We left Waterford at 11am on Thursday 25th August for a Ryanair flight to Amsterdam and on then by hired car to our hotel in Delfzijl, about 8km north of Appingedam where we arrived at 9.30 that night, tired but glad to have arrived. It was fierce hot that day (around 33 degrees!) so it was hard to sleep in the conditions but we managed. We had most of Friday for looking at the dykes, dams, locks and the pumps of Delfzijl and that was interesting in the much more tolerable weather conditions (around 24 degrees and sunny). We made our way to Appingedam for food at 5pm where we chatted with some old friends before going to the official opening at 7pm. Then the groups scattered to the various venues to sing and entertain the crowds. All the singing was interrupted at around 10pm for an illuminated parade of sail up the canal and that was eye-catching and very colourful, and musical too as some of the groups sang from the boats. We sang well at our three gigs though it was challenging in the two lively pub venues as the audience were well oiled. There was great music to be heard between gigs and we enjoyed listening wherever we could.
We had a late start on Saturday (2pm) so we went for a ramble again along the dykes in Delfzijl in a different direction. We had 5 gigs that evening and they were all great and well attended, especially the last one of the night at 11, where we followed De Kaapstander and they stayed to sing along with us. It was hot there, too hot maybe (Joe looked like Christy Moore in his prime, with buckets of sweat running down his jowels!) but the songs flowed, along with the sweat. An electrical storm followed and was that spectacular with sheet and fork lightning as we made our way home to our hotel (Pension Delfzijl).
On Sunday we were scheduled to be on stage at 12 but we ended up in the marquee nearby because of problems with the electrical equipment after the previous nights storm. We did very well all the same and the shanty groups preparing for the day enjoyed our set of songs. Over then to the museum (a lovely venue). It was great to talk to Hughie Jones, he who sang for 20 years with the Spinners. He stayed to listen to us which was great. Now in his eighties he is a lovely man who enjoys his music and it shows too in his performances. Next stop was De Koning Van Groningen to entertain the people enjoying their lunch and coffees; Olly's went off as Pat sang Lady of Autumn, which Pat interpreted as a call from heaven!! Our last stop and the last gig of the weekend was in the Doofpot pub; it was quiet there on a warm sunny afternoon (everyone was outside in the square listening to other music) but the songs went down well all the same. We stayed there for a drink or two but Pat and Dec went outside to liste to Les Souillés de fond de cale from Brittany and it was a wonderful gesture from Philipe who invited us up, along with other groups, to sing that mighty song Pique la Baleine. Mighty is right! The closing ceremony was packed with people rocking to the sound of Harmony Glen. We ventured across the road to Groene Weide for a communal dinner feast washed down with wine, beer and tae. At that stage many of the groups had dispersed but those that remained gathered later on for an afterparty sing song outside Restaurant Gooday and that was really special with several wonderful songs from the different groups present (including four from us).
We had an early start on Monday morning (7am) so as to reach Schiphol Airport in time for our flight at 2pm, what with heavy traffic with everyone back at work after the holidays, security checks at the airport and trying to find petrol for the cars. But we made it and arrived home in Waterford at 6pm on Monday evening, tired but content after another fantastic weekend of music and song where we met many old friends, and some new ones too, and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to all songs and singing. Thanks to Armstrong’s Patent for organising this 15th Bie Daip Festival and to Janneke and Hero for inviting us. Stichting Bie Daip
The annual gathering of the Galway Hookers in Kinvara is always a lively affair and this Festival has been on the go now for almost 40 years. It is a great celebration of these fantastic boats and, more importantly, the people that continue to maintain and sail them, even though the boats no longer fulfil the purpose for which they were built, except at Festivals such as Crinniú na mBád, when one or two are loaded with turf to maintain the tradition. So it was wonderful for us to attend the Festival and sing a few songs.
We arrived on Friday evening and we sang a set of songs for the diners in the North Pier restaurant, which overlooks the picturesque Kinvara Pier. We wandered around then the various pubs and most of them were heaving with people and music and craic. On Saturday we were back down in the North Pier pub drinking coffee when a large group of cyclists arrived from Dublin on a charity cycle in aid of autism research from Clontarf to Lahinch. Sure we had to sing them Billy O’Shea while they had their soup and sandwiches and we saw them off with a good rendition of Roseanna. Saturday afternoon saw us over at Parkmore Pier where there was a BBQ for the boatmen and their friends. There was lovely traditional music to be heard in the marquee but we sang a few songs and we enjoyed some lovely Guinness too. We adjourned from there to the Thatch Hotel in Kinvara to watch Waterford beat Antrim in the u21 hurling semi-final and we stayed on to see Galway beat Dublin in the other semi final; hopefully too Waterford will beat Galway in the final in a few weeks. Later on that evening we went to a talk and a film on the northwest and northeast passage voyages of the Northabout and that was followed by Coda, a shanty group from Sligo, who sang a selection of beautiful songs, one or two of which we hadn’t heard before. Down then to the North Pier bar where Coda sang a few more songs before they departed for home and we sang a few more shanties, and then we sang a few more songs and ballads and then a great sing song followed with several superb singers participating.
An open air mass was held on the pier on Sunday, followed by the blessing of the boats and we left for home soon after. We opted for the longer coastal route through Ballyvaughan (where we sang Time Ashore for the diners), Black Head, Doolin and the very foggy Cliffs of Moher. While the weather was just a little bit inclement for the weekend, the craic was ninety all the same and we had great fun as usual. Thanks to Michael Brogan for having us and to Pat and Mary for putting us up and especially Pat who fed us and looked after us so well over the weekend.
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