Thursday 28 July 2011

04 - 'If ye can see the mountains, it's gonna rain .. !'

View of Ben Bulben, Co. Sligo, from Yeat's grave, Drumcliff.
February 04, 2009

I was down in Cork City a few years ago, now - playing at a gig with Rodney Cordner, among others - and there, in the middle of the street was a big bearded man, standing on a rostrum, wearing a kilt and, busking on the weirdest instrument I'd ever seen - the hurdy gurdy!

It looks a bit like a lute, (or an overgrown barrel mandolin), with six strings that you play by turning a handle on the end! Apparently, it's a very old European instrument, and like the Uilleann pipes - which Pol also plays very well - it has drone strings.

We invited Pol round to the venue we were playing at and he gave us all a demonstration of hurdy gurdy techniques - and we ended up swapping one of Rod's albums for Pol's, 'Tri agus tri'. We're gonna play a hurdy gurdy track from Pol later on in the show - and a song from Rodney, too.

I've been working on a wee property I bought in county Down and I got a bit of a foundering operating a mini-digger in the sleet and snow - so my voice was a bit croaky there for a while. A 'foundering', by the way, is like when a ship goes down in a storm - it founders. It means getting cold and wet out in the bad weather.

Actually, we've been having very untypical weather here in Ireland this winter. I currently live between two loughs - Belfast Lough and Strangford Lough - and I usually tell Canadian friends that, 'We don't do minus, here!' Well, this winter we've had at least 3 months of frost and ice, with a few absolute downpours in between.

Normally, it's pretty simple to forecast the weather here in Ireland: 'If ye can see the mountains, it's gonna rain - if ye can't, it's raining!'

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