To say that was a busy week is an understatement akin to saying that I only glanced at Jennifer Lopez’s chest in that dress she was wearing at the Oscars… t’was a scene that would rival The Gap of Dunloe at sunrise on a Summer’s day lads. I’m surprised somebody didn’t park a bicycle in it. That wan has more peaks and valleys than South Wales!! I didn’t even see the feckin’ Oscars, but I saw that! Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked… again. Even before the festival trail was embarked upon this week, there was ‘ The Big Scary Meeting’, an interview on 2FM, and later another interview on Newstalk sandwiched between two festivals. ‘The Big Scary Meeting’ saw me sitting in a room with some people, telling them about this festival quest that I’m on, in the hope they might think there was some way we might be of use to each other. Can’t really say much more than that until the verdict is in, but as always, I’ll keep you posted… literally! Off to Galway last Thursday night, to be bright eyed and bushy tailed to call into the 2FM studios and have a natter with Hector in the early early morning time. I parked Wanderly Wagon down on the docks in Galway and I even paid for parking yo! €3.50 wasn’t a bad deal for bed and breakfast
Eenie, meenie, mi…. nope too late, I’m done!!! Glimmer of nipple got me.
Let’s get this show on the road! It was just after 10:30AM when the ferry pulled out from Rossaveal Co. Galway, heading for Inis Mor, which for the purposes of this post will hitherto be referred to as Craggy Island. This ferry was carrying a cargo of crazed clerics to Tedfest, a celebration of all things Father Ted. At around 10:45AM a young fella dressed as a priest arrived on the top deck of the boat and announced at the top of his voice “We’re all going to Heaven”, to which he got the appropriate response – “Yaaayyyy!”. Evidently, for some, we were! 10:50AM the first chorus of My Lovely Horse breaks out and by 11AM on a Friday morning, the weekend is pretty much in full swing as the sun shone down on Nuns, Brothers, Bishops, Priests, Pat Mustards and Mrs Doyles who were downing cans and smoking fags in a frenzy that suggested Father Jack was on his way. Overheard on the deck of the ferry – “It’s our anniversary this weekend. Some fellas would take their Missus to Paris. I take mine to Inis Mor and dress her as a priest”. Sounds like a pretty healthy relationship to me
Question – “Are you a Sister or a Father?” Answer – “A Sister-Father ” True!
Would you believe that of the almost 13,000 people who’ve read the drivel I serve up here on a weekly basis (“That’s mad Ted!”), I have two regular readers in Indonesia and Algeria!? Howye lads It’s probably worth outlining here, just for the two lads like, that Father Ted is the holiest man to have ever lived in Ireland in the recent past. So holy and amazing was Ted that he doesn’t just get a feast day, he gets a whole weekend in February. Soon he will be made Saint Ted (based on the “That money was only resting in my account” miracle, among others), he will then be the new patron saint of Ireland and Saint Patrick’s Day will only celebrated within the confines of the Guinness Storehouse, by tourists wearing appropriately branded clothing. Capiche? Sound. My plan was to head to Craggy Island for the day and catch the last ferry off the island and strike out for the Micho Russell festival in Doolin that night. That was about as good a plan as the night Bono turned around to the Edge and said “I know….. why don’t we make Spider Man into a musical”. Lemon! I was actually making my way towards the pier for the last ferry when it dawned on me that leaving Craggy Island was a ridiculous thing to be doing; I think the fact that the walk to the pier had been the longest I’d been away from the bar all day might have had something to do with my train of thought. I enquired about digs for the night, managed to find a room (which was surprising given the size of the religious rabble that had arrived for the festivities). Joel sorted me out with a boudoir in the hostel and I went back to the pub to join in the fun again. Tally Ho!
Pat Mustard doing his rounds… expect hairy babies!
There were events laid on throughout the day for the happy holy hordes to enjoy. Speed dating with Nelly, Craggy Island’s Got Talent, Dancing for Peace in Shebangos and the ever popular Lovely Girls Competition. The real attraction of Tedfest though is the head-a-balls who come to attend it. This crowd are up for a laugh and they take their vocation very seriously. It’s all “Howya Father”… “Feck, Drink, Girls”… and “G’wan, g’wan, g’wan”. One of my favourite comments of the day was given by a nun, aimed at an over amorous priest… “That would be my arse Father!”.
A difficult habit to kick!
