The Emerald Isle Tours

(You're not ready for this...)

The stories of our trips to Northern Ireland are nothing short of amazing. 

Our friend John Anderson (and world class trombone player), called me up in 2004 to ask if Linda & I wanted to go to Ireland with him and wife Karen to attend a jazz festival he was playing in. John was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, and spent 30 years there before emigrating to Canada, so it was a trip back home for him. I explained that I'd go if I didn't have to play in anything, and the game was on. We had no idea of what we were getting into.

Robert Milne © 2024

Londonderry is in what is known as Northern Ireland. It is part of the United Kingdom, which, as you can see on the map, includes England, Scotland, and Wales. This is a result of when England invaded Ireland and laid claim to the northern section. 

Note that below the word "Londonderry" on the Streets & Trips map is the word "Derry," the original name of the city before the British renamed it. Also note the proximity of Belfast on the Irish Sea. 

This is where we were going. 

John Anderson on left with trombone. This is my Dixieland band back in the 1970s - 1990. 

From left, front: John Anderson, Duke Heitger (trpt), Walt Gower (clarinet), Ted Harley (bass)

Back row: Dan Petrella (banjo), Bob Milne (piano)

Once we arrived in Ireland I was never addressed as "Bob" again. I became "Robbie" (with a rolled 'R'), and John became "Johnny," as they all remembered what they called him from years ago. 

To properly introduce John Anderson, I need to first tell the story of a time when the band was playing at the Calumet Theatre in Calumet in Michigan's upper peninsula in 1996. John lived in London, Ontario, at the time. He told me he'd be at the concert for sure, but was taking "a wee trip to the Emerald Isle" first. He would then blitz from the airport to Calumet when he got back. This gave me some concern: Calumet, Michigan, is 600 miles north of Lapeer, and John was going to come from Toronto Airport upon landing for the gig, a distance of 750 miles. 

The Calumet Theatre 

What I'm imagining while Anderson is thundering across the land: crossing an international border, then racing up I-75 and another five hours across the upper peninsula to get here.  

As band leader, I was getting nervous when the entire band wasn't there yet and it was two hours before start time. Our trumpet player, Nate Panicacci, had been playing a gig the night before in Ypsilanti when he learned that Calumet was over 600 miles north. He left for Calumet when their gig ended at 2:00 a.m. and drove to Calumet, arriving bleary-eyed and in disbelief. And, of course I was worried about John getting there.

He came running through the stage door 15 minutes before start time. 

The place was at near capacity of 1000 people when we got on the stage. 

The band lined up across the stage and opened with a rousing, up-beat number. The audience loved it. I jumped up from the piano and thanked everyone for coming, then introduced the 2nd number we were about to play. At this point I heard Anderson calling across the stage to me in his soft Irish lilt...

"Excuse me, Robbie, but would ye like to see me travel pictures? I just got back from Ireland."

I sat there in disbelief. He was going to show frigging travel pictures fergodssake?? What the hell had gone wrong in his head?

John unfolded a newspaper from Belfast and showed it to the audience. The front page was covered with color photos. (I have made a simulation of what it looked like.) Then...

"Robbie, we were in Belfast waiting to go to the airport when the IRA struck. Five buildings suddenly exploded in front of us. One of them toppled into the street right where we'd been parked just five minutes ago. Then they bombed the bridge to the airport and the other bridge going out of town. But I knew of a 3rd bridge out there in back of O'Leary's, so me and Karen raced across it, got to the airport, and now we're here. Would ye like to hear the details, Robbie?"

I mumbled something about "I was just glad he was here and safe, and we'd hear the stories later if you don't mind." He answered, 

"Aye, Robbie. Let's adjourn to the wee pub next door when we're done. We'll have a go at it."

And lo, it came to pass that we went to the pub next door afterwards. The audience even followed us over there to hear about this.

We now return to the actual trips to Ireland. 

We flew to London, then took a "puddle jumper" to Belfast's one-runway airport. The plane landed four times, meaning we hit the ground, bounced up, and repeated three more times. A very British captain's voice then came on and said, in complete British understatement, 

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, We made It!" 

