We just missed the Lough Foyle Ferry from Northern Ireland to Greencastle, and so missed Greencastle’s blessing of the fleet, something I had wanted to see. It was at the maritime museum near the mariner’s memorial. But after the blessing there was a program of Sea Shanties by the Causeway Shantymen, a group who had crossed Lough Foyle on the ferry a few hours earlier.
The blessing and the Shanties were part of the Greencastle Regatta, the local, small-town festival held by the down where my grandfather was born.
The Shantymen invited everyone to sing along and the McClear family knew all the words. At the end of the performance the lead Shantyman came up to Kevin. Kevin is a big 6’10” bearded man with a deep voice and asked him to join the group. “Ye know all the words.”
The Shantymen’s final song was “Rolling Down to Old Maui.” It was not part of their normal repertoire, but they added it to honor Maui after the fires. The lead Shantyman needed a cheat sheet, but the McClears just belted it out. They told Kevin “we could have used youse.” Kevin explained that we were from Alaska. “Youse here on that cruise ship?” that was anchored off Greencastle.
I said “no, we’re for the Regatta, my grandfather was born here.” Immediately we were drawn into conversation with the group about the area, it’s history, and the shared fishing and sea faring traditions of Greencastle, sea songs, Bushmills, where they are from, and Sitka. I fed them a few verses of Santy Anna that they didn’t know. As they headed for the pub they stopped and broke into a few more shanties.
The Regatta is a small-town festival. The village streets are closed, a fun fair (carnival rides) were set up.
The combination bungee trampoline was a favorite with Liam and Fiona. They both did flips and I wondered how Fiona kept her pink and yellow crocs on her feet while spinning upside-down.
On the town green there are sports, kids’ races and games and pickup football. The toddler’s race had kids sent off by their moms, running toward the finish line, except that some of the toddlers didn’t seem to get it and turned mid-field to run back to mom.
Music comes from two stages.
There’s a crafts’ fair…
…and a fancy-dress parade, where many of the kids were dressed as cowboys or country music singers although bee-keepers and Barbie made the march.
Of course, there are the sailboat races around a course of buoys.
A highlight of the festival, especially for our grandkids, was the “Color Run” a benefit for Donegal Hospice. It is a 5K run where people throw colored powder at the runners as they pass by. It is kind of like an Irish Holi (The Indian Festival of Colors). Fiona and Liam didn’t run but they really got into throwing handfuls of color at runners, and probably each other. Liam’s sneakers changed colors and Fiona’s blonde hair was a rainbow of tangles and curls. I wish I had gotten a picture.