Back up the road, back past Duncannon, up to Ballyhack again. The road along the waterfront gives a great view of the bay and the village across the way. The ferry is just on its way in for a load of cars, and we’re very glad that the line is now much shorter than previously.
Perfect timing, and perfect positioning too. My van gets the first spot in the third lane, so we get the best view all the way across. Getting out of your vehicle is discouraged, because it’s such a short trip and herding everyone back to their places delays the orderly drive off.. But we get out anyway, and in again in plenty of seconds to spare before it’s our turn to file off.
As we near the dock, two middle-aged women knock on our door and ask if they can get a lift to the Tall Ships. Why, certainly ; we’re going just there. Lucy and Margaret are Dubliners on holiday* (unless they’re not : I’ve completely forgotten their names and town of origin), staying at a B&B near Ballyhack, and they were certain of finding a lift into Waterford to see the festival.
Indeed, the road to Waterford is one long line of cars and vans and busses, thankfully moving at a good clip. Signs for the festival point one way and signs for viewing the Great Departure point the other at every side road. What may be a little more tricky for our hitchhikers is getting back in the evening. All cars go to Waterford now : what percentage will be heading to Ballyhack late tonight ? This 40-minute drive would cost quite a lot by taxi.
Our guests aren’t worried. They’ll tackle that problem when they come to it.
On the shuttle from the car park I spy Phil & Carla and Joe & Joanne getting ice cream from a vendor with a cart. Good idea ! Who knew it would be so warm and sunny out in Ireland ? There’s time before the gig - let’s get some. Once we track the cart down, there’s no chocolate left. And no way this is Ben&Jerry’s as advertised ! But it is refreshing. Gone in three minutes.
Today there are a lot more people pausing to listen to Hogeye’s set. There are more people altogether, in fact. Saturday is the real festival day, and I’m glad we saw it Friday when things were not yet elbow to elbow. Imagine waiting to visit the ships today - standing in line would be all you did for most of the afternoon.
After Hogeye Navvy’s bit it’s question of what to do with the evening. The more delicate of us are heading back to the cottages now. It has been a long day of exploring. The others are split between staying in Waterford for food and music (but where, for traditional tunes and not the modern stuff blaring from the other bandstands ?), or heading back to the towns near the cottages where we’ve vaguely heard there will be stuff going on. I take the middle choice and get in the van headed for Thomastown, just a few minutes from my bed.
We’ve heard there’s a big place on the edge of town featuring live music every Saturday, so we go find it. At 9 when we pull into the enormous parking lot we can hear electric guitars tuning. Somebody goes on a scouting mission inside and finds lots of amps, three electric keyboards... this is not our kind of place.
Back to the pubs in town, if nobody’s playing anything we should at least be able to get directions to where they are. And we’re hungry. Famished. The first pub with a lot of cars in the lot has a sign Food served All day. And another sign, Food until 9.
The day ends at 9 around here.
On the good side, the barkeep says they’ll be having live music right next door.
Off we go next door, cleverly named the Next Door. Yes, they are setting up to play, out on the spacious back patio. No, they are no longer serving food.
Music being more important than food, we figure we’ll just drink our dinner. Somebody said Liquid Bread, right ?
First up is a truly amateur trio doing a sort of pop. The kid they’ve got is going to be a really good vocalist some day, when his voice settles, but so far Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues should not be his song.
It’s quite noisy, and trips are made to the van for all the jackets and sweaters at hand. D and I volunteer to scout out the rest of Tommytown, as they call it, for more suitable music.
The first thing we spy is a takeout place still serving food-like substances. We’re sceptical, because of the ancient, mummified sausages proudly displayed in the warming case. The menu lists a hundred items but really boils down to chips, burgers, pizza and sausages, available with any combination of sauce. I figure they must sell enough chips to have to make new ones frequently, so we go for an order of garlic chips and consume it on our stroll about town. They’re not too bad, if you like mayo-based garlic sauce. I wonder - if we had ordered a sausage, would she really have served one of the disgusting things on view ?
On our tour of the two-street town, we find more late-night takeout and a handful of pubs. The pubs with large TVs are packed to bursting with people cheering a football match. Those without are ghost pubs. No music anywhere.
Back at the Next Door the looks are crestfallen when I deliver the no music news. But everyone perks right up when I pass around a note (it’s too loud to converse) saying the takeout place is open. Joe takes orders and off he and Fred go to save us from certain starvation.
After the garage guys finish the opening set, the real attraction of the evening starts up. It’s an Elvis Presley cover band, and they’re quite good. If only they would back off on the decibels, they’d be great. But no. Darrell has taken refuge inside, at a table with a view of an old thriller movie with the sound off, and I join him for noise-breaks now and then.
Joe and Fred come back laden with chips, both plan and drenched in various flavors or mayo. When everybody has finished eating it’s time to go. Elvis sounds okay from the street, but it’s cold out, and now we’re not hungry it’s not worth it.