The Curse of Darth Vader

There I was in the heart of Gaelic country, the village of Ballyferriter on the Dingle peninsular. The beer was flowing – we were in Tig Bhric, the pub of the West Kerry brewery – the accordions and violins were warming up...and I had my flute out on the table awaiting the right moment.

More musicians gradually filed in and added themselves to the circle. Two teenage fiddlers were dropped off by their mother. The players took it in turns to start a reel; occasionally soloists would burst forth into Gaelic song.

By and by I joined in from where I was sitting. A man looked over and motioned for me to join the group. He asked me where I was from. I said the US, but also mentioned I was originally from the UK. He leaned in saying, "It's not your fault."

He asked me which songs I knew and I replied that I didn't really know any songs, I usually just join in. Which was true. Yes, I'm one of those irritating guys who asks to sit in with the band for a song or two – with varying degrees of success.

The guy raised his eyebrows and said, "Oh, that's not good enough." I didn't know it until someone later told me that these musicians were top notch, some of the best in Ireland. When I joined in on the next song, the guy motioned for me to stop. "You can have the next song," he said.

It didn't go so well. I started off with a couple of trills and random melodies, but was greeted only by blank looks and a couple of hesitant notes from an accordionist. "They're not following you," he said. I slunk back to my seat and nursed my beer.

Later the guy came over and said, "Ah, my new friend. Well, I'll be off."

I said, "Oh, you're going. Maybe I'll try again." "Take your time," he said.

"Don't worry," said my companion patting my knee. And then I realized. "Darth Vader must have got to him." My companion's puzzled look deserved an explanation. Well, to begin with there was apparently quite a big Star Wars influence in this part of the world. Part of The Last Jedi movie (Star Wars VIII) was filmed nearby up on Sybil Head. The film crew were in town for six months. All types of Star Wars enthusiasts were known to visit the area and wild-looking Skellig Island on the other side of the peninsular.

I had personally met Darth Vader at the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria, BC...I was not a fan. He was there, all dressed in black – helmet, facemask, the whole bit...and he was playing the violin. When I attempted to jam along with my flute, he royally dissed me. I knew how Luke Skywalker must have felt. And it was now obvious to me that my new Irish friend had been infected with Darth Vaderism.


– Tony Forder 2/20