The highs and lows of a week at the Pan Celtic Festival!

Overall its been a great week at the Pan Celtic Festival in Letterkenny, here are the highlights...and the lowlights of our week in Ireland!

It was a long journey to get over to Ireland, having travelled from Cornwall and Norwich we met and made a stop off in Shropshire for a gig in aid of the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund. After a great night of music and meeting some lovely people we set off early the next morning. The ferry crossing was very rough and while the boys got through it with a beer or two, Laura lurked in the shop for an hour or so (being not so subtly tailed by security!) to avoid anyone suffering from seasickness!

After settling into the house we were staying in we got some food and tried to be sensible with an early night, although sleeping in a new place proved elusive for some of us and much of the night was spent watching nature programs on RTE... not so Rock and Roll!

On Wednesday we had our first competitions, group traditional singing and Richard had the solo trad singing. Our housemates and all round lovely people Tir Ha Tavas and The Aggie Boys Choir were also in the Group Singing competition and despite the Cornish support and solidarity and everyone putting in a great performance, we were beaten by the Welsh who, (though we may say it through gritted teeth) were worthy winners! 

Thursday was the big day for us as we were competing in the Pan Celtic International Song Competition with our song Tresor. At lunchtime we went for a soundcheck, then to another one at 4, though it was a couple of hours waiting backstage before we got our soundcheck. Just before the competition we realised our wallets had been stolen from our dressing room, which didn't help the nervous wait backstage while the other countries performed their songs! Despite the nerves the stage at the An Grianan Theatre was a wonderful one to perform on and despite no sound coming from the keyboard we enjoyed performing the song. The wait backstage for the results was painful, all acts were in the Green room watching the scores come in on a blurry TV with next to no sound. Luckily someone had a phone to stream it on and after 3 judges scores we were in the lead. By the time the last judge came to score there were only two possible outcomes, either we would win outright or would draw in first place with the Irish. The scores came in...........and a draw was declared. A secret judge had been scoring in the audience in the event of a tie and placed the Irish above us in their order of preference, meaning we came second :-( Suddenly we understood why they kept the secret judge a secret, they weren't very popular in the Cornish camp! Such a close result was frustrating to say the least, but we were proud to have got a 2nd place for Cornwall. 

After the competition rather than crawling into a hole somewhere we headed over to Cornish and Manx night. The Cornish and Manx bands put on a great show, and seeing people 'interpretative dance' to our sets of tunes made our night. Big thanks to The Aggie Boys for getting the dancing going! 

Friday saw our whole house dress up in traditional Cornish outfits and join the Pan Celtic parade through the streets of Letterkenny. In the afternoon we set off to explore the beautiful Donegal coastline and in the evening went to watch a gig by the incredible Donegal band In Their Thousands. 

Saturday saw another competition as Laura and Tom entered the instrumental duo. Once again we were beaten by the Irish...but the judge's comment that he'd heard some 'unusual music he'd never heard before' bought a wry smile to our faces! So, we headed to the pub and joined The Aggie Boys, and later some of the Welsh contingent, for pub singing and playing. 

A few drinks in and we decided it was about time we worked on some new music. Not wanting to disturb anyone in the house we went to a nearby golf course with instruments and and got to work. It was pretty chilly out there but warmed by beer we developed 3 new tunes which will be appearing in our set very soon! 

Sunday we packed up and started the long journey home with a stopover in Poynton, Manchester to reunite with The Grenaways. Without a doubt the best thing about the week was the time we spent with The Aggie Boys Choir and Tir Ha Tavas. We couldn't have asked for better housemates, supporters, fellow Cornish, competitors, friends. Thank you so much to all of them for making our week, and to all from Kernow Pan Keltek for all their hard work with the organisation. Also, thank you to all the new friends we met from the other Celtic countries. We hope to see you all soon! X