I am very warmly received and the concert goes really well. The only fly in the ointment is my damaged knee. After a few songs on the high stool, I realise that I should have opted for an ordinary chair. When I rectify this for the second half, suddenly everything is twice as enjoyable; it’s remarkable how a little discomfort will colour the delivery. I remind the audience that if they have any request, other than Strangers In The Night or The Fields of Athenry, I will gladly oblige.
There is an immediate response from Jack. ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ he yells. Doing Whiskey in the dressing room is not a problem, but on stage??
“Would you like to sing it yourself, Jack?” says I, trying to save my bacon.
When you’re trying to get someone from the audience to sing, there is only so much cajoling that an audience will tolerate. After a minute or two, if the member of the audience being press-ganged doesn’t show, they lose patience, and everyone is left feeling slightly embarrassed.
Happily for me, this five-year old is not one to hide his talent under a bushel and at the second time of asking, he confidently makes the long march to the stage. I help him to climb on the high stool and with his little legs a dangle, he launches into ‘Whiskey’, much to the delight of his whooping father and mother and the audience. It’s a lovely moment that moves the gig into that special place…. thanks Jack.
After the gig we adjourn to The Abbey Tavern. Someone calls me aside and asks me did I check out the stone outside the door.
“I didn’t notice any stone,” I say.
He continues as though I hadn’t spoken.
“Well that stone is there in memory of Paddy Hannan”
Paddy Hannan was one of Quin’s more intrepid sons. He left for Australia in the late eighteen hundreds and went prospecting for gold with two other Irishmen Dan Shea and Tom Flanagan, in a place called Kalgoorlie. Within a few months they’d hit the pay dirt. Paddy reported discovering 8 pounds of gold nuggets to the warden in Coolgardie and within a matter of days 700 gold diggers were frantically pegging out mining claims around Kalgoorlie. By 1903 the population of Kalgoorlie had swollen to 30.000 and boasted 93 hotels and 8 breweries. Unfortunately for Paddy, the breweries were the death of him. Four years after his prodigious find, he was found dead in the street from alcohol poisoning.
The following morning I check out the stone. I give it a rub and wonder did Paddy recall the Fair of Spancilhill as he lay in the gutter. Next stop Ballitore, Co. Kildare.