Tag Archives: Dublin

Herons! Gipsy Tour 2013

This January, our Ben is giving up the comforts of home and hitting the road for a solo tour of the country. He’ll be driving all over the UK in his car, which is called Yoko – a dented old Nissan Almera painted like a gypsy caravan (courtesy of the talented art students of Stroud College).

As part of the Herons! Gipsy Tour, Ben will be playing a plethora of venues and pubs across the UK, as well as front room gigs: small concerts in people’s homes.* The aim is to make friends, share Herons!’ music with a new audience, and earn enough to get Ben to the next place. It’s a tour that relies on the kindness of strangers. The tour kicks off on Boxing Day at our favourite watering hole, the Prince Albert in Stroud.

In the meantime, Ben is spending time in Dublin with old friends, and doing a bit of gigging. You can catch him playing guitar with the amazing Aoife Mc on Saturday at No. 63 Merrion Square (home of the Royal Society of Antiquaries), and also doing a small acoustic set at the Monday Echo at the International Bar on … you guessed it — Monday!

The Herons! Gipsy Tour is getting bigger and busier every day, so do check out our gigs listings or like us on Facebook to keep up to date. Bye for now!

*You can help! Would you be up for hosting a gig at your place – whether it’s a house, a flat, a barn or a garage? If you could get about 20 people (give or take) together who like music, then you’ve got a gig! Email heronstheband@gmail.com if you’re interested.

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Celebrating Bloomsday

We’re really excited to be marking Bloomsday on Saturday with a special Beatroot Rendez-Vouz event at the Prince Albert in Stroud. For those of you who are justifiably wondering, “What the hell is Bloomsday?” — well, I’ll tell you.

Bloomsday is a celebration of James Joyce’s landmark novel Ulysses. The action of the novel takes place on one day: 16 June 1904, and closely follows the movements and thoughts of its primary and peripheral characters (many of them real Dubliners) on an ordinary day in Dublin. One of these primary characters is Leopold Bloom — hence the name”Bloomsday”.  The 16th of June was, in fact, the day Joyce met his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.

The novel caused a great uproar when it was first published, largely due to its stark depiction of the stuff of everyday life; including eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, daydreaming about sex, wanking, getting drunk and singing, getting drunk and crying, getting drunk and trying it on with the object of your desire, getting drunk and fighting in the street — namely, the things that real people do in real life.

Such offensive material was considered by the bulwarks of virtue to be obscene and damaging to society, and was therefore banned in the US and UK, until elderly men in black robes decided to acknowledge that Ulysses is a titan of modernist literature, and not just dimestore smut.

Every 16th of June since 1954, poets, authors, artists and punters who just love the book have marked Bloomsday in Dublin (and abroad) by following in the characters’ footsteps, drinking in the same pubs, eating the same sandwiches — possibly even using the same loos. Many follow the route the characters travelled in the book, between Sandymount (a seaside suburb of Dublin) and a meandering trail around the inner city.

For example, many people flock to Davey Byrne’s pub on South Anne Street at 11:30am to have a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy — the very fare in the very same pub enjoyed by Leopold Bloom in the novel. Enthusiasts dressed in period attire will then read aloud from that chapter, often acting out the narrative.

Basically, it’s a bit of fun. I was lucky enough to be living in Dublin on the 100th anniversary of the day Ulysses takes place. It was like a much more sober — and more genuinely Irish — St Patrick’s Day. I’ve celebrated it ever since. This year, I’m chuffed that I’ll have some of my mates from Dublin here in Stroud to celebrate it with me.

Join the Facebook event here.

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Scorched Earth, Four Years On

Four years ago, I was living in Dublin. It was the winter of ’06 coming into ’07, and it was bitterly cold. Well — it doesn’t really get bitterly cold in Ireland. What happens is, it gets sort of cold and really damp, which makes the cold feel much worse than it really is.

Winters are pretty tough for me. I’ve never been a winter person. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of light or the lack or warmth, or the combination of the two, but it gets grim and feeling like it’ll never end. The damp winds blow right through all the layers of clothes and my big navy P-coat and my longjohns, and all I can think of doing is curling up by an open fire and sleeping until the snowdrops and crocuses pop up their little heads to announce with a chorus of whispering the arrival of spring.

But, of course, come hell, high water, weather or winter, everybody’s got to put their shoulders to the wheel. Luckily for me, the wheel was spinning in Dalkey, south of Dublin City on the bay that was once referred to as “The British Bay of Naples”. Now, I’ve never been to Naples or its bay, and Ireland isn’t part of Britain anymore, but I think I get the gist. You would, too, if you saw Dalkey: they’ve got one of the best vistas in all the-world-that’s-known-to-me.

Down at Bullock harbour, you can visit the seals, who always pop their noses up hoping that a friendly reveller will throw them something by way of comestibles. Up the road was Vico Road, one of the most beautiful agglomeration of extravagant housing a person could hope to see without being stared at strangely for being there. It’s a rich area, but I get the feeling that because it’s so nice to look at, nobody there really blames you for gawping.

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