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Rare Ould Times on the Ferry to Nantucket

NANTUCKET SOUND – It was a rare ferry journey from Hyannis to Nantucket when the members of the Irish band from Falmouth, Rare Ould Times, took out their instruments and began to play, “The Boys from Killybegs.”

The fisherman’s song seemed most appropriate for a ferry ride, with its lyrics “now you’re heading out to sea and the wind is blowing free” and then, “well, you’ll never leave the sea for whoever you may be, when it’s in your blood it’s hard to live on land.” Amen to that.

Dogs wagged their tails, children bobbed their heads, and ferry passengers from all over the boat gathered around the musicians.

The musicians appeared to be enjoying the crowd. Lead singer Kevin McGeough, a native of County Armagh who also spent years in County Donegal, played the guitar and sang the rousing tunes. Heather Sherburne Swanson, who said her ancestors are from County Cork, but she is from Arlington, played the fiddle. And Jack Dolan, who likes to joke about his Irish props by saying he is “from County Worcester,” played the bodhran, an Irish drum. Dickie Nolan, from County Wicklow in Ireland, is the band’s keyboard player but he did not take out his instrument for the impromptu ferry concert.

The band was on their way to a gig at Cisco Brewery on Nantucket. On the Cape side of Nantucket Sound, Rare Ould Times play frequently at O’Shea’s Olde Inne in West Dennis and at “Whisky & Stout Sessions” Wednesdays from 8 to 10pm at Grumpy’s Pub in Falmouth.

It was their first time playing music on the ferry, Dolan said. It was his idea to get out the instruments while they were seated around the large table on the first floor in the rear of the ship. “Why not? We have the room,” Dolan said.

He called the performance “marketing” for their gig at the brewery. (See our video of a Nantucket band, Buckle & Shake, playing at the Cisco Brewery.)

Later that evening, on the last ferry of the night heading back to Hyannis, the group again took out their instruments and this time played some rock and roll (the Beatles’ “Twist & Shout”) and some reggae (Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry About A Thing)”.

Dolan said he hoped the playing didn’t annoy any passengers. By the looks of the crowd, it appeared quite the opposite. It was more like an unexpected gift, 30 miles out to sea.

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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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