29th December: Well wouldn't Colm Long be chuffed!! In todays issue of the News & Star (a local Waterford City newspaper), here he is in the company of one helluva singer, Val Doonican, and one helluva comedian and entertainer, Denny Corcoran, all of whom passed away in 2015. High praise indeed!
26th December: The swim was held in appalling weather, right on time at 1pm, and fair play to all the participants for braving the elements (wind, rain and high waves). Michael would be proud of them all!!
16 Dec 2015: It is hard to credit that Michael Hearne is gone from us for nigh on 10 years, or even more. Michael, sadly, only enjoyed one year with Hooks and Crookes before his untimely passing. It was a pleasure to sing with him and to enjoy his company, even if he only had a brief stint with us. He is undoubtedly entertaining all and sundry, where ever he is, with his unique rendition of The Mermaid, which, even now, is a joy to listen to, as Michael hit those dulcet tones with his wonderful base voice.
It is great too that he is not forgotton and that his family organise an annual sponsored swim in his memory.
The swim takes place on St Stephens Day at 1pm on Lalwor's Beach (the main strand) in Dunmore East. All in aid of Solas, a cancer charity. Maybe we might see you there!
11 October: Over two thousand people took part in the now annual RUN FOR LIFE in support of the Solas Centre, held in Waterford today. The Solas Centre tries to empower those affected by cancer, including their families, friends and colleagues and it has a fine premises at the Williamstown Roundabout where it provides a range of services and facilities for those affected by cancer. Fundraising is always a major issue but the annual run has been a major success, and helps in no small way in raising much needed funds. This year, a second route was added, especially for walkers and families. This 5 mile walk, and indeed the longer 10 mile run, took place in excellent weather conditions and was very well supported and organised.
Our own Hooks and Crookes has been severely hit by cancer, first with John and Michael and more lately with Colm and Tony, so it was great to support this worthwhile event. It was also great to see Colm and Tony singing on a TV programme called Hollywood in Éireann, broadcast on TG4 that night, and in fine voice too, to round off a documentary on the making of the film Moby Dick, by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck, in Youghal in 1954. Poignant indeed.
24 September: Life, inevitably, must go on. It is hard to credit that when we sang in Jack Meades pub in September 2014 for a social gathering of Balloonists in Waterford for the Irish Ballooning Championship that two of our crew members, Colm and Tony, would not be with us when we sang at the same venue for the same group of people in 2015. And so it was, and it was somewhat poignant too, to sing in their shadows, on the same stage and at more or less at the same time and day 12 months later. Life is indeed cruel at times, but however short it may be, it is important to make the best of it. There were only three of us onstage (Ol, Joe & Dec) and that too was a first, a first in that it was the first time that we had ever sung with just three. But sing we did with just three and luckily we had amplification to make sure we were heard singing our mix of shanties – Heave Away, A Rovin (though we had to abandon thatafter one or two attempts at hitting the right note!, another first), Cape Cod, Lusitania, The Ship, Billy O'Shea and Health to the Company, and ballads too – Molly Malone, The Auld Triangle and Maids when you are Young. Joe and Olly contributed to the general sing song afterwards with Lily Marlene.
AVI sang before and after us and what a talented musician she is, and we wish her well in Orlando where she is heading to soon to entertain audiences there.
And so we finished Voyage 11 on a high note (in more ways than one!) and we dedicated the night to our absent friends. We are unsure now what the future holds for us. Time will tell.
4 Sept 2015: We lost another crew member and good friend today, Tony Barden, who passed away this morning after a short illness. He is a great loss to his family and friends, and for us in Hooks and Crookes, it is especially poignant, so soon after losing Colm. May he rest in peace.
23 August 2015: We were delighted to sing at the launch of a book on the Tragedy of the Sea Horse, which took place in the Coastguard Station in Tramore. We did four songs (Haul on the Bowline, Blood Red Roses, Shine on Me & Lusitania), and these were very well received by the attentive audience. The anniversary of the loss of the Sea Horse is in January 2016 and a series of events will be launched around that time and later to commemorate the loss of so many lives in Tramore Bay.
22 July 2015: Our good friend and fellow shantyman, Colm Long, passed away overnight. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him.
May he rest in peace.
