Also on the Tuesday afternoon we went to the Sean Potts tribute. Sean Potts himself was at the concert and very active. Talking about his own father and family, and how he got into the music, and his love of the pipes. Sean also played som tunes, including a nice duet with Michael Turbidy on flute. Four pipers paid tribute to Sean during the concert - Sean (og) Potts, Ronan Browne together with Pedar McLoughlin on fiddle, Sean McKeon, solo and Gay McKeon, solo. Considering his involvement with NPU I was surprised that there were no other pipers paying tribute. Prehaps a generation "thing"?.
Wednesday back into Miltown in time for the afternoon piping recital. Leo Rickard played a fine session of tunes including two moving airs. Musicians from the north were arriving now in Miltown and there was a great session in Cleary´s on during the afternoon. We were playing away and a lady from Armagh came in and sat down, she had her daughters with her, and an old looking flute box in snakeskin leather. She opened the box and there she had a beautiful boxwood R&R in pristine condition. Time stopped for a moment. Myself and the other two flute players were gobsmacked. She was a very fine musician too, and it was great to her her play this instrument and do it justice. When she joined it and started to play the bottom notes had that fuzzy breathy sound at first then became more focused and solid the longer she played. Turns out she had another three digit Rudall as well, at home. As far as I could make out the serial number of the boxwood R&R is 3860 or maybe 3680. She put some almond oil on the stamp to make it stand out more, but in the light and guinness fueled heat of the moment, plus the excitement of being confronted with such an instrument out of the blue in the middle of a firey session it was difficult to focus clearly. Should have had a magnifying glass really. The flute was in immaculate condition with patent head and original ivory inlay just around the embouchure hole. No warping and had a very powerful sound. One of the other flute players, from England who also had a Rudall with him was of the opinion that this boxwood flute must have been a special order, probably for some gentlewoman back in the day. Also at this session were some folks from Manchester including a flute player called Renée, also from Armagh originally she said. We played in this session until it was time to go to the evening piping recital. As usual some great piping was heard. Another young girl, 14 years old I believe played very well, very steady and musical. Peter Browne played very well too, as did Kevin Rowsome playing a Leo Rowsome D set this year. Tiarnan Ó Duinnchin from Monaghan was also outstanding and Emmett Gill too. All the pipers that played, played well.
Thursday it rained all day long, so the pubs were really packed in Miltown. We were starting to feel the effects of the late nights, and all the non-stop music. We were either playing ourselves, or listening to others playing on stage on in a session. We decided to see if we could meet up with David Levine at a session at Murphy's, St.Bridget's Well, Liscannor. We got there around 8 pm went into the tiny bar and were told that the music would start around 10 pm. Just as we driving away a battered old Opel pulled up, and this big hard looking man wearing a t-shirt with the arms ripped off, and what seemed to be wooden leg got out. In his hand he had a wooden flute, fully assembled, and ready to go, no flute box. We wondered if the other musicians at the session later on would be like this bloke. We turned up again at the pub around 10 pm and people were starting to arrive. Helena started talking to an elderly man at the bar and I thought to myself, I've seen him at the fiddle recital. It turned out to me Marty O'Keefe, nearly 95 years old and still going strong. There were more musicians that listeners in the bar and we didn't know what David looked like so I asked a lady, and she was able to point him out as she turned out to be his wife, Rosalyn. The session was full, must have been 10-12 musicians prehaps more, We didn't have seats but I got the flute out for some tunes. Marty was very inspiring to hear and see. David suggested we go to another pub, Killshanny House for some tunes as the session was so big. On the way out we had a few words with Marty. I had to ask him about Johnny Doran, as Marty was from Ballyvaughn and born 5 years before Johnny. Marty knew of Johnny of course and said it was the Traveller musicians that came with the new tunes back in those days. He hadn't played with Johnny though. David directed us via some twisty back roads to Killshanney House and we had some nice tunes there in the nearly empty pub with David, and a couple from Murphy's bar, on fiddle and flute, Mary and Joe. Very nice people David, Rosalyn, Mary and Joe by the way. As I mentioned the week was starting to catch up on us, and we were back at the tent around 1.30 am.
Friday we drove in to Miltown to hear Professor Jimmy O'Brien-Moran play at the afternoon recital. Jimmy played very well and in one tune put in some examples of extremely tight piping, Andy Conroy style. We went up to the piping workshop to say hello to Dave Hegarty. Dave was on the way out and Finbar McLaughlin was helping someone with a reed. My pipes were fine all the week, although the humidity made the chanter reed open and play louder than it normally does. The sessions in Clearys were full, no seats and lots of musicians hovering and texting messages, so we had a listen, and talked to people, had a listen to Maurice Lennon playing in a session in the secret room in the Central, then decided that we were full to the brim with music, and it was finally time to take leave of Miltown.
So another Willie Week has come and gone. Fewer pubs in Milltown, but the sessions were just as vibrant and exciting, it's harder to get a seat, but not impossible. We just go for the music and the craic, and it's still there in great quantities even though Miltown is moving with the times, becoming a modern small town, for better or worse. We didn't hear anything about the classes except that the fee is now 140 euros (100 sterling) (200 USD. We snatched a few brief words here and there during the week with Willie Week regulars, said quick hellos to Barry Riley, Emmett Gill, John Murphy, Mick O'Brien, Joe Doyle, Tony Keanes, Noel from Tyrone, everyone's busy, but that's how it is at Willie Week, you don't go there to chill out. Didn't see Jim Carroll, or Judy Walsh this year, tried to buy Emmett's CD but it had sold out, which is a good sign. Missed seeing Peter Laban & Kitty Hayes playing in a concert on the Thursday as we were at Liscannor, can't be everywhere.