Sometimes dreams come true.  And sometimes reality exceeds your hopes.

That happened to me---and my four-year-old daughter---at the Palace.  Thanks to CAPA, Columbus was treated to THE great Irish band in a concert that can only be described as magical, mystical, moving ... magnificent.  

About the band, there's little you can say beyond that they are the True Masters of Irish music.  The leprechaun-like Paddy (his real name), chief of the Chieftains, put it as simply as it needed to be put:  "Thank you for coming tonight.  Forty-two years, forty-two albums."

Every one of them a treasure.  For years I've dreamed of seeing the Chieftains.  They played the zoo a few years ago but I couldn't go.  Last night I almost couldn't go again.  I was just about out the door and onto my bike to head downtown when my four-year-old, Shoshanna, started to howl.  She wanted to come.  It hadn't occurred to me.  How would she handle the somewhat stiff, somewhat formal Palace?  

On the other hand, it was certainly better than her sitting on the couch watching that "Beauty and the Beast" video for the 42d time.

So I laid down the law:  "If you get bored, you'll just have lie down and go to sleep.  Daddy's not going to leave."

Little did I know.

We arrived just in time for the last two songs of the opening act, the excellent Del McCoury country group. Shoshi, overwhelmed by her first trip to a big theater, was awestruck and subdued.  She did say she liked the music.   A good sign.  

We spent the intermission outside, dodging the cigarette addicts.

Then came the Chieftains.  Four pleasant-looking middle-aged men ambled onto the stage and got comfortable.  Paddy talked as if we were in his living room, reclining with a pint, all kicked back to have at it a bit.  

And that's what happened.  Except these relaxed, ordinary-looking Irishmen are absolute masters.  The relaxed drum-fiddle-bass-whistle ensemble rambled and chuckled through one low-key masterpiece after the next, joking and clowning with an appreciative audience.  

Along the way they brought out:

two lanky Canadians who danced up a storm (one then sat in with the fiddle, and referred to his brother as "the John Travolta of the step dance");
a fine Texas guitar man with the voice and attitude of an Austin bar singer;
a gorgeous Cornwall chellist with long blonde hair and bare feet, a blinding smile and the stage presence of exactly the kind of a hippie so many of us went looking for at Woodstock;
and a master harpist, who smiled and played beautifully, but seemed the most serious of the lot.  

Thrown in for spice were a virtuoso stepping couple and four fully-costumed females who seemed to have wandered in from Bulgaria.  

All backed by the purest, most unpretentious Irish jigs and ballads, heart-wrenching love songs and sly patter imaginable.  Ahhh, the Chieftains.  The best in Irish music since 1961.  Here they were, in the flesh, even better, more colorful, more hypnotic, more just pure flat-out fun than I could ever have imagined.

And Shoshanna?  Bored?  

Now, as you might guess from her name, Shoshanna is not Irish.  But something green must run in our souls.  The minute the boys hit the drum and fiddle, me wee lass was up on her bare feet, dancing in the aisle, spinning her arms, throwing back her head, a smile as big as the Blarney Stone (which I kissed in 1967), sad when it was over.  And a little miffed she didn't get to dance on stage.  

Suffice it to say, I will take her again and again.  Just come back soon, Chieftains.  Please.