Once off the plane we learned that the bus to Londonderry had already left. The next bus was tomorrow sometime. We had a phone number to call so rambled around until we found a phone booth. 

We found a phone booth outside on a street and dialed the number. A man speaking in heavy Irish brogue answered. We couldn't understand a word he said. He couldn't understand us, either. We flagged down a chap walking down the street and he became our translator, repeating what we were saying and telling us the answers coming from the phone. It worked. A short time later a cab appeared. 

The cab delivered us to the "DaVinci Hotel in Londonderry." We checked in and went to our room. A short time later there was a knock on our door and Johnny appeared. 

"Robbie, welcome to 'Derrytown!' We do na' pronounce the 'London' part here. You got it?"

We were in Northern Ireland, and the games were indeed on. 

Before leaving our room Johnny handed me a program for the coming days of the festival. After looking through several pages I came upon a picture of myself, and the performances I was scheduled for. I asked him what the *#@! is THIS? He smiled and said,

"Surprise, Robbie. You did na think I'd let you come over here and not let everyone hear you, did you?"

Aaaaaannnnddd... there it is. 

The next section has nothing to do with music or the festival, but you won't understand either if you don't acquaint yourself with the history of this area.

The following morning Linda & I were in the (spectacular!) hotel breakfast room when a man came up and introduced himself as "Mick." He added that he was a fan of myself and had collected everything I'd ever recorded. I thanked him. Then he asked us if we'd like a "wee tour of Derrytown" before the festival began the next day. 

The next day our walking tour started at the River Foyle. We learned about it this way:

"Robbie, this here is the River Foyle. It divides Derrytown in half. On this side lives the Derrymen, and on the other side lives the goddamn Protestants." 

We were starting to get the idea.

Mick went on to explain that across the river lived the supporters of England who were proud of the fact that William of Orange conquered what is now Northern Ireland and distributed the stolen land to his friends. The Irish "serfs" were now pressed into service to build the lords' mansions and castles on land they used to own. We began to learn why the Irish people hated the English so much:

• In the early 1500s England invaded Ireland with the intention of wiping out Catholicism and replacing it with the Protestant Church of England. Thousands of priests were slain.

 • England took over the walled city of Derry and renamed it "Londonderry," the purpose being to let it be known who was in charge. 

 • William of Orange defeated Irish king James in 1690, creating the final power grab and establishing Protestant religion in Northern Ireland. 

 • The Potato Famine (1845-185) was caused by a leaf fungus, wiping out half their crop. Since the British had the same problem, they simply came over to Ireland and took all their potatoes that had survived. Over one million people died.

 • The Irish people have fiercely resisted the British for centuries. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was formed to be better able to organize their resistance to the British.

 • The Brits machine gunned 26 unarmed people and killed 14 civilians in 1972 over a non violent resistance gathering. The incident is now known as Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre. We saw the faces of the people who died painted on walls and were told,            

 "We'll never forget this."

 • There were other massacres as well. The 1971 Ballymurphy massacre in Belfast killed 11 innocent people. It was carried out by the same British soldiers who committed the Bloody Sunday disaster.  

 • The Republic of Ireland, the southern 80% of the country, is not under British rule. However, they are strong sympathizers of Northern Ireland. There was formerly a British guard booth at the border but it is not manned now. The guards kept disappearing. (We saw this booth later). 

 • The Protestants across the river have Orange Day parades to celebrate the defeat of the Irish in 1690 and the greatness of the United Kingdom. They also paint their curbs orange. If a Derryman dares park next to an orange curb their car will be burned.

 • On our tour we came upon a pub that we were told was the headquarters of the IRA. We were encouraged to go inside and "chat up the bartender and waitress. They'll recognize your American accents and treat you right, knowing that you're not one of the ^&#! Brits."

 • We learned that no police (Protestant sympathizers) will come to the area because they'd be in great danger. 

 • We saw signs on walls all over town promoting the resistance. Some of them were frightening. 

