Why I’m in a Coney Island state of mind

I am certain that the vast majority of you good people now readily accept that I am a truthful and trustworthy hack here in this space every Thursday.
Why I’m in a Coney Island state of mind

I am delighted we have reached this situation after all my hard work over the past few years. Your trust matters to me greatly and makes my life much more serene and happy.

I accept there will always still be a Doubting Thomas or two out there but sure that is the way of the world and was it not a great circus proprietor who defined that reality a century ago by pointing out that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Accordingly it is with the highest of confidence that I remind you regular readers of how much I enjoyed my trip to the Catskills above New York a few weeks ago and am happy to announce exclusively here that I know in advance I will have even more craic in just 48 hours time when I once again cross the water for a weekend in the famous Coney Island.

I’ve enjoyed myself hugely on previous visits to Coney Island but can guarantee that this trip will be even more memorable and stimulating than all the others.

Some of the truths I unveil here are harder to swallow than others.

It is, however, totally true that there will come a special time this Saturday afternoon when the entire population of Coney Island will give me an even warmer welcome than Éamon de Valera received on Coney Island on his first fundraising trip there for Fianna Fáil. There will be a total hush for maybe 15 minutes when I address that population.

There will be fulsome applause when I conclude.

I will be wined and dined and totally honoured for the entire duration of my return visit. I will be suitably modest and courteous throughout and will behave like an honourable Irishman at all times. Even the most implacable Doubting Thomas reading this piece will be afterwards impressed.

The islanders and their friends will put on a fine show for the occasion. Knowing the strength and vitality of that community, just like the Catskills folk recently, I know in advance it will be mighty craic altogether from beginning to end. And the end will not come early in the evening either. There is the possibility I will be asked to honour the occasion by singing a song myself.

If that happens I will of course oblige to the best of my ability.

That is the way you do things on fabled Coney Island.

Speaking of singing a song reminds me that it is time to put our Doubting Thomas corps out of their misery by revealing the full facts.

It begins with a singsong that few weeks ago at the Irish Arts Week in East Durham in the Catskills above New York and its pulsating Coney Island.

During that singsong in East Durham I met the magnificent Sligo balladeer Mai Hernon for the first time. She captivated the company with the quality of her singing of the great old ballads.

This is a lady with an angel trapped in her Celtic throat and she made the evening special for everybody there.

Now to cut a long story short, when it fell my turn to sing I delivered a ballad I penned myself about the time the Celtic Tiger died and created enforced emigration, again, of many of our youngest and brightest and best.

It is entitled The Leaving. points out that the youth who sit the Leaving nowadays are usually not just about to leave the family home but also, regrettably, their native land as well.

Quite a poignant thing even when sung with my kind of heavily nicotined voice and dammit, did I not see tears running down Mai Hernon’s cheeks about halfway through (she is now based in the USA) and when I concluded she told me she was going into the recording studio the following week to compile her new album and could she please record The Leaving.

And, of course, I was only delighted to oblige.

It is a fact that Mai Hernon’s sparkling new album is being released this weekend at the Frank Finn Singing Festival in gentle Rosses Point.

It is also pure true that The Leaving is the title track and, for that reason, I have been asked to formally launch the album sometime early on Saturday afternoon at a session in the unique pub on Coney Island! I will do so with the greatest of pleasure.

And, especially for Doubting Thomas, this little Coney Island, which I have visited before, lies just offshore of Rosses Point in Mai’s native County Sligo.

As always, the pure truth yet again.

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