The Gig Report
The Lake House
From Chapter IV
It was about half past three in the afternoon the bass player Oliver Tobin called for me in his white English reg Zephyr vi car.
We travelled on to Macroom where we met up with John Lehane and Finbarr Ring, the other two members of the band,
The Big Four,
Our eventual destination would be the Lake House dance hall, in the Beara peninsula West Cork. what a day to be alive and what a happy bunch we are.
Finbarr would have the recently converted horse box trailer.
all packed with the main equipment. p a system. drums. keyboards. mike stands.
The personal instruments. we would bring. and another repacking began.
The guitars accordions saxophones and fiddle. bottles of beer. and. ah yes the sandwiches. now we are ready. and off we go.
Towards Ballvourney, on to Coolea, out the top of Coom, down through Kilgarvan. finally into Kenmare.
Turning left at the end of the new one way system out the road for a half a mile over the new golden gate bridge look alike. and a sharp right. then along the coast road towards Ardgroom.
The rolling Atlantic ocean on our right pushing up the Kenmare river. and on our left the Slieve Miskish Mountains. reaching up to heavens lowland.
A good few miles further on somewhere in what could only be described as the no-mans land of lost.
The Lake House dance hall stands like monumental run down cow house.
Grey plastered walls adorne green algae and moss growing from the rising damp of the ground.
The red rusting corrigated iron roof buckled by frost and sun.
This dance hall is ran by two elderly bachelors. Joe and Frank
O Shea. both in their early 70 ' s
They live in a tiny little cottage on an acre of ground, Joe and his older brother Frank pass through their life gracefully.
The older of the two, Joe is the owner of all the lakes. and several acres of land. all this property he bought. from the fledgling republic free state. when no-one wanted the responsibility of administering title,
The rights of all this property at the time could be had for a shilling.
Joe took advantage of it.
After the foundation of the new state of Ireland had evolved,. the ownership of the land. lakes. and waters. became his.
Joe is a small rugged man. walks with a pronounced elevation across his back. his weather beaten face, creased with a million lines in random order. betray his welcoming smile and bright wide grey blue eyes.
Along with the help of his brother Frank he runs a dance hall, a boat and pony rental business.and finds time to help out erecting tents when the backpackers get a little tipsy.
Fishermen flock here year after year, and the area becomes inundated by Dutch, German and some French tourists.
most are backpackers.
All along the lake side leading from the road, is a mini tent city of varying shades and colours,
Local farmers do a nice trade in B n B, as the fishermen, can afford this luxury.
Its a wonderful experience for both fishermen and backpackers, once the weather holds up.
Joe and Frank have nice quite ponies for rent , backpackers go pony riding, up the hill sides leading towards the blue hue'd mountains,
In lines of two and three at a time.
Down in the distance they can see the fishermen in their boats out on the lakes, gently bobbing in the rippling water, fishing lines cast over the sides leading to coloured plastic
floats. Their lines glistening in the sunlight, like treads
of a spiders web in the morning dew.
Frank is always busy, and gets about on his trusty bicycle,
from his cottage to the hall and shed, where all the business activity takes place a distance of half a mile,
There is always something to be done,
boats to be painted. harness to be stitched, in between visits to the lake house pub across the road from the dance hall.
The pub always has lost souls, searching for some-where, or something.
the locals are as amused by the broken english, as they try to translate each syllable.
At weekends dancing is the big event of the week,
the dance hall lights are lit up,
A washing machine logo, is the only symmetric lettering on the huge piece of cardboard that is hung out on the outside of the hall, clearing telling everyone,
Dancing Tonight 9-2
Admission 10 shillings.
The band would begin playing at say 9-30.
by about 10 the place would be respectfully full, usually the non drinkers, and people who really enjoyed dancing.
and give us the confidence to play perhaps a little better,
come 11-30 the hall would be packed it could take 250.
Some Joe would squeeze in another 50, by opening up the back doors, others would spill out avoiding the crush.
We arrived at the hall early to use the situation to practice some new songs, and after our gear was set up, sound checked ect , we would run through a few tune's
Joe one of the brothers comes in to the hall and says listen lads ye can come back to practice later, So come west to the house for the dinner and then ye can come east again,
and anyhow Frank is waiting cause the spuds are boiled, well what can we do, even if we,re only after our own dinner a few hours ago,
A refusal might be taken up the wrong way, and we had a slogan on some of our posters that said,
We,re the Big Four. always pleased to meet,. always meet to please you.,
it took us about five minutes to get to the house, mist is falling all around its going to be damp, and down here in the south of Ireland for dancers it means excess sweat, and also for the musicians, what with the droplets of water dropping off the corrugated iron roof,
A sea of steam rising up from the crowd, and our own perspiration dropping off our foreheads, and this is one of many nights spent playing at this location, we thought it would go on for ever but nothing ever does,
Any how, we get out of the car and through the broken wooden gate,hanging sideways, up the footpath overgrown with all kinds of foliage, into the kitchen which was the living room and the boardroom,
on one side of the room is an old settle, the range all stoked up, a blazing fire beaming out through the front grill,
The door of the oven of the range was a little open, inside was a huge piece of lamb in a dish roasting away, And on the door hung some big woollen socks, steam rising off them,
as the meat was cooking Joe was busy cutting a slab of butter and getting the knife edgy for cutting the sheep,
while the dance will be progress, those who are hungry, after spending some time consuming Guiness, will be very happy to eat a bite, of some sheep.
slapped up between a few slices of bread with a nice dollop of butter, salt and pepper will taste very good indeed, especially after the pints,
After this hurried meal its off back to the hall where we spend the next few hours going through some new songs that we intend to include in our programme,
As the dance is progressing the smell of horses sweat and their dung is creeping up through the stage, this is where Joe and Frank store the saddellry,
Joe himself is a small little man, very agile and loves dancing, the finest loveliest woman that he could lay eyes on, thaws who he would be first after, and all the girls were mad about him,
Then later on he would come up on the stage and shake around a bit, much to the amusement of the punters, you would hear comments like give it stick Joe boy,
this night was heavy sticky and hot, the hall was full Joe had a beam in his eye, the money was counted, Twas time to party, he had Frank over in the shack serving the hungry,and thirsty, a small little hut across from the hall, late at night they would serve soft drinks the sheep and the bread,
Joe was up on stage, which was tiny,
jumping about when our drummer who was just behind him began stroking him between the legs with his drumstick,
Joe looked around and came to the conclusion it must have been the bass player who was standing right beside him, so he put his arm around him but the two fell off the stage into the crowd of women, who were standing outside the ladies toilet door,
this is where the women would stand to be asked to dance,as the fellows came over, everybody thought that it was a fight and this would be nothing new, some skirmish was always possible,
Later when the dance was over and the gear packed away, Twas time to get paid, so Joe would call me to accompany him to the ladies toilet,
He would jam himself up against the door so no one would come in, while we were in transaction,
he would put his hand down inside his trousers and pull up a stocking which was tied on to him with a large safety pin, here was the nights takings,
£35-00 he would say, as if he didn't know, he would spend ten minutes as he counted out one pound at a time maybe you,d give me a few back
I ' ll give ye some more work,
No No Joe I said,
we're too popular for that kind of talk, Well T'was a good night says he,
That hall has long since gone, like Joe and Frank, like the band scene of the time,
But the land and lakes remain as they always were,