Monday, May 11

Uisneach Fire Festival 2015

Claire Roche and myself as Woodland Bard were booked to be last to perform at the Heritage Tent on the Hill Of Uisneach, for the Uisneach Fire Festival. This had been postponed from an awful wet, windy and cold Saturday, the weekend before.

So I arrived before Claire, but not knowing at which part of the festival site I had landed.


Though it does not look like it from this pic, there were frequent sunny intervals and it was quite warm. I arrived about 2 pm. Not people here yet. Wher I am parked her is behind the main stage tent.

To have another look around from where I was parked ...


Not a very welcoming response, as always seems to be the story when I get to festivals. As usual, there was the 'official' festival immigration procedures that is a frustrating run-around because, as usual, there seemed to be no record of me existing, but eventually found filed in the wrong place, under Z I think :-)

Feeling irritated by this and a list of 'do not do this' rules recited to me I parked where I could get a space and ventured. Found the public entrance and its guards first ...


I discovered the Heritage Tent nearby, but we are not listed yet as there were several good folks on before us.


And this is the performing area we were to be in later ...


Found the man in charge of here who said he was to be at our service when needed ... but I hardly saw him after that.

So far, I had met several Facebook friends but had been an ugly grump due to the testy arrival experience. Stuff mentioned in emails inviting us and arranging for us had not happened so I was flustered an knew Claire would not be happy.

Time to get focused an present again. I could see what I guessed was Carmel's Sound Yurt by the Lough Lugh .. So that was my next destination. passing the brass band resting up ...


and the sculpture dancing duo in the Lough ...






So I see this sign ... 


Into Carmel's yurt ...


and greeted by that familiar and always welcome smile ...


Her lovely friend Silbhia, also preparing to relax too, was there ...


I meet up with these two, once, maybe twice in a year, and it's like three 6 year olds going out to play.

Carmel settled in to her sound instruments ...


There Carmel stayed and served those who visited her for over 5 hours. I was there about half hour though, then thoroughly relaxed and centred again,. I thought I would explore until Claire arrived.

One big all day feature was the constant horse spirit and medicine here.


Let's share some pics of that ...












and the sculpture on the hill where we met the horses ...




Looking from this sculpture this lovely otherworldly view ...


I then ventured to look at the Bealtaine Fire site ...


This is truly an otherworldly feature ...




and great views from here too ...


Back to the main site to look around, and met more Facebook friends ...


By now, after a session in Carmel's sound yurt I was back to my normal calm and wonder seeking self :-)

The Tir na Nog stage looked interesting ...


but I never got to see anything there ..

Here it is in relation to the festival site ...


Heritage tent way up behind, not sure what white tent to right is but main stage off pic well to the right.

Main stage line up ...


... and every live band and performer was superb, great choices.

Today, you cannot be a videographer without your video camera being on a drone ...

so here is one about to be launched.


Bar had a session going by a clever fake fireplace :-)


Main stage starting to fill up for the start of the live shows ...


The festival was fast changing from a couple of hundred people here to a couple of thousand and they keeps coming ...

Clair arrived, did not have the festival immigration problems I had but wanted a coffee, and these were the only lads on site who sold it ...


Very proud of their coffee machine they were, the latest iBarista :-)


Claire said the coffee was actually great :-)

I must say at this point how wonderful and fair priced the catering was. I did not get pictures, but good nourishing meals were available for around €5 to €7. Well done festival people and food people for that! :-)

Claire wanted to be here in time to see Galway lass Mary Coughlin,


and in the main tent also met with the always beautiful Tina Rock ...


At this point things went a bit downhill for us for the next hour.

Coming up to the time it was for us to perform there was a lot of resistance against the promise of us being able to drive up to the stage and unload Claire's antique Erard Harp.

Claire has always insisted that I do not book her into a festival unless the gig is under cover, there is transport access close to the performance area and that we are paid at least expenses and a bit more if possible. The insisted parking was far away from the venue and it started raining.

At that point the festival 'officials' before very official and tempers were lost. In the end a team of lads did help us out. Unfortunately there was no time or provisions allowed between the act before and the tuning up and prep of harps.

It took awhile to get harps going and the audience did not hang around. What we were mainly left with for awhile was a few heckling drunks and some loud children. So add that to an out of tune harp, a stage that was about 2 feet square and a single microphone for two harps and two voices we were a bit in the do-do for awhile.

Being a bit upset with this it took awhile for us to settle down and get in gear. Both of us lost our voices, Claire played the wrong tunes to the poems, and sometimes stopped in the middle of poems or cut her own songs in half thinking nobody was listening anyway. I also put the stories to the wrong poems.

I was also thrown at the start when I asked how many tree huggers were present and just one drunk put up his hand and shouted "Me, I'm a carpenter!"

I was so used to the USA audiences where everyone put up their hand to that question.

However, we did get going. Claire sang Sitting I|n A Green Field and Fields Of Fasseroe as good as at any performance. Hazel worked well, Hawthorn sort of OK and I think Quirt The Apple went ok, despite some stop starts and out of synchs ...


Thank you Carmel Diviney for that pic during Apple :-) 

Desppite what I thought were performance woes, people came up to us complimenting and saying how passionate it all was and how they were moved. 


Let me now leave you with this sequence of pics from the fire, including the fire road from the Festival area to the fire. It was also amazing to se several multi colour lit up video drones buzzing around. How they did not bump into each other is a miracle ....












I now have mixed feelings about festivals like this but will come back to that another time.

At this point its a huge applause for the ideas and arrangements here, double applause for the relentless volunteering staff who also had to return here the next day in torrential rain to clean up and dismantle. 

I will come back here and say more soon. But for now hope you enjoyed the report and photos.

... and then it was time for me to leave, after a wonderful monster size falafel wrap for €5 :-) 

And listening to a few tunes from the amazing Moxie who completed the main stage shows.