TUESDAY night and off we go. We parked and togged on the Dyke Road. Donning glad rags mothballed for football outings we scrubbed up well. The vessels of the Volvo Ocean Race were berthed in Galway Docks.
Our ship docked too. President Michael D Higgins captured the full attention of the assembled multitudes with a sincere address of welcome. And, like all great orators, he doesn’t waffle. He knew we had a sailing to catch.
The Sawdoctors were bringing us on life’s musical journey. We’ve song surfed with them umpteen times before so we know the charted course now. They stoke the turbines with coals quarried from our heart. Warbling us down the N17 and we can still feel the lump in our throat because we too turned left in Claregalway cutting the umbilical cord to home.
When Davy Carton asks us to meet him on Clare Island our spirit guides us down the narrow Atlantic boulevard towards Padraic O’Malley’s shop.
Across Clew Bay our non-negotiable Mayo pride genuflects at the chapel atop Croagh Patrick’s peak when that haunting musical intro unties our green and red christening robes. Then flashes of magical Mayo days and Ciaran McDonald nailing that awesome point or Mary Robinson elected President of Ireland spark the lightening rod of the mind.
The Sawdoctors take us to places we never really left. Their songs are our stories. We boogie in a disco hall in youthful Shrule when they pay homage to the deejay Tommy K.
Leo’s hint of a time ‘hardly anyone had the telly’ recycles days of journeyed wonder. We’re kids again in the backseat of the car and dad driving down the twisting turning winding roads of Galway and Mayo.
The landmarks he pointed to remain permanently signposted on our brain. We head out the Kilconly Road from Tuam, passing Dillon’s shop at the old Sugar Factory gate. Across the Castlegrove railway line we go and home by Ironpool flagged with a friendly wave from Vin Connolly in Ballynagittagh.
Crossboyne’s latest household name, Rickie O’Neill, drums up ‘The Joyce Country Ceilí Band.’ Now we’re rocking the cradle of the song back in Ciaran Burke’s Pub in Clonbur as Thomas and Mary step the Connemara Set. And will ya’ look at the ‘get up’ of her with the brand new perm and her pleated skirt.
And a thousand listenings on, we still marvel anew at Leo Moran’s genius. Last Tuesday night we skimmed uncharted emotional waves on our maiden hearing of ‘All Galway United’. The dirge is a merited salaam to a true Galwegian. Eamon “Chick” Deacy dribbled his soccer dream from Terryland Park all the way to Villa Park in Birmingham.
I’ve my own special affinity with ‘Chick’ and well I might. I was unceremoniously dumped once because of him. It’s a tale from school now ripe for telling.
Jimmy Hill’s Match of the Day was our saturation coverage of ‘Chick’s’ overseas progress so, when Val Joyce of ‘Airs and Races’ fame mentioned that ‘Chick’ Deacy had scored for Aston Villa, passion caught me offside. I shelved earlier plans of a Saturday night in Cong and a date with Juliet, opting instead for ‘Chick’ on the telly.
Communication lines were ropey but I still figured she’d work out the ‘as lár’ bit for herself. Returning the following Saturday night expecting to pick up where we hadn’t left off was my introductory lesson to the ‘hell hath no fury’ maxim. Juliet wasn’t for turning and she flashed the straight red.
Undependable is probably the only printable adjective I can repeat from her acerbic bombardment. And to think ‘I useta love her’ once.
But it’s because of the clued-in Sawdoctors we still rock the fun of yesteryear. They sing fathoms deep into our psyche. Their songs are ever the perfectly tuned backing track to our rhyme of life.
Stars danced over Cloughaover last Tuesday night as we headed home from the greatest gig of all.
We hummed to the echo of our soul.