The spirit entered into by the crowd in attendance was impressive. Lots of people came with three different costumes, one for each of day they were on the Island. I was hoping that there were foreign tourists on the island for the day, that didn’t have a clue about Father Ted or what was going on on the island and they thought that this was how clergy behaved on the Aran Islands all the time. I was chatting to Peter, one of the lads responsible for organising the madness, and he was telling me that one year, there were four lads in full Nazi regalia (a la the “Are you right there Father Ted” episode). The four boys decided it would be a bit of sport to march, full jack boots swinging in the air craic, down to the ferry, when they were leaving on the Sunday. They had a little crowd of nuns and priests join in the procession. As they made their way towards the pier, the ferry was docking with a clatter of foreign tourists aboard for a visit to the scenic island for the day… the only reason that many of them got off the boat at all was because the Nazis & Nuns were getting on! Many of the tourists stayed huddled together and didn’t stray far from the pier. Peter told me they were expecting about 300 lunatics on the island for the weekend this year, a crowd who were more pro-session than procession if you catch my Corpuis Christi
The unadulterated joy of kicking Len in the hole!
So there I was, on the island for the night with not so much as a spare underpants or pair of socks to me name! What was I going to do for a costume!? Not much choice when it come to drapers, gentleman’s outfitters and haberdasheries on Craggy Island of a Friday evening; so I rambled into Spar and came out 10 minutes later with 4 pairs of black tights, a babies dummy, a rattle and some old newspapers. To quote Rolf… “Can you guess what it is yet?” Ladies and Gentlemen…. (Brace yourselves!)… I present…. Spiderbaby! The body of a spider and the mind of a baby (the latter being somehow apt, donchafink??).
“That is really disturbing” says Lily, “Holy F@*K!” says Trish, “A bit more Boosh than Ted” said Jennifer. Strange, but would you believe I didn’t stand out… that much!? I was standing outside the American Bar on Inis Mor at one stage in the night, chatting away with a fisherman from the island about The Butcher’s down in Dunmore East and comparing notes about this and that. ‘Twas only afterwards when one of the crowd I was with ended up laughing about it, that I twigged the getup of me chatting away outside the pub. In fairness though, I didn’t have the stocking over me face at the time… just the ones over my underpants and the two pairs stuffed with newspaper hanging from my torso… not so bad so If things weren’t bad enough, turns out I don’t know how to pull tights up properly. What with all the dancing, well it was for peace like, the crotch of the tights needed regular adjustment to stop them from sagging. The constant incorrect technique of just grabbing the sides and pulling them up (it’d be worse if I knew how to do it proper!?) resulted in a ladder in the under arse of them, that spread as the night went on. Barely got away with not creating a Rift Valley on the Aran Islands. I must have made some picture strolling the roads of Inis Mor heading back to the hostel that night. Thinking about it since, it’d probably be worth staying on the dry one night, getting up at sunrise, and sitting on a stone wall at a crossroads with an “I Shot JR” t-shirt on you, just to witness the most colorful and surreal ‘walks of shame’ known to man. I’d say Attenborough would get a series out of it!
See… Spiderbabies aren’t scary at all!
There is no doubt that this festival was a cloister of criac, but there were grumblings abroad that it was a bit on the expensive side. I reckon Jacquie & Co. would have made it if the tickets had been cheaper than €150 (Tedfest would have been all the better for their presence ). The ticket price doesn’t include accommodation or travel. For your ticket you get admission to the programmed events (which are brilliant fun!) and a goodie bag upon arrival. I talked to two girls from Dublin who’d been to the festival before when it was on Inis Oirr, and they felt that although they love Tedfest, it doesn’t feel like they’re getting great value for money. “You can get an earlybird ticket for something like the Electric Picnic for €190 and look at the acts that play at that!?”. But would you have as much fun at Electric Picnic girls? The two girls reckoned it was the punters attending who make the event. Few bob off the tickets next year maybe?? The event isn’t organised by a group from the Island, but there are islanders involved in the running of some of the events. As you are probably guessing, most of the activities are centered around establishments that sell drink, not that I’m complaining, but utilising the natural beauty and amenities of the place more, mightn’t do any harm. One resident on the island told me that there was more community involvement with Tedfest when it began initially, but this had seemed to diminish somewhat over the years. They also went on to tell me that the activities aren’t spread around venues on the island as much as they used to be, most events are focused in a one or two places. That said, Tedfest gives the Island an economic boost at a time when not many visitors would be spending the night there, and one would hope that money spent anywhere on the island over the weekend would trickle down through the economy of the place.
They got value from the Beer Googles. Yep, googles made from tubes you use as straws… Genius!!
