November 2013 Column in The Irish American News

Skinny, Mrs. Houli & Houli



Mike Houlihan

We’ve returned from Ireland just as we hit the deadline for The Irish American News, so this is going to be short but sweet.

The Skinny & Houli Show brought 25 hearty folks to Ireland from October 17-24 for the trip of a lifetime. We hit Dublin, Galway, Ennis, Killarney, and back to Dublin while consuming vast amounts of booze and laughing like we’ve never laughed before. As a matter of fact Skinny laughed so hard one night that he threw up! No lie!

No time to give you all the details, those will come on The Skinny & Houli Show over the next several weeks, but here’s a couple photos.

We met Mary Houlihan on the coast of Dingle, she’s about 89 years old and next to her thatch house is a 4,000-year-old beehive hut that our ancestors lived in and cursed the darkness. Mrs. Houlihan charges a couple Euro to visit the hut and for Americans she’ll take a couple US singles and she uses those when she visits her relations in the states. When I met her she had a pile of dough in her hand and invited me into her house. a lovely little place not unlike my baronial home in Berwyn.

So many great times during the course of our adventures. CIE Tours lined us up with a genius named Philip Duffy who spun historic tales, jokes, and stories while driving our big bus like it was a tiny Chevy. He’s got style, he’s got class, and he’s badass! Brilliant man.

Our first night in Galway my old pal Mike Monaghan, star of “Our Irish Cousins” joined us in the bar with his two brothers Ger and Joe. They entertained us and Mike gave a special welcome to our group before we had a lovely group dinner and then returned to find the Monaghan brothers still in the bar afterwards for more craic.

Along the way we were entertained by Kathleen Keane in pubs as she fiddled and sang. We hit a bar in Killarney, Sheehan’s, where Kathleen joined a trad session in progress. Mike Miller remarked on a particular group of inbred lookin’ fellas in the bar, “Their family tree must look like a utility pole!”

As we drove through Ballybunnion, Duffy our driver told us of former Prez Clinton’s visit and how the town paid a woman named ‘Monica” five thousand Euros to remove her sign from in front of her shop during his visit so Clinton wouldn’t be embarrassed. Skinny remarked, “It was probably a cigar shop!”

When a flock of sheep held up all traffic on the road to Dingle, Duffy our driver shouted out, “No Skinny, you can’t get out of the bus!”

Duffy sticks his head out the window and tells the sheepherder, “I’ve a fella in the back here who’s mad for ‘em!”  The guy yells back, “For 70 Euro I’ll deliver her to your hotel!”

Then Duffy tells us, “Know how they make virgin wool? Ugly Sheep!”

And so it went.

Our group was inter-generational with folks in their late twenties up to those who could pass for eighty. All joined together in the madness and we lived a lifetime in seven days.

We saw more rainbows than you could find in Boys Town on a Sunday in June and felt the presence of Our Lord in our midst every day as we marveled at the beauty of this magnificent country.

So there ‘ya are. The spirit speaks louder in Ireland. We’re going back next year for The Skinny & Houli Ireland Tour II. Join us!