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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:58 am 
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Hello!

I have the great fortune to find myself with a week in Ireland (arriving into Dublin the day before St. Patrick's). I have never been to the country and am ecstatic with the thought of hearing as much traditional music as possible during this short time! I have a few questions for anyone who is either fortunate to be living there now or familiar with the country:

1. Are there any recommendations for getting away from the main crowds at the St. Patrick's Day celebration in Dublin and finding some lively sessions? I'm not thinking of playing, just hoping to find some magic in the midst of all the mayhem - any particular venues or pubs that might be good to check-out?? I imagine there may be music spilling out of every corner, but any specific recommendations would be appreciated.

2. Does anyone have any general recommendations for towns or areas anywhere in the country that might offer some lively evening sessions? I have been doing my best to research on-line and I certainly get the impression that sessions are common most everywhere in Ireland, but you certainly can't beat first-hand advice! We will have a rental car and a wide-open itinerary, so any ideas or places to find traditional music (or anywhere that just shouldn't be missed) would be awesome!

3. Finally, does anyone know of any whistle tutors or music schools that might see an adult student for a lesson or two? I'm hoping this will be my golden opportunity to receive some direct tutelage, which would go a LONG way for me, particularly being so isolated out here!

Well, thank you all for reading this! I may not have another opportunity in this lifetime to visit Ireland so I'm really hoping to make the most of it in the short, short period! As I mentioned, we will have a car, a whistle, and love for road trips, so any ideas of where to hunt for great music would be excellent!!

Thank you!

Rich


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:45 pm 
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We were there for the month of July in 2017, mostly in Galway. I had a hard time—no luck, actually—finding what I imagine to be a “traditional” session. I could find lots of places where people were performing ITM more or less, but as a performance rather than as a practice, if that makes sense. July is deep in the tourist season and after all why should Irish traditional musicians give up their culture to every joe tourist who buys a ticket? You may have better luck in the off season.

The session.org has a listing of active sessions—you could try there


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:00 pm 
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Listen to Clare.FM Mon-Fri, check your time zone difference for the program The West Wind 7:00pm-9:00pm in Ireland. Music on the west coast of Ireland but the program mentions what and where session pubs are happening. The shows are archived too so you can listen back to previous broadcasts. Check Facebook ClareFM too. I'm surprised that you haven't received more responses from the Ireland folk. :)

http://www.clare.fm/


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:20 am 
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We were there for the month of July in 2017, mostly in Galway. I had a hard time—no luck, actually—finding what I imagine to be a “traditional” session. I could find lots of places where people were performing ITM more or less, but as a performance rather than as a practice, if that makes sense.


You know, Galway has 'Tunes in the Church' which is a tremendous showcase of the very top of traditional musicians, curated by Cormac Begley. It's the real deal and it's on daily during the summer. Sure, they're in concert seting but you'd be hard pressed to find any better.

There are loads of places in Galway that have music all the time, you can do worse than go to the Sunday session in the Crane for example. But it's a fact of life that regular pub music events have an element of a gig/performance. Almost every regular, advertised session in the country will have a few musicians paid to turn up and the more busy locations will have had to resort to sticking a few microphones up so visitors can actually hear the music. Noisy pubs are just not conducive to music making.

It's a fact of life that this set up is an aspect of traditional music, it's one of its functions. When I meet other musicians the first question they will ask is 'are you playing much?' Which doesn't mean if I play a lot of music but rather a query about the number of pub/session gigs played (and perhaps a chance to get in on it).


Music is probably most visible when it is played in pubs but it's a misconception that traditional music belongs (only) there. The whole social context of traditional music is much broader than having tunes in a pub. There's an awful lot of music played in peoples' houses, without interference, over tea and sandwiches. Weddings, funerals and whatever other occasions that may turn up. Quiet pubs as well, arranged at short notice, with only participants knowing about it, often in out of the way places or at less obvious times. A meeting of friends, a social occasion, not something you paste on the internet. And unlikely for anyone not 'in' on it to walk into by chance.

I would recommend not to approach all this with too many preconceived notions of what it is or what it should or shouldn't be. Enjoy it for what it is. The days you could sit with men like these are in the past. That generation is gone, it's a different world now:

Image


As to the original question: March is a bit of an odd time, overshadowed by the old patron saint's feast and perhaps some people staying in for Lent (although that's not so much a factor these days), winterfestivals over (Corofin trad fest is the first week of March, for example, and just about the last of the winter run). I'd suggest to 'go West' and hope for not too inclement weather. And enjoy what you find, as you find it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:37 am 
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Visited central Ireland a couple of years ago (pre-whistle) and played tourist with the masses. Galway was one of our favourite stops and stumbled (sometimes literally) on some great live acts. I envy you greatly as I watch the snow pile higher. Hoping to make it to Derry and Belfast in the Spring.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:01 am 
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There's one thing to keep in mind as it wrongfoots some visitors sometimes: music often doesn't start until 10-10.30 unless you find yourself in a place that caters specifically to visitors. Check locally before going out.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:09 pm 
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If its music you want, go to Clare.

