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Vin Mannix column | Magic, music one night in County Mayo

Murrisk was the town and Campbell’s Pub the place in County Mayo.

It was summer 1993 in Ireland. We had stopped at a bed-and-breakfast for the night, and while my mother and sister read after dinner I went for a pint.

Campbell’s was nearby.

Behind it is Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain where St. Patrick fasted 40 days in 441 A.D. and is the site of an annual pilgrimage.

It is here St. Patrick also famously banished snakes from Ireland, and amusing renderings decorated the pub, which was quiet.

Not much happening here, I thought as I ordered a Guinness.

After some small talk, the bartender said there was going to be a session in Campbell’s that night — traditional music by the locals and Irish dancing, too.

This was a Monday or Tuesday, not exactly big nights you’d expect people to be out.

Plus it was raining.

I had another pint and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, I paid up, said goodbye, ran through the rain and jumped into my rental car.

Moments later there was a rapping at my window.

It was the bartender.

Hunched over in the downpour, he was beckoning me to come back into the pub.

Crazy, huh?

So I ran back in.

Lo and behold, the place was filling up with musicians and dancers.

What had been a dark cheerless pub minutes before was gradually transformed into a lively roomful of Irish music with the sound of fiddles and tin whistles and borans.

There were several step dancers keeping up with the rhythmic playing, too.

Where they appeared from and how they fit all this merriment into the little pub was a wonder.

It was one of those magical nights where you ask, is this really happening?

Indeed, it did.

I’ll never forget it.

I didn’t tell Mom or my sister what had happened at Campbell’s that night as we continued our vacation.

Not that they wouldn’t have believed me.

They’d have been mad they didn’t go to Campbell’s Pub, too.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification purposes.