dinner. It was a lovely way to end an extremely enjoyable week. Not just for those who signed up for the trip, but for me. I consider them all good friends now, and we are already talking about next September. So if your interested, keep checking my site and you’ll get all the details there. For those who came, I want to thank you all for the wonderful memories. Whether it be from Sydney or Melbourne Australia, or Texas, St.Louis, Mississippi, Boston, New York, Atlanta or tim buck two, I will remember you all dearly!
After a quick two days of rest, in which I caught up on sleep and time with Dominique and Bradley. I was packing again, only this time the trip is not a solo venture.
December 2010 marked my departure from Celtic Thunder. The show I had been with from its conception for five years. They were incredible years spent building the show and experiencing things I could only have dreamt of. Some of the highlights were performing in such places as Radio City and the White House.
My solo career took off again and after moving to NY with my wife, I had two no.1 albums and a tv special for American and Australian tv. I often checked in with the guys from CT and of course my friendship with Damian only grew stronger as we both chased our solo careers. Hearing of the passing of George was hard to believe and still to this day, accept.
When the producer, Sharon Browne asked me to rejoin the guys for these upcoming gigs it seemed that it was the right time. It worked with my solo schedule and promotion, so why not! Although there will only be two gigs, who knows if I will do more. Or more importantly, if they will want me to do more!!
Although some of the faces on and off stage have changed I expect it to be as exciting and fun. I am a little nervous as I’m not sure if or how I will fit back in, but all involved are lovely people and I am sure I will be made fit very quickly.
When I return to Ireland it will be full steam ahead with my first solo Irish tour. The concept of my show is a tribute to the “Great Irish Songbook”. Where I will sing some of my favourite pieces to come out of Ireland. From the time of Percy French and Thomas Moore to modern day songwriters like Paul Brady, Van Morrison, Brendan Graham, Jimmy McCarthy and indeed Phil Coulter! Im excited to get out to the smaller theatres around Ireland and back to what I consider my musical home, The National Concert Hall Dublin.
It is proving to be an eventful end to the year and hopefully the momentum will carry into 2016.
Thank you all for your continued support and I hope to see many of you again soon.
For now, keep well