• After learning about all of this I finally said to Mick, "I feel like I'm in the heart of the IRA. He replied,

 "Robbie, who do you think your hosts are? It is they who invited you. We have the 2nd lowest crime rate in all of Europe because of them, and now they want the world to know this is a safe place to be. We take care of our own."

We would later learn these words to be true. 

This Orangeman painting William of Orange went up on a wall in Belfast in 2012, the purpose being to let the "serfs" know who's in charge.

And now, 

On to the Festival and the Wearin' O' the Green! 

Johnny's good friend and great clarinet player John Deehan joined us for this tour. 

We're playing a festival gig at the Cafe Creggan, known for its baps. 

(Oh yes, you didn't know: baps are a type of Irish pastry. Sweet rolls and such.)

Before we could even get to the baps, the radio interview team was upon us.

Now, sufficiently bapped, we set up for the gig. 

The publicity that came with the festival was fantastic. They had us on their TV stations every night. 

This gig was no doubt the least eventful of the entire four years during which I went to this festival. The joy of just sitting there eating baps would not be found again on any of the gigs I played there. Let's move on the my solo gig at the City Hotel. 

The Gig at the City Hotel 

The City Hotel is an upscale place in Derry. Notice, however, the proximity of the plate glass windows to street level. 

The piano was within inches of one of those windows. 

The room quickly filled up to well over 100 people, spilling over to another room around the corner.

As soon as I entered the hotel I sensed all the glass around and became concerned. Since the hotel catered to high end clientele I worried we might be a target. 

Outside the window the cobblestones were literally this close to me. I started to become concerned. A nearby pub had just been destroyed by an explosion in the night, and I was sitting within inches of where a bomb could be thrown, blasting tons of glass throughout the place like carving knives. 

We had walked past this gaping hole which, only days earlier had been a pub that we'd actually gone into with Johnny and others. But apparently, someone didn't approve of the place.

Roughly 90 minutes into this gig a man (who shall not be named) came through the crowd and leaned over the far end of the piano, smiling at me all the while. The conversation went like this:

Him: "Robbie! How ya' doin', me lad? You look worried. What's going on?"

Me: Afraid to say what I was thinking, I just mumbled.

Him: "C'mon now, Robbie! You can tell me what it is. What's the deal, me lad?"

Me: I told him that if someone were to throw a bomb outside on the cobblestones by the window we'd all be dead. Flying glass, gunpowder, explosion...

Him, with good cheer: "Robbie! It's not to worry! 

Sweeping his hand to draw in the crowd of people standing around laughing and having a good time, he added...

"Ya' see these fine gentlemen present, Robbie? I said 'Not to worry' because...   

"All the bombers are present with us right here in this room! You're in the safest place in Ireland, me lad!" 

He stood there beaming as I looked upon the crowd to see people dressed in fine suits and gowns. They just looked like normal people having a good time. And they were, I suppose. 

I suddenly realized that I was indeed in the safest place in Ireland. 

Conversation At a Gathering 

Possibly fifteen of us were in the living room sipping "a wee spot of tay (tea)," and many different topics came up. One of them went like this:

Ronan: "Aye, Finn: did ye hear that the Manchester (England) railroad station exploded last week?"

Finn: "Did I hear about it? i was standing in it!"

Ronan: "Well, what did you do?"

Finn: "I got the hell out of there before someone thought it was I who had done it!" 

Everyone just nodded agreement and the conversation turned to the baps being served. 

An Interesting set of Pillars 

This house belongs to a chap who always admired the big country houses with pillars. He was a hard working man and well respected in the neighborhood, but could never be able to afford the houses of his dreams. That changed when he...

Won the lottery.

Now he had between £2 ,000,000 - £19,000,000 non-taxable pounds in his bank and could obviously buy any house he wanted in all of Ireland. But he didn't. He said he couldn't leave his friends and family behind, so simply put up a pillared rain-slope above his window and door and invited his friends over for a wee spot of tay. 

