“It’s a thing to see when a boy comes home.”
― John Steinbeck
With such a close connection to the Australian outback, we could never wish away the rain especially when so many of our family and friends are in the middle of one of the longest droughts in the country’s history. Liam and I had decided that whatever the weather was like in Europe we would embrace it wholeheartedly! Even with such good intentions if anyone told me I would be standing in the freezing rain at a music festival wearing a pair of borrowed gumboots, I would not have believed them. For anyone who knows me, being cold, wet and attending music festivals are not really my thing. Spoilt with amazing weather back in Brisbane I would scoff at the idea of exposing myself to the outdoors in anything other than ‘perfect’ weather but sometimes you just surprise yourself.
I loved every minute of it.
Our lovely hosts Linda and John had asked us to join them and their friend Rose for a day at the Valentia Isle Festival on the picturesque Valentia Island. Valentia Island is one of the most westerly points in Europe and the Festival itself overlooked the beautiful King of Kerry and its surrounding mountains. Not being sure what to expect, especially after Linda insisting I borrow a pair of gumboots, we walked up to the entrance. It was a far cry from the intense security of Australia’s music events – barely a police presence, no bag searches and barrel to drop any glass alcohol bottles into as we entered the main section of the Festival. There were kids playing on hay bales, young spirited hipsters, suburban couples and old time hippies all mingling together in a colourful cross section of the community. All with one thing in common, a love of music.
I clutched my Gin and Tonic as we danced our hearts out as cold rain spattered down. We sang along to tunes like ‘Is this love’ performed by Natty Wailer, formerly of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Natty took the crowd on a music journey of classic reggae music and spoke of hope and freedom and of love and liberation. Very fitting with the vibe of the festival as it really was a love-fest between the different mix of people who attended. We also discovered some amazing home grown music from Irish bands like Corner Boys (please look them up, you won’t be disappointed) and King Kong Company.
Not only did this festival have music but fantastic food as well. My favourite being the Eco Cafe Bus which is mobile cafe made from a vintage 1968 Bristol Lodekka Double Decker Bus which is run on recycled waste vegetable oil. They had seating upstairs and a kitchen downstairs full of delectable delights as well as selling hot water bottles for the odd cold festival goer.
There was another reason that made this day so special. Without even knowing it, Liam stood on Valentia Island singing along to Irish bands on the day his Grandmother was born there 103 years ago (Liam’s mum told us with great delight the following day on the phone when we told her where we had been). Elsie left Ireland in her early twenties to then never return to her native homeland. I wonder if she ever though her only Grandson would visit her birthplace over 100 years later on her birthday. Talk about a full circle moment.
We wanted to say a big thank you to Linda and John for being such fabulous hosts in Tralee. You made us try something new and we had an amazing day. We also wanted to thank Patrick and Eileen O’Shea for our wonderful stay at the O’Shea’s B&B in Cahersiveen Kerry. We are so lucky to have such a generous and welcoming family in Ireland.