Got back to Dublin the following Monday, showered off the mud in the hostel, rested, went to meet Dennis at his hostel.
We walked through Dublin talking about being in love with Dublin, understanding why James Joyce wanted his heart buried here, how the buildings and bridges and street speak in some way that we recognise in our blood. Dennis has an Irish surname, an Irish parent. My ancestors are Irish further back - can our DNA remember it here, we wonder? Stop by on our way to the International Bar to hear some buskers with pipes, bodhrun, fiddle: and nearly cry or dance or something of that overwhelming nature with the passion of it.
We have been invited to the International Bar, by poet Stephen James Smith, who runs the Glor Sessions (glór means: voice, sound or noise) a weekly spoken-word, poetry and music night. Stephen welcomes us, buys us Guinness.
'The Girls' from the Picnic turn up (almost unrecognisable in mud-free attire) with hiusbands and friends. They are here to give us support and to enjoy the show - I can see how tired they are after the weekends exploits. These are women who know how to enjoy their drink! (And they made sure that I did too.)
It was an excellent evening of words and tunes, and a spirited audience in the beautifully built International Bar with its wooden floors and polished, old oak bar-tops and beams throughout, and frame-mirrored walls .
What I especially love about Irish audiences, is that they use their ears to actually listen, not just to hear things with. In England, or at least in the south as it is familiar to me: if there's a run of funny poets at the open mike, and a serious one comes along, or a nature poet, or a gentle voice - the energy often drops; sometimes turns chilly. The literary poet is judged differently for their capabilities than the sometimes less literary, entertaining one. The symbiotic relationship of energy between audience and performer, fails somewhat.
In Ireland, they pay attention to what's being said with... easy to say 'greater respect', but I wonder if it's more than good manners, sensitivity. It's as if they just have more appetite for the spoken word. (Even at the Electric Picnic when I took to the stage slightly ill and distinctly lacking pizazz - a man in the audience spoke to me softly afterwards, said he's especially liked the one that...and so on. He had really listened.) One person in the audience, a man called Gerry, befriended Dennis and I with much enthusiasm. If I had had any more Guinness to drink, not only would I have not been able to speak my poems but would probably have burst into a heartfelt rendition of Irish nationalist folk songs. (Not that I know the words more than a few lines of 'the Wind That Blows the Barley'.)
Stephen James Smith compered with panache, and shared poems too. Enda Reilly's music was especially excellent, and I bought his CD 'Oxygen 21', (the title track of which has now become a fond favourite with friends and family.)
I've never had an encore for my poetry until that night. Dennis, who took to the stage after me, received one also. So many compliments, every one of them truly meant. We have both been invited back anytime.
I am interested in finding any ways I can possibly muster the funding to do so. A poetry tour of Ireland is definitely somewhere in my future plans.
Dennis and I walked back to our hostels, blowing kisses to the Liffey, high as kites and in love with Dublin all over again.
We said goodbye for now; promising to be partners in rhyme again some vague time in the near future - our separate ferries sailing back to Blighty on the cold grey sea in the morning.