Conversation At a Gathering 2

At an evening gathering in a private house the boys were celebrating having a ripping good time at the festival that night. After a while the conversation went like this:

Patrick: "Aye, Rory, do ye remember the time when ye wanted to see the radio station, but ye were too young and we could na' show it to you yet?"

Rory: "Yes, Patrick, I remember it well." 

Patrick: "But then time went by, and one day a car pulled up next to ye? And I was in it?"

Rory: "I remember like it was yesterday, yes I do."

Patrick: "And I said to ye, 'Rory, would ye like to go for a wee ride in the country? And you hopped in with us?"

Rory: "That was a great day in me life, Patrick."

Patrick: "And we took a spin out into County Donegal to me grandpappy's place. Do ye remember that, too?"

Rory: "Aye, my friend. I can see it now."

Patrick: "And me grandparents waved to us as we came up the driveway. And I leaned out the window and said to them, 'Is it time to feed the cows?'"

Rory: "Indeed I remember it, me friend. And I remember thinking it was kind of early to be feeding the cows, but we went to the barn at once. Almost in a hurry it seemed."

Patrick: "And while ye were standing there looking at the cows, grandpappy began to hastily remove haybales from the stack?"

Rory: "Yes. He stacked them off neatly to the side."

Patrick: "And then, after he'd removed about ten bales, what did you see next, Rory?"

Rory: "Bejesus, Paddy! I saw an aerial sticking up from out of the hay!"

Patrick: "And do ye remember Ian here running back and firing out a message from the keyboard?"

Rory: "I can still hear the clickin' o' the keys, Paddy! I think it took him less than 20 seconds!"

Patrick: "And then we all pitched in and stacked up the hay for me grandparents again?"

Rory: "Yes, and I pitched in as well. And you said it was my initiation to the clan."

Patrick: "Aye, it was our way of welcoming you, young Rory. And do you remember what grandmother said afterwards?"

Rory: "I remember it well, my friend. After the radio station was all put back and orderly, she said to us...

"Boys, would ye care for a wee spot of tay?" 

The Italian Job

Certain sections of Derry are rough places after dark. Gangs of youths gather in town squares and drink whiskey or vodka straight from the bottles. This is done to see if they can lure the police to the area for "a wee bit of fun." (The police don't go anywhere near them.) 

When Johnny & I (and wives) arrived for our gig at an Italian restaurant we discovered the restaurant was located right on a town square. 

Johnny welcomes our guests while I'm singing some stupid song in the background. 

My wife Linda went everywhere in the world with me on these tours. Johnny's wife Karen was also there, as well as a couple I will call "Ian" and Bridget." The gang lit into the excellent cuisine while Johnny and I goofed off and had a good time. 

During this gig a man related to us that someone had complained about the "background music being too loud." The waitress told him there was nothing could be done about. He asked why she couldn't tone it down and she told him,

"The musics' coming from the place next door (us): not in our bailiwick." 

The man had overheard this so he got up and came "next door" to listen to us. 

I was playing boogie-woogie as the guests looked on. You can see the kitchen in back of us.

Chef Sean came out and sat with us for a tune or two.. 

After a few hours Johnny told me the place was closing down and we'd might as well go home.

We made our way to the door. Johnny, myself, and Ian led the way while Linda, Karen, and Bridget followed us.

It was after dark when we walked outside, and as soon as Johnny, myself, and Ian were outside the door we were set upon by thugs. One put his arm around my shoulder and was pushing me down the street saying through booze infested breath...

"C'mon, chap: let's take a stroll around the corner..."

I resisted, pushing back, but he was stronger than me. I looked towards Johnny & Ian. They were standing in the street with thugs pushing on each one of them. In this brief split second I saw that Ian wasn't going anywhere, and was actually talking to the thug. 

The girls stayed inside, terrified. The thug continued to push me closer to the the alley even though I struggled back as much as possible. After what seemed like an eternity, the thugs suddenly let go of us and took off running down the street. I was shaking like a leaf. Then I heard Johnny speaking to me:

"Robbie! How ya' doing, lad?"

