independent

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Loudon Wainwright III loves the Harbour Ukes

A still from the Harbour Ukuleles’ YouTube video.
A still from the Harbour Ukuleles’ YouTube video.
Loudon Wainwright III

Mary Fogarty

The Harbour Ukes got the seal of approval from songwriter Loudon Wainwright for their cover of his composition 'The Swimming Song'.

The ukulele group has members as young as eight right up to people in their 60s. They meet at the Harbour Bar in Bray every Tuesday under the leadership of Pat Byrne.

Writing in the New York Times this year, Wainwright said that the best swimming spot in the world is the Forty Foot in Sandycove.

'The first section of "Ulysses" ends with Buck Mulligan taking a dip there, plunging into "the scrotum-tightening sea." Originally a men's-only nude bathing spot, it is now frequented by swim-suited crazies of both sexes,' he wrote. 'I've been going to the 40 Foot for about 30 years, and it's always really cold. It's not really a swim, as such, but rather an in-and-out experience, often punctuated by a bloodcurdling scream upon submersion.'

'I'm from Dun Laoghaire originally,' said Pat. 'I probably had my first swim in the Forty Foot.'

'When I saw that he rated the Forty Foot first in the world, I thought we could do something with The Swimming Song,' said Pat. 'I had already taught it to my students and we do a good version. So I said let's do a project.' They made their way to the swimming spot, had a dip, and recorded a video. At the time of going to press, the video had exceeded 7,000 views. 'That's not bad for a little ukulele group,'s aid Pat. He had worked on Loudon Wainwright's gig in the Olympia about two years ago, and knew his agent Paul Cahrles in England. He sent on the recording to ask for permission to use the song. Not only did Wainwright grant said permission, but he emailed Pat and said 'Wow! This is the best cover ever! My compliments to Pat and all the strummers!'

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