So a few hours ago I finished my 32 Pianos tour in St. Rahan's Church, Knockainey, Co. Limerick. It summed the whole thing up beautifully really.
I was joined by two fantastic musicians - one being the main stalwart of the tour - Gerry Grennan (who played with me on 14 of the 32 gigs). Also by Declan Davern, a Limerick singer who I came across on youtube in the car park of Portarlington Golf Club (Gig 9 of the tour) while hurriedly learning There Is an Isle to accompany the Golf Club Choir for the gig that night.
Declan came up on youtube as the most watched version of There is an Isle and tonight he led the audience in a rousing rendition of the same song at the end of the gig. Symmetry.
To do each gig with one colleague from Sligo, and one local...was the original plan for all the gigs - it didn't always work out like that - but was really great on nights like tonight when it worked.
The sense of community in the pub afterwards, the sense of having brought my music to a place where no-one knew me, and it having worked - the sense of a job well done.
Really interesting to see who comes to these gigs - my Mum surprised me (!), and met a friend there. Also there was a cousin of Dad's, Gerry's partner Jo (who brought champagne!), Mary Carroll from Sligo and her daughter Triona, Manus McGuire from Sligo, someone else who said they had been told by someone who saw me in Ennis, and of course all the locals from Knockainey - it makes all the difference when you have people working on the ground promoting you in each place.
As I said tonight and many other nights, when you are coming somewhere for the first time, every single body in the crowd makes such a difference, and thanks so much to everyone who spread the word for me throughout the tour.
It will hopefully be easier next time, now that so many more people all over Ireland have seen me and know what I'm about. Hard work pays off in the long run...so people tell me anyway!
What an experience though, what learning. It was mad, epic, tiring, challenging, fun, but at the end of it all I know that gigging my own music has a future, something I couldn't know for sure 3 months ago.
For now, it's time to chill, reflect. Go to a friend's wedding tomorrow and celebrate. 2016 is another year...
Till the next one...