Houston Celtic rockers - "stout" Celtic rockers - the Blaggards are back on Texas soil after a weeklong tour of Ireland, where the band mixed sightseeing with a few gigs here and there. Rocks Off asked bassist Chad Smalley if he'd share a few of the band's experiences on the Emerald Isle with us and our readers, and he was happy to oblige. Today we begin with a visit to singer Patrick Devlin's old stomping grounds... Sunday, March 28 - Dublin and Monkstown: This morning we spent some time walking around Dublin's Grafton Street area and St. Stephen's Green. Of course we paid a visit to the statue of Phil Lynott, right outside Bruxelles Pub, which used to be one of Patrick's favorite boozers. Afterwards we traveled just south of Dublin to Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, where we played the legendary Purty Kitchen, a handsome ballroom-sized venue that's been in business for thirty years. There we had a big crowd of family and friends from Patrick's old neighborhood and school. Charlie from the UK did an amazing job with the sound, too. Afterwards Patrick gave us a brief tour-by-night of nearby Killiney where he grew up. Walking along the steep cliffs of Killiney Bay it was so dark we could only see a few feet in front of us. When we heard a sudden loud splashing sound, Mike thought our friend Tim had fallen in the bay, but he had only chucked a rock in. Monday, March 29 - Killarney: After having a great dinner with Tom and the tour group, we played a really fun show in Hannigan's Bar in the ground floor of the stunning Killarney International Hotel, where our group was staying. The locals were amazed to find us playing there and made us promise we'd return. You also know you've done good when the barman tells you drinks are free for the rest of the night. Hannigan's also has a few "pour your own pint" tables, which we'd never seen before. You swipe your card at the table and pull your own pints of Guinness. Frankly we think pint-pulling is better left to the pros, but it looked like fun. Tuesday, March 30 - Galway and Claremorris: Shortly after departing the hotel this morning, we stopped on a hill just outside of Killarney with a beautiful view of the town and surrounding mountains, but were quickly chased back to the tour bus by a hailstorm that seemed to erupt from nowhere. That was pretty exhilarating. We continued through the village of Adare, the stony beaches of Lahinch (where people actually go surfing), the Cliffs of Moher (where the winds nearly knocked us flat) and the rocky wasteland of the Burren before arriving in Galway. Tonight, Eamonn Finnerty arranged a gig in his hometown of Claremorris in County Mayo, driving our whole tour group in from Galway and treating us all to a fantastic dinner at the Western Hotel. There we met a terrific quartet of local musicians who call themselves Silver Circus, who were kind enough to bring out all their gear for us to use, and played a killer set themselves before we went on. They are incredibly talented guys and we hope to be seeing them in Texas sometime next year. Blaggards play 9:30 p.m. tonight at Brian O'Neill's Irish Pub, 5555 Morningside, 713-522-2603 or www.brianoneills.com.
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