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Day 9 Ireland: Music is everywhere

On the Dun Laoghaire bandstand

It was a day filled with music.

Of ukuleles, brass bands and traditional Irish music played on guitar and fiddle.

This tuneful day starts shortly after the family gathers for a full Irish breakfast with eggs, Irish bacon, white and black pudding, baked beans, Irish brown bread, tea and coffee.

Filled with calories and guilt, we decide a walk is in order. My brother-in-law Donal and his wife Siobhan suggest a walk along Dun Laoghaire Pier. Grainne and I readily agree and we take the short drive down from Dalkey to Dun Laoghaire.

As we approach the seaside town – known for its ferry service to England – we notice the crowds gathered in the People’s Park. Signs advertise the “Ukulele Hooley.” (Hooley being the Irish word for a party). On stage at the park are ukulele groups from all over the world. With the sun shining, cheerful families take in the music and sample the many food stands surrounding the park. Children (and some adults) dance to the music while others lie on their picnic blankets, close their eyes and let the day wash over them.

Dun Laoghaire Ukulele Hooley

Dun Laoghaire Ukulele Hooley

We cross the street to the pier, and walk the 2.6 kilometer return journey. I’m pleased to see more than a smattering of small red haired Irish children along the route, ensuring that another generation of ginger locks will represent the country for some years to come.

The sounds of a brass band come floating atop the sea breeze. The pier’s bandstand – only restored to its former glory a few years ago – is populated with band members blowing their trumpets, coronets, trombones, French horns and tubas. Songs old and new are performed. As we walk past on the way back to town Pharrell’s “Happy” appropriately fills the air.

We arrive back at Donal and Siobhan’s home to spend the afternoon with our nephew Barry, his wife Aisling and our niece Didi. Before we know it, the afternoon is gone and it’s time for dinner.

We meet up with our friends Jim and Stacey, who have been up to Dublin to check out the Guinness Storehouse, the home of the famous Irish black stout. We all pile in cars to drive to Glencullen for dinner at Johnnie Fox’s Pub.

Johnnie Fox's Pub

Johnnie Fox’s is known for a couple of things: 1) Being the highest pub in Ireland and 2) Having live music seven days a week. The pub is atop the Dublin Mountains. Narrow lanes with sharp, blind curves provide the way up those mountains – but once you’re there, you’re rewarded with an eclectic pub that dates back to 1798, friendly staff, good pints and a fine meal.

And of course, there’s traditional Irish music provided by a guitar and fiddle duo. I was worried that it would feel touristy, but there are no tourist buses. My Irish brother-in-law is singing along to many of the tunes and the crowd claps along happily. The male/female duo gives a shout out to the visitors from Atlanta, Georgia and entertains us for a couple of hours.

Traditional Irish music at Johnnie Fox's

Our time in Dalkey is rapidly approaching its end. Our visit with Donal, Siobhan and the rest of the family feels like those tunes that we caught on the ocean breeze this morning - Sweet, satisfying and far too fleeting.

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