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1989 Fleadh Cheoil na hƒireann, Sligo Town, Ireland, caught preparing to compete. A close examination would reveal the witless expression of terror on my face. I was dead last in competition order, and about fourteen others from Ireland and England had played before me and I expected I didnŐt have a prayer. I thought I was rocky, but the hall was huge and the dulcimer sounded great. Four tunes: hornpipe, jig, air and reel. I was so scared I started my reel in the wrong place but managed to slide into key, I guess imperceptibly.

Thomas Fischer and Lissi Klaus were there from Germany, So were Johnny Burns, friend and mentor from Dundalk, who with the Siamsa Ceili Band won the All-Ireland first place that year with the great Raury Kennedy at the helm, and Kim Hoffmann, beloved sweetheart. So were Amy Monstream and Jean Lewis, New England dulcimists extraordinaire, who were traveling in Ireland and came up to Sligo to see me compete, and took these two photos.

Note the dazed expression as I was handed my first All-Ireland shield. ThatŐs Joe Donovan, the great Irish dance luminary, on the left. He was assisting in the adjudication.



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