I was too scared to talk, so Johnny continued:

"I say, Robbie, you'll be all right. Ya do na' know Ian here, do ya?"

I couldn't react. I felt sick to my stomach. Johnny continued:

"Ian's the most violent soldier in the IRA, Robbie. He could have taken down the three of them with his bare hands. He's a feared man, he is, and you saw what happened when they heard his name..."

I shook for several hours more that night. Later on I realized that when I'd been told "you're in the safest place in Ireland, me lad..."

It was frighteningly true. 

A Sign on the Street...

Our friend Luana joined us on one of the tours. While searching for a coffee shop we seem to have found a good one.

The Breakfast Room was Equal to the Festival

The breakfast room at our hotel was something to behold. The Irish buffet offered literally everything I'd ever seen on a buffet plus more. 

Every table and chair would be filled with musicians and guests from all over Ireland and Europe. We'd laugh and joke and talk about each other's performances with great enthusiasm. And munch, of course. Lots of munching. 

There was an incredible show band in the festival called The Jive Aces. Sometimes they would come blasting into the breakfast room playing at full tilt, even leaping up onto the tables for a trombone solo and such. 

They would do such things as, while playing, follow us through the buffet and pointing out bacon, for instance, by playing at it. 

The waiters were always in tuxedos. At breakfast they shed their jackets and wore vests instead. They were efficient, fast and good. 

Coffee is totally unpopular in Ireland. Irish Tea (pronounced 'Tay) is served plentifully. Also, you'll never hear "a warm up" mentioned. I comes in the way of, "Excuse me, sir, but would you care for a wee heat?"

This leads us to a weird little story concerning lexicon in Northern Ireland. They, like every locale, have certain phrases which are taken as normal to the people who live there. We learned of a, uh, very bizarre one. 

In America, "yes" can be said as "sure," or "certainly," or something of the like. However, Northern Ireland has its own version. An affirmative "Yes" is said, in normal conversation, as...

F*#%@-ing A.

This led to an interesting comment when I asked our waiter in the breakfast room if I could have a wee heat. His answer?

"Oh F*#%@-ing A, sir. Is everything all right? Can I bring you anything else?"

Every morning someone or some group would spontaneously start playing for us. We could be listening to Irish jigs or someone singing Danny Boy while sampling the buffet several times in a row. 

One time there was a group of about eight singers. They sang some of the most beautiful songs and harmonies I've ever heard in my life. This includes every opera I've ever heard.  

The song "Danny Boy" is actually named "Londonderry Air." We were told an interesting story about this song. 

The song was written, according to Derry legend, after the British took over Derry in 1690 and renamed it Londonderry. An infuriated local resident (name unknown to me) wrote this song as an insult to the British by combining Londonderry with the French word for buttocks...


Therefore the Londonderry Air title means...

"London's Butt." 

We Meet the Most Famous Fiddler in Ireland...

(This part still under construction)

Danny "Dinny" McLaughlin (in green shirt) is the godfather of all Irish fiddlers. He is highly revered for his stunning abilities on the instrument, encyclopedic knowledge of the styles, and gentle personality. We were extremely fortunate to be invited to his "wee hoose" in County Donegal. 

From left: Johnny Anderson, Dinny, myself, unnamed musician.

Johnny's brother Gerry (left) was quite influential in Derrytown. He hosted a highly popular radio show and had a knack for "getting things done." It was through Gerry that the trip to Dinny McLaughlin's was arranged. 

We met the next morning to leave, only to find that Gerry had arranged a private bus with driver for the day. I mentioned the cost of it to him, and he replied...

"There is no cost."

Incredulous, I asked how that could be. His answer was...

"Somebody owed me a favor." 

Another adventure in Northern Ireland was afoot. 

County Donegal is in The Republic of Ireland, otherwise known as Free (of the British) Ireland. The map shows that Derry is directly across the border from The Republic. Crossing the border was educational. 

