In 2015, the Martin Gilmore Trio, played a tour in the west of Ireland. Our good friend John Nyhan booked several shows for us all around Country Cork and beyond. It was a real bonding trip for the three of us. We made great friends, played a lot of fun music, and came home with a lot of memories. One of the places we played on that tour is a little town on the end of the Beara peninsula called Allihies.
Allihies is way out there in a very remote part of Ireland. Yes, even though Ireland is a small country, there are remote parts. It used to be a mining town once upon a time. But when the mines closed in Allihies many of the miners ended up in Montana, and some ended up in the town of Ring in County Waterford (another one of our favorite places to go).
The roads in that part of Ireland have not been updated. They are narrow and bumpy. All roads in Ireland are narrow by American standards, but this road is even narrow by Irish standards. We squeezed past trucks and tractors, and crawled along a beautiful barren coast road, through treeless landscape.
Distances are deceiving in Ireland, as is driving time. Having grown up in Wyoming, a one-hour drive to get somewhere is common, and usually fairly relaxing. Most of the roads in Wyoming are wide, and gently curve one way or the other, when they aren't going in a straight line. In Ireland, you have to focus and rive for every second of that hour. The road is lined with stone walls, often with no shoulder or emergency pull off. Curves are blind, and many times there will be stopped cars, slow tractors, herds of sheep or cattle, or just folks walking and you'll have to slam on the brakes to avoid becoming an accordion. That's regular driving in Ireland. Four-hour trips are exhausting, an eight-hour trip would be nearly impossible (except on a motorway.)
The drive to Allihies from Cork is only a little more than two hours, but the drive is even harder than normal. So, we left early and made our way through beautiful west Cork. One of our friends told us, before we went to Allihies, that the landscape looked like a place where the dinosaurs still roamed. I think that is a perfect descriptor. one side is windblown grassy hills, strewn with gray boulders, and the other side is the endless Atlantic Ocean. You certainly feel very small on that drive. I think anyone would ponder their place in the world sandwiched there between those extremes.
Coming over the hill into Allihies, opens up a broad vista of beautiful islands, craggy, treeless mountains, polygonal fields, and a quaint town nestled along the coast. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, even to this day after all my travels around Egypt and the Mediterranean.
We played a show at the mining museum, then had a great night of music at the local pub, and we all stumbled back to our room at the Hostel before continuing around on that same road to Cahersiveen in County Kerry.
I wrote this tune and it immediately brought back the memories of Allihies. If you ever can, you should go there.