26th July: At Chambley in France, raconteur extraordinaire Olly Lupton, was blowing a lot of hot air (a bit more than usual!) to try and get hot-air balloons off the ground, over 300 of them in fact. What a sight.
We have been to Falmouth on four occasions, more than we have gone anywhere else, and it is of special significance as it was our first international event way back in 2006 and more especially in that we always receive a very warm welcome from our good friends in Falmouth Shout, and we usually share a song and a drink with them whenever we can.
This years' Festival in Falmouth was the biggest and best yet, with over 50 groups performing on the streets, on the two big stages and in the pubs and hotels. Literally everywhere you went in Falmouth you could hear shanties ringing out and there were superb groups performing old and new songs. We also met several old friends from different groups and it was great to interact with them again.
We arrived safely from Newquay having flown from Dublin airport on the Friday, and after a buffet of pasties, prawns and strawberries, washed down by pints of Betty Stoggs, we made our way to our first performance onstage at Custom House Quay at 9pm, which went very well indeed. On Saturday, it was great to meet with Penny again and share some reminisces of her visit to Waterford, when she joined us in Callaghane. We had four gigs all day at 3, 5, 7 and 9 pm (each 50 minutes long) so it was tough going for a bunch of fading shantymen. We also had to eat on the hoof: poor old Olly was starving when it was all over (and cranky too!!) but all he could get was olives and other bits and pieces. But while we were helping Olly to eat those in The Shed, a gaggle of women on a hen night out and wonderfully dressed in Great Gatsby outfits insisted that we sing a song, and Tony duly obliged with Lady of Autumn.
We had two gigs on Sunday at 1 and 3pm and we were kindly asked at the Falmouth Hotel if we would sing a song for a local woman celebrating her birthday and Pat duly obliged with The Rose of Allendale and Olly with Cockles and Mussels. The closing ceremony at five was very special. It was preceeded by Fishermans Friends, who gave a great performance, watched by a large and appreciative audience. Many of the groups sang a song each, and Joe finished it all off with a great rendition of Roseanna. A flavour of what was sung is available here.
Our good friends from Falmouth Shout (Alan, Gordon, Phil & all the crew) very kindly invited us to join them for a meal in Cribbs Restaurant. The food was good and the wine flowed freely and we sang some wonderful songs to finish off a great day and indeed a great weekend. Back home then on Monday and the routine. But a wonderful weekend was had by all and it will live long in the memory.
We were on a busy mini tour over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Our first performance was in Fethard on Sea at Neville’s Restaurant and Bar where we were enthusiastically met by Irene Neville. After a brief warm up we launched into a lively programme of shanties entertaining the many diners in the restaurant and were enthusiastically received. Captain Long rendered a robust version of “Whiskey” Johnny which saw him perform for the first time in a “long” while. We then enjoyed a libation and some sandwiches to keep us from keeling over with starvation while travelling to Rosslare. We were sad to leave Fethard on Sea as we have had some lovely grub & grog there in the past and the air was full of expectation….The night was foggy and wet and we travelled safely to arrive at Rosslare at 19.50 hrs and immediately set about a sound check and having been briefed on the programme set and the the evenings entertainment. Our programme was well received and the new songs of “River” and “A Pint of Plain” went down a treat. Joe’s Lusitania being appropriate at present with the commemoration of the loss of the ship on the 7th May 1915 being 100 years ago this week was respectfully received and with good amplification the words were heard and appreciated. We had a curry and rice to follow and stayed to sing with the combined groups the timeless “Leave her Johnny“ after singing happy Birthday to John Boyce who was surprised by his lovely daughter with a candle lit birthday. Aye, another successful sortie by the Internationally famous Hooks and Crookes.
Our first performance of 2015 was at the Dungarvan Food Festival and it was a very successful Hooks and Crookes event, even though we were short on numbers. The day was a replica of 2014 with wind and showers but the turnout throughout the day was high. It was an enjoyable venue to perform at and we had a lovely few pints in the Lady Belle sponsored by the proprietor Deirdre. We rendered Cape Cod Shanty and a Pint of Plain there to entertain the "Grand National" punters. This was followed by lovely steaks in The Moorings sponsored by the lovely Marie ....
In performance we sang Shantyman, Sally Brown, River and A Pint of Plain from our new repertoire along with a few old favourites.
Thank you to the team in Dungarvan for a well organised event.