Northern Ireland installed customs booths, yet another vainglorious move to dominate the "serfs." These were yet another insult to the Irish people. Now all trade had to be inspected and declared going either in or out from County Donegal to Derry and Northern Ireland. Long traffic jams and delays from the hands of the conquerors did not sit well with the Irish people. Plus the citizens were being questioned and searched to see if they were terrorists.

Peaceful protests were ignored by the crown. 

The answer from the Derrymen should have been anticipated. 

This is what the border crossing looks like today. We were told the guards "kept disappearing," and that no British soldier wanted to be assigned to these posts. 

Our bus made stops along the way for stretching our feet and photo opportunities. 

Johnny and I pose on a rock overlooking the ocean. 

Grianan of Aileach fort dates back to 1700 BC. The name means "Stony Palace of the Sun" in the auld dialect. Johnny looks down at us from the top. 

Dinny's driveway was long and narrow with no place for the bus to turn around at the top.

So we walked. 

Dinny with members of his band cordially greeted us as we arrived. 

There was a fine array of goodies before we started the music. 

We took time to smile at the camera. 

Bob & Dinny talk music. 

"Yes, I know, Dinny: It's all going to be in A, E, and D major. These are great sounding keys!"

Dinny and the band took off playing a wild reel while I just strummed along with them to get used to their style. 

There were probably 8 musicians in here, all playing impeccably intricate jigs and reels. 

The guitar player singing Anne Laurie brought tears to my eyes. Stunningly beautiful. I was in the epicenter of Irish folk music. 

An Irish accordion plays along with us. 

Dinny's Cottage.AVI

Dinny leads through a lively reel. 

The accordion player has switched to the harmonica, produced a haunting, wailing sound quite different from back home. 

Roughly two hours later the session came to an end. Dinny and some musicians posed with us outside his "wee hoose."

The bus took us to an old Irish inn. 

When we came in the door we saw a painting of Dinny on the wall. We learned that his likeness hangs on walls all over County Derry and beyond. 

We found wooden chairs carved from logs just inside the door.

We enjoyed fine Irish stew and more at their table. 

Dinny and I played several gigs together as part of the festival. 

When playing for dining crowds we slowed the tempos and played lilting ballads and gentle tunes.

Well, not always. But mostly. 

Dinny plays a rendition of Danny Boy. Of course everyone in Derrytown knows the history of this ancient song. 

This tribute poem was written by Johnny Anderson for Dinny. It is amazingly insightful and beautiful. 

The Fiddler


Here’s to all things great and small, who live and home in Donegal

From fairy trees to small banshees and Christmas rhymers one and all.

To sunny days and ancient ways to dialects that still remain.

The fiddler plays it just the same as when the first invaders came.


He teaches children how to bow and where the lilting tune should go

He lines them up so they can dance they really do put on a show.

Its all tradition handed down by word of mouth and so it goes

The master teaches all the songs, some are Jigs and some are slows.

 The men who taught the man to play are all since dead in Cockhill clay

But all the songs they played before are just the same right to this day.

History isn’t all in books, it’s in the children loud and clear

If Dinny hadn’t grabbed the torch there’d be no past for us to hear.


So here’s to all things great and small, who live and home in Donegal

From fairy trees to small banshees and Christmas rhymers one and all.

To sunny days and ancient ways and thanks to him they still remain

Dinny plays it just the same as when the first invaders came.


Copyright   S.O.C.A.N.  Johnny Anderson  

The Gig at the Country Club

Johnny and his band were scheduled to play at a country club, and I was scheduled to play during intermissions for them. 

We all drove out together, arriving about an hour before start time in the evening. The room was large and spacious with the bandstand along the wall in the middle. There were only two people in the place at the time, and when we walked in they smiled and waved to me. I'd never seen them before of course, but went to their table where they asked me to join them. 

It turned out they were fans of myself, and even owned every recording I'd ever made. They talked about how I played this tune or that tune and were very flattering. I felt honored to be so far across the sea and to hear people talking about me this way. Off to the side I could see Johnny and the others setting up the stage. 

