Sunday, August 20, 2006


I just got back from the Isle of Skye
I'm not very big and I'm awfully shy
The lassies say as I go by
"Donald, where's your troosers?"

The wind blow high and the wind blow low
Down the streets in my kilt I go
All the lassies say "Hello,
Donald where's your troosers?"
-Donald, Where's Your Troosers?, Irish traditional

So yesterday, immediately after reassuring someone on AIM that I was not, in fact, avoiding them, I had to rush off (oh the irony! It almost killed me--but it failed, as always) to get in the car and drive with my family three hours to Milwaukee to go to Irish Fest.

On arrival, we met up with my Aunt Nancy (not a real aunt--my parents' good friend from college, Zeke and I call her aunt) and some of her friends. Nancy Is as much of an Irish music/culture freak as my brother and I.

We immediately went to a show by the Kottars, a great traditional Celtic group from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. They did some great jigs and reels, but they also had some really strong ballads and other songs. At one point they did a song called "I'm Ready for the Storm," and the sun cam out. One of them pointed this out, and another said "Aye, reverse psychology."

Then we went to see Malachy McCourt (brother of Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes). Malachy is a great comic/storyteller. He told one story about a friend of his who was very quick on his feet. "And one day, Danny got on the train. And there were no seats left except one, and an Englishman had his dog in it. So the conductor says, 'This man's been working all day, and he's hot and tired, and could he have a seat?'

"So the Englishman moves his dog, and says, ' A sad day it is when a dog must move for an Irishman.' And ol' Danny sits, and he says, 'That's quite a nice dog you got there, what kind is it?' And the Enlgishman, not givin' 'im an inch, says, 'He's half Irishman, and half baboon.' And so Danny says, 'Well b'jasus, he's related to both of us!'"

After that, we got some good Irish cofee and sat and talked a little while. My brother and I went off to do a little shopping, got some candy at the Irish candy stall (I swear the candy they have in Ireland and England is a hundred times better than what you can get over here). My brother, who was wearing his Got Kilt? shirt, and his kilt, got some comments, while I had a couple people look at my shirt and go, "The same to you!" (I was wearing my shirt that says "POG MO THOIN", Irish for Kiss My "Boxers".)

An aside here, because I have no better place to put it: the crowds at Irishfest are always interesting. You have the yuppies who go either because they think Irish-ness is just so cool, or because it's something to do, or because they go to all the cultural things, some combination thereof. Then there are the drunks, who hang around Irishfest because a) that's where all the beer is, or b) because they love Irish music, and that's where all the beer is. Then there are the, er, geeks, the types who love Irish music and culture, and go mainly for the music and cultural stuff. (Zeke and Nancy and I fit into this one.) There are other catgories I could talk about, but I won't for fear of rambling. ;)

We met back up with the adults breifly, before heading to the other side of the park. Our destination was a great CD booth that had seemingly all the greatest Celtic bands; I got a CD by Ashley MacIsaac that I had been looking for but previously been able to find for sale only in Canada; also Flogging Molly's latest, CD/DVD combo--the CD has live versions of some of their songs, that are faster and better than the versions already released.

We were right by the Celtic Rock stage, and got to see the last three or four songs by Young Dubliners. They're a pretty good band, as I knew already, and even better live.Then we got supper (typically unidentifiable Irish fare), and settled down by the Celtic Rock stage to wait for this band Zeke wanted to check out based on their name, Enter the Haggis. I thought the name was great, but expected them to be typical Celtic punk--Pogues knockoffs that weren't quite as good.

This was not the case.

They started out with a great fiddle riff, and added hard guitar chords, that sounded really cool without being obnoxious. They did a couple more sets of rocked-up jigs and reels, sounding like they took some cues from Wolfstone, but more ragged--they sounded more punky, while Wolfstone is more rock. Plus the pipes are different.

Next came what was probably my favorite thing all day: they did the best version I've ever heard of "Donald, Where's Your Troosers?" In the middle the piper told this long story about how last night he had partied a little too hard, and almost drove a van. But no, (he said) that would have been ("Seriously now, folks,") irrespnsible. So he did the responsible thing, and stole someone's bike. Then he thought the Milwaukee Police were after him, but it was really the fiddle player. "What seems to be the trouble, officer?" "Well, sir, you're not wearing any pants." (Kilt joke there, teehee). And in explanation, the piper starts singing the forst verse of "Donald, Where's your Troosers?" (see above).

So to cut it short ('cuz otherwise I'll go on all night), Enter the Haggis is awesome. Check them out if you get a chance.

After that, we went to Gaelic Storm and caught their last half-dozen songs. Then we wandered around for a while, trying to meet up with the others in the thronging crowd. We finally did, and it was time to go. I hated to leave, but was most glad I went. All in all, it was a bloody good day.


rachel e said...

Sounds like you had a great time!

You got to meet Malachy McCourt?? That's too cool. Was he blonde? I always imagined him blonde.

Also, you have AIM? What's your address?

Ethan said...

Malachy was white-haired-- he's kinda old. He very well might have used to be blonde.

My AIM is DefenderofNee. AIM me anytime. ;-)

(But if I don't respond it's 'cuz another family member didn't log off... *rolls eyes at family members*

Bob son of Bob said...

it's traditional scottish ya dim wit.

Ethan said...

Och, bugger off, yeh blighter!

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Wow. That's some book right there, man. Sounds like you sure had a great time at the there Irshfest of your's. Have I told you before I'm a wee bit Scotch-Irish? Probably.

I know you aren't country's greatest fan, but have ye heard and do ye like Garth Brook's "Irelend"?

They say mother earth is breathing
With each wave that finds the shore
Her soul rises in the evening
For to open twilights door
Her eyes are the stars in heaven
Watching o'er us all the while
And her heart it is in Ireland
Deep within the Emerald Isle

We are forty against hundreds
In someone else's bloody war
We know not why were fighting
Or what we're dying for
They will storm us in the morning
When the sunlight turns to sky
Death is waiting for its dance now
Fate has sentenced us to die

Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone
I am reaching out won't you take my hand
I'm coming home Ireland

Oh the captain he lay bleeding
I can hear him calling me
These men are yours now for the leading
Show them to their destiny
As I look up all around me
I see the ragged tired and torn
I tell them to make ready
'Cause we're not waiting for the morn

Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone
I am reaching out won't you take my hand
I'm coming home Ireland

Now the fog is deep and heavy
As we forge the dark and fear
We can hear their horses breathing
As in silence we draw near
There are no words to be spoken
Just a look to say good-bye I draw a breath and night is broken
As I scream our battle cry

Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone
I am reaching out won't you take my hand
I'm coming home Ireland
Yes I am home Ireland

We were forty against hundreds

colin VII said...

to the person on everything but skates: I have a new blog and ID, so don't try 'n track me and you're one of the main courses! so come visit it my poor junkie, it's aboutstrange blogs I've found. enjoy!


Ethan said...

Aaron: Och aye, I knew ye were one of them bloody trooblemakers. ;-)

I had never heard of that song before it showed up on your "Songs You Don't get Tired of List" on the HT forums the other day. The words are pretty cool; now I shall have to track it down and see whether they butcher Irish music as do most pop-y songs with Irish themes these days....

Colin: I am not going to dignify that with a response. :P Except the one I put... on your... blog.....

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Aye, I still wear William's Orange on your St. Patty's Day.

"Ireland" it's not "pop-y" in the first place, it's country music with an Irish theme. B)

Ethan said...

Oooooooooooooh, that's low...

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Yay for Sir William of Orange!

Ethan said...

*Shoots Sir Darth and his stupid Presby allies*