July. And so to the first of our trips abroad (the Isle of Wight doesn’t count). Heathrow, Terminal 1, the VIP lounge, en route to Dublin. We’re minus our two ‘Irishmen’, Terl and Nick, who are missing the ‘gig’ due to prior commitments. We miss them but welcome Martin Neil on board (and on drums) for the show. Danica will take on Nick’s penny whistle duties as we are performing ‘All My Sins’ live on ‘Saturday Night With Miriam’ on RTE. On arrival we are whisked from the airport to the historic Shelbourne hotel in the heart of Dublin. The Irish constitution was drafted here in 1922 by Michael Collins, and 1 of only 2 original copies can be found in the hotel. After checking in to our luxurious rooms, we partake of afternoon tea in the lounge bar overlooking St Stephen’s Green. Then it’s off to RTE where everyone is warm and welcoming. Irish eyes are sparkling and the banter is great. We have an hour to rehearse and check the sound before we head back to the hotel and out for an evening meal. I order a glass of Guiness. This is not a pint, the waiter explains, nor a half pint, but about three quarters of a pint. Only in Ireland. The drink originated in the brewery of Arthur Guiness (1725–1803) and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide.  850 million litres are sold annually. The ‘burnt’ flavour is derived from roasted, unmalted barley. and it’s thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen when poured. Marvellous stuff… and so, back to RTE where our moment came and went in a flash. We retired to the Green Room for wine, nibbles and mingling and watched Elizabeth’s interview on the monitor… the show went well, everyone was happy and wanted to know when we are coming back again … hopefully soon. Sunday morning, a stroll down Grafton Street before breakfast, with the ghosts of Joyce and Kavanagh… poetry and music hanging in the air…

On Raglan Road of an autumn day I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue
I saw the danger and I passed along the enchanted way
And I said let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay
Oh I loved too much and by such by such is happiness thrown away

I gave her gifts of the mind, I gave her the secret signs
Known to the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint I did not stint, I gave her poems to say
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet, I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had loved not as I should a creature made of clay
When the angel woos the clay he'll lose his wings at the dawning of the day

The poem was put to music when the poet, Kavanagh, met Luke Kelly of famous Irish folk band 'The Dubliners', in a Dublin pub called The Bailey. It was set to the music of the traditional song 'The Dawning Of The Day'. Given the similarity in themes and the use of the phrase "dawning of the day", it is quite likely that Kavanagh, from the beginning, imagined the pairing of verse and tune. Kelly himself acknowledges that the song was gifted to him that evening at The Bailey… and so, dreaming and breakfast over, it’s back to the airport for the short hop back to London… memories are made of this. Next up… Montreux!

Steve

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