At this point I am delighted to hand you over to a guest blogger for this week… Jennifer Allen… Jennifer? Hello?? Nope, she hasn’t surfaced yet, but I’m sure she’ll come around by Thursday. Check back in then for the lowdown from Sister Imacculata Concepta. I prescribe lots of water, rare steak and a little liver salts Missus
I was meant to get the ferry off the Island at 8:15AM the next morning. If I had made it, it would have been a miracle St. Tibulus would have been proud of. I missed another ferry. The difficulty with this one though was that I was due in Dublin, ’bout 1:30ish, for an interview on Newstalk with Sile Seoige. The next ferry off the island was at 5PM. Shit! I got a flight off the island sometime after 8 (ahem!), hitched to Wanderly Wagon from the airport, made it in time for the interview and even managed to sound somewhat coherent; I reckon it was Sile’s professionalism rather than my coherence that got us through it though. Phew! Boats, boots, planes (only €23 one way!), thumbs and Wanderly Wagons!? I have a carbon footprint on me this week like a Yeti with a Concorde. That afternoon in Dublin, I felt like Padre Pio after a particularly tough night wrestling demons, but there I was and just in time for Bliss Festival too. Bliss promised - sexual health, freedom and pleasure, in mind, body and spirit. This wasn’t a festival of ridin’, it was a festival about ridin’
A few weeks back, Neolie Griff sent me a link to an article about Ireland’s first “Sex Festival” and I got very excited. After posting a bit about it, a lovely lady called Beth got in touch with me and asked if I was interested in attending…. eeehhh, like YEAH!! It wasn’t a sex festival though, it was a festival about sexuality, which is a different kinda thing altogether. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the spirit of adventure and of putting myself through all kinds of torment to provide something half interesting to fill these paragrpahs, I signed up for a ‘playshop’ entitled Awakening Your Senses. I was blindfolded in the corridor of the Gresham Hotel and led to a room that had atmospheric music playing, led to sit on a cushion and await whatever might happen me. About 12 people were taking this playshop, and we were all instructed not to speak or not to remove our blindfolds unless we found we wanted to leave the room for some reason. The first thing that I noticed was that it was difficult to gauge the size of the room from the music playing in it, through the blindfold you could sense that the room was dimly lit and there was chilled atmosphere. One of the first personal experiences were different types of smells that were changing regularly and wafting quite close to my nose; thankfully they were all pleasant. After a while, things were brushing against my arms and face, some of them feeling like feathers and very soft material. I’m not going to lie to you here, this felt very pleasant indeed… did I neglect to mention that everyone was fully clothed… well at least they all were when the blindfold went on! Added to the sound, smell and touch sensations, we were then fed things, which is an odd thing to have a stranger do to you when blindfolded and tickled by feathers! A strawberry was placed into my mouth at one stage and it felt weird (are you sure that was a strawberry buddy!?). The hairs (ahem!!) on it made it feel all rough, but when I bit into it… there was a scream… only joking When I bit into it, it was obviously a strawberry, I just never noticed how rough the surface of them actually is before.
The Dancing Girls at Bliss. Careful Now!
This whole blinfolded awakening senses buzz was an interesting experience, unsettling and enjoyable. One of the unexpected experiences of the whole thing was the noises that other people were making in the room. While I was sitting there blindfolded on my cushion like Terry Waite in an erotic fantasy, I was trying to imagine what the sounds around me actually were. There was someone right next to me groaning away like a bull seal in the throes of falatio! It was getting so intense at one stage, I was wondering were other people having things done to them that I wasn’t!? Hey!!?? On the other side of me was some olympic lip smacking that sounded like an auld fella who had lost his false teeth trying to eat sour gooseberries. It was feckin’ unsettling yo! I wasn’t sure whether or not I was sitting blindfolded in the middle of an orgy, fully dreesed with everyone taking the piss! Turns out I wasn’t, some people react differently to being stroked with feathers than others, simple as. After a whole day of this type of carry on, it’s easy to understand why some people were a bit more… sensitive ( )than others. You try being tickled and fed chocolate cake all day! You wouldn’t be right There are plans afoot to have another Bliss Festival during the summer… for TWO DAYS! I’ll let you know the craic…
Grand Chess-Master Flash
Sunday morning it was down Cow’s Lane in Temple Bar for a sunny stroll through the main event of Dublin’s Festival of Russian Culture. There was music (see Vladamir on violin below), Russian dolls (I know I’m in an even more misogynistic mode than usual this week, but I mean the wooden dolls inside wooden dolls… Really!!), fodder, chess and more Russian culture than you’d find in an arts centre in Vladivostok! The celebration of spring is a big deal in Russia (no shit Sherlock!? Poor divils do be freeeezin’ Missus) and this Spring, Dublin City Council took the opportunity to strengthen the links with the Russian community in the city, by celebrating Russian culture…. that’s what their press release says anyways!
You can’t beat a little fiddle on a Sunday morning… Wha?!
As I strolled through the Russian culture in the streets of Dublin, there was a shout, and lo and behold, the very fella who had sent me the link for Bliss! Griff was in Dublin for the rugby and out for the rashers before hitting the road for Galway. A nice bit of symmetry to bring the weekend’s proceedings to a close.
Russian Dolls ;-P
To summarise… this episode: I’ve laughed my head off all night whilst dressed in tights, been tickled and fed chocolate cake by lovely ladies whilst blindfolded and strolled through the colourful en fete streets of Dublin enjoying pleasant company and pancakes. Six months on the road. Am I getting tired of this yet??
Safe travels, don’t die!
For more info on visiting the Aran Islands check – http://www.aranisland.info