Hello again from the magical Burren of Clare after the blurred surrealit of a very special summer for me on both sides of the Atlantic.
Last night I drank a gorgeously seductive single malt from the Isle of Islay with a genuine Celtic species of Lazarus and, this morning, poignantly, saw our swallows gathering on the telephone wires in chattering cohorts as they prepare to flit away our glorious summer.
And on the radio young mothers were talking about the agonies connected with sending their babies out to school for the first time tomorrow.
Life goes on inexorably, does it not, and I have so much to tell ye that I am not quite certain where to begin. But I will make a start anyway.
I quite frankly forget some of the yarns I sent over to ye since the start of the summer, but the top priority for you less regular readers of this space is that the lovely Dutch Nation and I are no longer the owners of Maisie's Cottage. One of you readers is the new owner, is in occupation, is a lovely man who I've already been informed fits the district and its good people as warmly as a well-cut waistcoat and, as I've also been bluntly informed by former friends in the Honk, adds more to the local society than I ever did. They pull no punches those lads.
We, meantime are not yet able to move into our new home in Killaloe because there are sitting tenants there and the legal eagles still circling over the deal as legal eagles do. Ironically, and most enjoyably too, we are now living under another thatched roof in a rent-a-cottage cluster in the gentle town of Corofin where almost 20 years ago now our Clare adventure began.
It is a kind of serene Limboland on the rocky edge of the wondrous Burren, the townspeople are even more welcoming and warm than before, there is craic and music and merriment every night, Doolin and the matchmaking town of Lisdoonvarna are both only minutes away down some of the most scenic roadeens in all of Ireland and, when it falls time for us to leave again, for sure I will find it as gut wrenching an experience as it was to leave Maisie's behind. I will keep ye posted.
Lest it did not appear before now, I again have to express my sheer joy at being a part of the unique Irish Arts Week in East Durham in the Catskills at the start of the summer. It was mighty at every level possible and Reidin O'Flynn, the director, and Donal Gallagher and their associates can be proud of themselves for truly creating an Irish week featuring the cream of the musicians of their generation brought over from Ireland but also, incredibly, surrounding them with a lively community of listeners and participants from all over the states whose quality and energy would be difficult to find nowadays here at home.
My learned daughter-in-law Aine, a UCG Irish language lecturer, surprised me recently with the information that some of the richest and rarest old Gaelic dialects are to be found today in Springfield, Massachusetts because of the weight of immigration to that area from Donegal in the Famine era.
I felt that the Catskills audiences (including many of you readers) was just as rich and rare. I believe both the entertainment and the atmosphere surpassed even this year's Willie Clancy Week in Clare, and that takes some doing.
During a noble week I especially relished the exquisite balladry of Mai Hernon and Robbie O'Connell, the artistry of Conal O'Grada, the brilliance of Edel Fox and Jackie Daly, the yarns of the one they call Timmy the Brit, the hospitality of Mike Diggins and Denis Winter and many more.
I did not want to come back home when the week was over it was that special. Well done all round.
And now to my Lazarus story. You see, what happened was that my multi-gifted old friend PJ Curtis of Kilnaboy and all the worlds of music, was readying himself for the premiere of his eagerly awaited film A Nightingale Falling at the Galway Film Fleadh a month ago when he began to feel unwell and weak, went to hospital and before you could utter the word nightingale, as he described it to me the other evening, he is in the cardiac theater attached to a thousand tubes and his heart has been removed from his chest altogether and for four hours top-class cardiac mechanics are fitting it with four new valves and other plumbing before returning it to his chest again and stapling up his sternum.
As we sampled his sinfully seductive single malt from Islay however the formidable author, broadcaster, film producer, musicologist and you-name-it across the arts, related how he walked out of the hospital only five days later, is rapidly recovering, is again walking exercise miles daily around the base of his beloved Mullaghmore and is now looking forward to seeing a premiere screening of his film for the first time. You cannot keep a good man down.
I will try and remember that in the Indian Summer weeks ahead in this enchanting Limboland of the Burren.