A group of French musicians came to Ireland to attend and participate in the Armagh
Pipers' Club festival. During their five day sojourn they stayed in the very comfortable
and attractive Emy Lake House and travelled each day to Armagh and other places.
They performed in various venues including St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, and had
a very enjoyable time. On Sunday night, their final night in Emy Lake House, they
decided to play some music for their hosts. They were delighted when Geraldine decided
to invite some local Irish musicians to join the 'session'. It turned out a great
night of entertainment and a sharing of culture taking it in turns to lead the way
while the others joined in. They performed a couple of their dance routines and of
course we showed them how to do the Walls of Limerick and Shoe the Donkey. Ballads
(including The Hole in the Bucket) and music, both Irish and French and sometimes
a mixture of both just kept going and all the while the French visitors had laid
out a huge variety of food and tasty bites. The Host also supplied Irish stew and
tea/coffee. Bernie Sherry would have been delighted with the Emyvale Ceili!! The
French party comes from Central France in the great Sanscerre wine district and they
play together as a group. One of the members, Philip, is a piper and so was invited
to the Festival and the band came too. The instruments they played were: violin,
Bass, guitar, accordion, Pipes (very like our Uileann Pipes) and a Vielle but better
known to us as a Hurdy Gurdy. Philip is also a Sanscerre winemaker from his own vineyard.
It was a wonderful occasion and gave glimpses of what it was like in the old days
when neighbours gathered in a house and a travelling musician/poet/singer who was
passing that way would join the company and they sang, danced, played music and drank
some of the home brew and then told some tall tales and all was terrific entertainment.
That all happened when we had strong communities. We wish the visitors a safe journey
back home and perhaps they will call this way again and we can have another session.
Thanks to all who were there and those who contributed to the entertainment and of
course our sincere thanks to Host Geraldine. However that was all well timed as it
was Victor's special birthday and that was celebrated on the night. He received his
Cake, blew out the candle and was a perfect man-of-the-house. Congratulations to
him and may he have health and happiness for decades to come.