Monday, November 15, 2010


We had a belated honeymoon in Ireland in the early summer of 1990, and as ever I had a sketchbook at hand to capture some of the action.

As a long-time fan of the Dubliners, a traditional Irish folk music group, I had to pay a visit to O'Donoghue's pub in Dublin, where the band started out in the early 1960s. While there was no live music at the time, I managed to sketch a few of the locals while downing a pint of Guinness.

Another O'Donoghue's regular.

Nestling a "half", this woman, too, seemed quite at home in the pub.

Early on our first Sunday morning in Dublin, we took a stroll down the cobbled, pedestrianised and almost deserted Grafton Street, and were treated to a haunting reel played by this man.

Heading south, through such scenic places as Glendalough, we ended up in Waterford, famous for its crystal glass. We were lucky to be there on the night the locals held a "session". This entailed about 10 musicians - they arrive and leave at random - getting together in a pub and playing a wide range of traditional music on instruments like acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, bodhrans, accordions, penny-whistles and castinets. This was one of the patrons enjoying a pint of the dark stuff.

A drink was a normal accompaniment as the musicians got going.

I think this captures something of the vibe, as a guy on an accordion faces a fellow musician across a table filled with drinks.

These were done in a small sketchbook. Rather than tear the pages out, however, I have scanned them in situ, which means some curving of pages, I'm afraid. This is a bodhran player.

Profiles. The guy in front is playing an accordion, with the guy behind apparently singing.

I remember this guy standing up and singing a hauntingly beautiful English sea shanty.

Another accordion player.

A banjo exponent.

Isn't this a classic Irish character?

I think we have now moved on to a pub in Galway, our last stop on a trip around the country, before heading back to Dublin. Here too, a traditional session was under way.

Fiddler on the hoof.

This guy seems to have a think bubble beside his head. It was probably just a bit of decoration on the wall behind him.

Eyes shut, this guy is probably playing an accordion.

As this guy is. I like the half-completed face.

I switched to fine-liner here, probably unwisely, as the lines are not that fine.

Possibly a guitarist.

A thin fiddler.

A rather rotund banjo player.

A fatter fiddler.

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