East Of Monroe back on native sod

East Of Monroe, a bluegrass band based in Maryland and northern Virginia, has been on tour in Ireland. They have promised to send along something of a travelogue of their experiences, and here is the final installment.

Hello from back in the USA! We boarded a plane in Dublin yesterday morning, and arrived safely in Washington, DC last night. None of us were quite ready to come home after such a wonderful tour and all the incredible hospitality and kindness we’ve been shown along the way.

When we wrote in last, we were making our way to Westport, a lovely town on Ireland’s west coast. We’d been hearing about Matt Molloy’s Pub, owned by the flute player with Ireland’s legendary Chieftains, for so long, and we were thrilled to play a show there! We stayed in the apartment upstairs from the pub, and had a fantastic time playing for a full house in their “yard bar.” We were honored that Mr. Molloy himself came to watch our performance and visit with us. Here’s a video of one of Gary Alan Ferguson’s original tunes from Matt Molloy’s:

Matt Molloy’s Pub is famous for hosting traditional Irish music every night of the week, and a jam followed our performance. A few of us played and sang some tunes with the local musicians, and we had so much fun that it was hard going to bed and leaving for the next gig!

From Westport, we headed down to Listowel for a show at St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre. This beautifully-restored historic church had amazing acoustics, and playing there was a blast. Here’s a fun Flatt and Scruggs song from that performance, featuring Jackie Frost on the lead vocals:

We couldn’t leave Ireland without visiting a castle or two, so when we heard about some cool ruins on the way to our last gig, we had to stop and check them out! Mallow Castle is an Irish natural monument that dates back to the 1500s, situated on a beautiful 33-acre property in Cork. The beautiful old turrets were still standing, and we also found a cool dragon chair outside the castle. Afterwards, we arrived in Blackrock to play The Rockies, a bar inside Blackrock’s hurling club. When we met our host for the evening, Roger Ryan, he offered to take us to another nearby castle on the waterfront.

Roger proved to be quite the tour guide, showing us around the castle, the hurling club, and the whole town of Blackrock. He was also the promoter for the evening’s concert, and we really appreciated his help and hospitality! We had a wonderful time learning about the sport of hurling and playing for a fun crowd at the Rockies. Here are some photos from our castle tours, and these last few shows:

While we’ve enjoyed all parts of this experience- the amazing food, all the cool venues we’ve played, seeing so many cool things along the way – we all agreed that our favorite part of this tour has been the people! “It seems like everybody here is musical,” says Lisa Kay. “Everyone plays, everyone sings- and, if not, they appreciate it in a really positive way.” “They’re so friendly, sincere, interested in getting to know you… and they’re such attentive audiences!” agrees Gary. We also feel that we’ve gotten to know each other better while traveling across Ireland. “We have had a great time driving around together: talking, sharing stories, making fun of the road signs that we tend to not understand…” says Wally. “It’s just been a wonderful trip, and we’re going to miss it!”

“Going home might be a challenge now,” Terry concludes. “It’s really been a great ten days. I hope we can do it again next year!” “I can’t wait to come back,” Jackie adds. As we return to the States, we hope you’ll continue to keep up with East of Monroe on our website and Facebook, and we’ve got so many more photos to share on our Instagram as we recover from the trip!

We’d also like to thank Bluegrass Today for sharing our adventures in Ireland, and everyone who has kept up with us along the way!