But sitting there I started to fear we'd have no crowd for the concert because none of the other tables had anyone sitting at them. I let that thought go, however, and chatted with these people for probably half an hour. Then I thanked them and got up to find Johnny. What I saw amazed me. 

The entire room behind me was packed with people. Those I'd been sitting with were sitting alone. This puzzled me so I inquired about it. This is what I was told:

"Robbie, they're part of the goddamn Orangemen here. That guy marches in the Orange Day Parade, he's burned our people's cars for being too close to orange curbs, and he flaunts his 'superiority' in our faces. We're frankly amazed he's in this place. Certain people would like to get their hands on the bastard and he might not survive. They left him alone because you were sitting there with them. 

"It's not your fault, Robbie. We know you didn't know." 

I noticed the people were listening to me carefully when I played my first set. There were still nobody else sitting anywhere near them. When I finished my set I had a very warm reception from the audience, and by then those people were gone.

Once they left the other side of the room filled to capacity. 

Days Off: Trips to Town Donegal & Others 

In this section I am showing interesting places we visited during some of our days off. The Irish countryside is spectacularly beautiful. These photos are from County Donegal.

Rain is common in Ireland, which causes the fields to be a deep green color. Hence the name, 

"The Emerald Isle"

The yellow bushes are known as "Gorse."

Gorse is beautiful but rough to the touch.

Our trip to Donegal took us through Letterkenny.

About a year after returning home I was talking to a man about Ireland. He said he was born there. I asked where, and he told me it was a "Wee small town that I'd never heard of. Forget about it."

I pressed forward for this information until he finally and reluctantly told me, 

"Oh, all right. It's called Letterkenny. It's in County Donegal..." 

Of all things, we discovered Dinny McLaughlin playing for a wedding reception in the hotel! 

We crashed the party, but Johnny and I somehow felt we didn't fit in. The people, however, allowed us ragamuffins to remain, even feeding us goodies off the table.

We scooted down to the city of Donegal. This is one of their colorful town centers. I found a newspaper and took a moment to find out what's going on in the rest of the world.

Johnny found a pool hall where I took a few moments to go into my own little world. 

About six miles outside of Donegal we came to Bitty O' Barnes wee inn. 

Linda took the picture of Karen Anderson, myself, and our friend Luana. 

Inside we found their wee bar. The word "Tailte" (top center) is from the auld dialect and refers to the mythical Irish goddess of land, soil, and earth.

The inn had these most unusual and practical tables and chairs: three - legged.

With uneven floor surfaces, four legged chairs will never be level. They rock and tilt. But three legged tables & chairs are built for it and are totally comfortable. 

We tried to get our woodworker friends at home to build these. We had no success. 

Every place in Ireland has pictures of the ancestors (who might have actually started the inn) on the walls.

Daugh Village, Ballyliffin, Ireland

Daugh "Famine" Village is a museum. They have hundreds of displays, posters, dioramas, reenacted scenes using mannequins, and complete history of the area beginning in 1840 just before the infamous and inglorious potato famine. 

The buildings are such that you can wander from one to the next without ever going outside. Each building displays different parts of history. Some of them are brutal.

Several of the photos in here are taken from their website. When we walked through these buildings we felt we were in a different world. The sense of awe was overwhelming, and we thought it would be improper for us to be taking pictures. 

"Come on in" with us. "The Kettle's on the Boil."

The Daugh compound

"The Kettle's on the Boil"

A rooftop view of the village

This building is dedicated to the enforcement of customs inspections by "the invaders," a term we came to find quite common anywhere in Ireland. 

Diorama are all over the place. We saw one which depicted the invaders going far into Ireland to kill the priests and bring Ireland under Church of England rule. 

The word "Republican" refers to the 

Republic of Ireland, meaning all of Ireland except Northern Ireland. 

A Safe House Room

Funeral of a priest slain by the invaders. 

A painting apparently of meeting place or inn, but it doubles as a safe house. I'm guessing the green cabinet is more than what it appears.

A last look out at the sea.