Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All Ireland Champion!!!

We've had a very fun and exciting week traveling to Ireland for the Fleadh Cheoil (All Ireland/world championships of Irish music) competition with Haley's friend, Sofia, and her mother, Kate. We were not going to go to the Fleadh this year...we thought Haley would take a year off this year since she will still be in the under 12 age group next year and we couldn't afford for more than two of us to go but my husband did not want Haley and I to go alone. Things changed after Sofia took 1st at the MidAtlantic Fleadh in under 12 slow airs and qualified to go. After a lot of discussion at home and through emails, Kate and I came up with a plan to travel together with the girls splitting costs when we could and keeping each other company.

So last Tuesday night we flew off to Dublin from JFK. We flew through the night, landed in Dublin at 9am then took a bus into the city for the day. Our first stop was the Drury Hotel where we checked in and dropped off our luggage. We then walked through the city, did a little shopping, walked through Dublinia, and St. Stephen's Green. We had dinner and brown bread ice cream.

Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral

Viking rune rubbings of our names

Naughty girl
Swans at St. Stephen's Green
 After a very loud night in the little sleep. We headed back to the airport, picked up the car, and drove toward Derry with a quick stop at Knowth to see the passage tombs in the rain. We had a few moments of laughter (and terror...LOL) in the car driving on the left side of the road on the tiny little streets in the Ireland countryside but we made it safely to Derry. We then had some difficulty finding our B&B...again on tiny one car wide roads in the country. (Thank goodness no one was coming the other way!!!) But our host came out to find and rescue us and we found ourselves at the most beautiful B&B we've been in yet (Five Oaks B&B).

The next rainy morning we had a delicious full Irish breakfast, the girls practiced, then our hostess showed us how to get to the city and where to park. We walked across Peace Bridge, walked the walls around Derry, and saw all the sights. The girls did a little busking for pocket money then we found some dinner and went back to the B&B to relax.
Painted Samurai at Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Walking the walls around Derry

Fleadh in Derry 2013

Saturday was competition day. We woke early and had an early breakfast then headed to Ulster University to watch our friends in the under 15 division before Haley's competition. Haley's 1st competition was at noon. There were 14 really talented kids competing but Haley played her very best and came away with 1st in solo fiddle. The under 12 slow air competition was set to begin at 1:30 but the solo fiddle did not finish until 2:15 so as soon as we were finished, we rushed into the adjacent building for slow airs. We arrived when there were only two before Haley and Sofia (who were scheduled to be 11 and 12 out of 14). Haley and Sofia played really well. To our amazement, Haley took the trophy (1st place) in under 12 slow airs as well! It is an accomplishment to win an All Ireland title in one event but to win in two is very rare.

We ran from slow airs to see the under 18 duos compete because friends were competing in that then we rushed across campus to see if we could catch Haley's friend, Emily, competing in under 12 harp slow airs. We entered the room just as they called Emily's name! After Emily played, Haley said, "That was so beautiful I could not even breath!" We waited around for the results and Emily placed 1st! (The girls brought home three All Ireland cups to the CCE Delaware Valley!)

It was 8pm by the time we finished watching competitions and we were unable to find a restaurant without a huge wait (we heard there were 30, 000 people at the Fleadh!) so we grabbed a bite at the local supermarket then went back to the B&B to eat it.

The All Ireland Champions with friends and siblings
Sunday was a more relaxing day. We got up and ate our Irish breakfast then headed into town to see Haley's friend in the under 18 fiddle slow air and another friend in the Senior solo fiddle competitions. After the senior competition, the videographer from Comhaltas (the group that runs the Fleadh) asked Haley to play with the Senior All Ireland winner so he could record them together. We then had dinner at a restaurant with the best food and the girls, with their friend, Joanna, busked for awhile before we headed in for the night.

Haley performing with the Senior All Ireland Champion
Sofia, Haley, and Joanna

Monday was an early rise morning. We had to drive back to Dublin, 3 hours, to turn in our rental car before noon. We went to check into our hotel and then took a bus into the city for a walk around Trinity College, shopping, dinner and some more brown bread ice-cream.


Tuesday was our travel home day. We ran into friends at the airport and everyone was on the same flight. It was a bumpy ride home but we made it safely!

Haley with her fiddle teacher, Brian Conway
                       Here's Haley with her very proud teacher and her two All Ireland trophies!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Weekend Ramblings...

I'm thinking I may make a weekly post on our weekend music exploits because I am getting tired of coming up with titles for them all.

This weekend was chock full of music (of course). Friday afternoon on our way to New York for her fiddle lesson, I asked Haley if she got tired of driving all over the place and all the performances she does. She seemed shocked I would think that. She said those are the parts of her music that are the most fun and she wants more. So we drove to New York Friday for a late night fiddle lesson then did a sleep over so she could meet her friend, Sofia, in the city on Saturday.

The girls had busking plans for Washington Square Park. They are determined to help pay their part for their trips to Ireland next week. The day started out not looking very promising. It was raining softly most of the morning (as you can tell from the picture below) so they found a spot under the big arch which provided shelter for their fiddles and wonderful acoustics. They sounded like they were mic'ed.

They did pretty well there then we packed up when they got tired of playing. They enjoyed running over to check out the progress of the sand artist creating his work not far away (the guy on his knees behind them in this picture). They left him a tip because he was very nice to them. Sofia accidentally lost her bow down the grate in front of them and he came over and lifted it so she could retrieve it unharmed. (Whew! The perils of busking!)

The sun eventually came out and the girls took a break for ice-cream while sitting near the fountain. Here they are showing off their green tinged tongues.

Washington Square Park

Cute squirrel.
Sunday was what has become our annual fundraiser for Haley and her friend Emily for their trip to Ireland. A local pub, Lazy Lanigans, allows us to come in and take over their restaurant for an afternoon. The kids provided music, people came and danced, and we had a silent auction of 22 items and baskets donated by friends, supporters, and local businesses. We have done a fundraiser for the last five years and each year I am overwhelmed by the number of people who come out to support the girls.

We put a call out for musicians this year and it seemed all of them had other plans for the day so Haley and Dylan provided the ceili music all on their own. They did a great job...kept a strong, fast beat for the dancers and stoppped and started the music on time!

The Ceili Band.

Dancers doing The Plain Set.

Haley and Emily thanking everyone for coming out.

Donations from the AOH groups in PA.
The fundraiser was very successful. We couldn't have done it without all the people who donated and/or attended. We especially couldn't have done it without help from the people below. John and Jackie Kelly have become like Haley's adoptive grandparents. Jackie had back surgery a couple months ago but she worked hard those months, not only to recover, but to put together items (many which she donated herself) and coordinated the entire silent auction for us. The auction was an amazing success and she's an amazing person! We can't possibly thank her enough for all she does for us.

We are now on the countdown for our trip to Ireland this year! We are looking forward to traveling with Sofia and her mother and seeing a new part of the island. Go Derry!