Tuesday Nights at the Cobblestone

The dim light of the Cobblestone on a Tuesday night.

I love stopping by the Cobblestone on Tuesday nights after yoga class.  Tom Mulligan (the proprietor), his son Tomas, and some of his nephews play on Tuesdays.  The crowd is small on Tuesdays and the tone of the place is very relaxed.  I alway find a good a seat right in the musicians’ corner.

Irish musicians often play more than one instrument. Here you see Tomas on guitar and his cousin playing flute with a set of uilleann pipes on his lap.

Whenever I come in on Tuesday, Tom’s playing his flute.  When the song ends and he looks up, recognizes me, and exclaims “Shannon!” in the most lovely Kerry accent I’ve ever heard.  That warms my heart!

Of course, dropping in on the way home from yoga leads to some misconceptions as well.  Many people assume that my tall, green bag holds a musical instrument.  The musicians and audience alike ask me to join in.

Unfortunately, it’s been years since I played the oboe. But with six years of that under my belt, I know that playing well takes tremendous time and dedication.  Were I to take up an instrument, it would take years before I’d be ready to play for an audience.

Meeting My Musical Family

I just emailed the current Fulbrighters in Ireland to see if they want to join me at the Cobblestone Pub in Smithfield (Dublin 7) on Tuesday, October 30.  I also posted this to the Fulbright Ireland alumni page on LinkedIn to see if any of them want to come along… had such a ball with them Friday. (More about that later.)

Then I realized you might want to come, too!

You may have seen my blog post about Tom Mulligan and his Cobblestone Pub and about Fulbright Amanda and Jonathan playing there.

Tom says one of his brothers (Alfie, a piper) will be playing that night between 7 and 10 pm. Alfie’s daughter and two sons will be playing as well.  It’s possible that Neillidh (mentioned in the blog) might also play. They’re all related to me in some way, and this is a chance for me to get to meet them and enjoy their melodies. Perhaps you’d enjoy being part of the fun?

This is an informal event, to be held in the front bar.  There’s no admission cost… just the cost of your own drinks. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

My Family at the Cobblestone Pub

Mom with her cousin, Tom Mulligan (left) and Tim Bigelow (right) meeting at the Cobblestone Pub.

What a great send off!  Mom and her friends left for the airport at five o’clock this morning, so last night we decided to meet after my yoga class at the Cobblestone Pub.

You may recall from an earlier blog that the Cobblestone is considered the best place in Dublin to hear traditional Irish music.  We went there with Fulbright Amanda and her husband Jonathan, so they’d have a chance to play their instruments for an audience in Dublin.

A girl from last night’s yoga class said it would definitely not be a problem for me to go to the Pub in my exercise clothes. So I headed straight there–yoga mat and all.

When I arrived, Mom immediately introduced me to Tom Mulligan–a cousin of ours from Ballybunion in County Kerry–who she’d just met.  He had inquired about her visit Ireland and she said she’d been to County Kerry visiting Eilish and Con O’Hanlon.

Picture of the Cobblestone from the New York Times.

Loe and behold, Elish is Tom’s cousin.  I think he said his mom is the sister of my mom’s grandmother, but I haven’t been able to reconcile that math yet!  He seems so young.

Tom soon introduced me to his son, Thomas, who was working behind the bar.  And what a warm welcome we enjoyed!  Thomas was so complimentary about my Fulbright, and the fact that it’s in engineering.  Pretty soon, my smile was drawn ear to ear, my eyes were misty from hearing well-sung ballads, and my mom was hugging everyone in sight. Imagine! 😉

Tom is in the middle… doesn’t he look like Bill Clinton!?

Tom returned to playing, but when the musicians’ area started to get crowded, Tom packed up his flute and climbed behind the bar.

“Hum,” I thought, “wonder what that means?”  So I went to Googling the topic.  I discovered Tom’s the owner of the place!  Someone on Yelp had mentioned him by name and noted how incredibly nice he is.  (I’m in 100% agreement.)

Tom wanted to connect me with another Fulbright in the family, Siobhan. She taught Irish in the US.  To connect us, he dialed her up and soon handed me the phone.  Turns out, she’s the one who gave us an Irish lesson during the Fulbright orientation. I’d met her but not realized we were connected.  (I’d have never realized the connection to Tom without my huggy mom and her travel-ready neighbors.)

Tom’s son, Tomás, is working on a degree in  Irish politics and history at University College Dublin (UCD).  His dad completed a similar degree there 2006-2010… the same years I was in school at William and Mary. Tom had gone back to be a good example to his kids. It seems to have paid off!

Tomás wouldn’t even take money for my drinks last night. And, Tom gave Mom a copy of his CD to take home. Ain’t it grand to have a family!

You may also recall that it was my 2003 visit to the UCD campus that left me determined to become a Fulbright myself. And thanks to my mom’s positive example, I set to work on a PhD three years later. That helped it all come together.

So, all in all, it’s wonderful to find a place where everybody knows my name, and they seem so glad I came!  Who have thought I’d find my home in a pub?

Tom’s brother Neily is one of the world’s premier uilleann (elbow) pipers. I think he’ll be playing Thursday, October 25.  See you there?  For more information, you can like the Cobblestone on Facebook.

By the time I left last night, there’s been more than 14 different musicians chiming in. I can’t wait to return!