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Heres a few tunes round a table, first three sets;

http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/werty
http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/jigs-willie
http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/jigs


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:56 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
We were there for the month of July in 2017, mostly in Galway. I had a hard time—no luck, actually—finding what I imagine to be a “traditional” session. I could find lots of places where people were performing ITM more or less, but as a performance rather than as a practice, if that makes sense.


You know, Galway has 'Tunes in the Church' which is a tremendous showcase of the very top of traditional musicians, curated by Cormac Begley. It's the real deal and it's on daily during the summer. Sure, they're in concert seting but you'd be hard pressed to find any better.

There are loads of places in Galway that have music all the time, you can do worse than go to the Sunday session in the Crane for example. But it's a fact of life that regular pub music events have an element of a gig/performance. Almost every regular, advertised session in the country will have a few musicians paid to turn up and the more busy locations will have had to resort to sticking a few microphones up so visitors can actually hear the music. Noisy pubs are just not conducive to music making.

It's a fact of life that this set up is an aspect of traditional music, it's one of its functions. When I meet other musicians the first question they will ask is 'are you playing much?' Which doesn't mean if I play a lot of music but rather a query about the number of pub/session gigs played (and perhaps a chance to get in on it).


Music is probably most visible when it is played in pubs but it's a misconception that traditional music belongs (only) there. The whole social context of traditional music is much broader than having tunes in a pub. There's an awful lot of music played in peoples' houses, without interference, over tea and sandwiches. Weddings, funerals and whatever other occasions that may turn up. Quiet pubs as well, arranged at short notice, with only participants knowing about it, often in out of the way places or at less obvious times. A meeting of friends, a social occasion, not something you paste on the internet. And unlikely for anyone not 'in' on it to walk into by chance.

I would recommend not to approach all this with too many preconceived notions of what it is or what it should or shouldn't be. Enjoy it for what it is. The days you could sit with men like these are in the past. That generation is gone, it's a different world now:

Image


As to the original question: March is a bit of an odd time, overshadowed by the old patron saint's feast and perhaps some people staying in for Lent (although that's not so much a factor these days), winterfestivals over (Corofin trad fest is the first week of March, for example, and just about the last of the winter run). I'd suggest to 'go West' and hope for not too inclement weather. And enjoy what you find, as you find it.


I did know about the church in Galway but my wife and daughter, then 12, don’t fully share my enthusiasm for the music.

I did see some excellent musicians while there. As a lifelong Irish American I’ve grown to very much dislike the kind of sentimental stagey irishness that Americans have wallowed in since the 1860s and that Ireland is understandably willing to cater to, at least to an extent. So any whiff of “show” tends to make me feel like I’m not quite in the real place.

As a regularly gigging musician who’s played virtually every kind of crap gig that pays, I can certainly understand and respect making a living at it, and the need to balance the music one loves against the music that pays.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:54 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
There's one thing to keep in mind as it wrongfoots some visitors sometimes: music often doesn't start until 10-10.30 unless you find yourself in a place that caters specifically to visitors. Check locally before going out.


Haha, is that a Christy Moore quote or just a saying?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:47 am 
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I did know about the church in Galway but my wife and daughter, then 12, don’t fully share my enthusiasm for the music.


Well, yes that's a different problem then. Although they could wander off for an hour or perhaps two in the afternoon while you take in the tunes in the church.

Surprised you didn't find your way to the obvious places like The Crane, Tigh Coilli or Neachtain's and others that would have had good music. Whistlers Mick Crehan and Seán Ryan's long standing session would probably have done it for you.

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I 'd be reluctant to give general recommendations, people have such different expectations it's hard to know what to recommend.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:33 pm 
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This image should be made into a shirt!! I'll take a Lg.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:28 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
I did know about the church in Galway but my wife and daughter, then 12, don’t fully share my enthusiasm for the music.


Well, yes that's a different problem then. Although they could wander off for an hour or perhaps two in the afternoon while you take in the tunes in the church.

Surprised you didn't find your way to the obvious places like The Crane, Tigh Coilli or Neachtain's and others that would have had good music. Whistlers Mick Crehan and Seán Ryan's long standing session would probably have done it for you.

Image

I 'd be reluctant to give general recommendations, people have such different expectations it's hard to know what to recommend.


You’re surprised that someone going to a city he’s never visited before in a country he’s never been to before would have trouble finding specific bars?

I did in fact ask Ben March, from whom I bought my bodhran, and he did not suggest any of those places you mention. Perhaps he was reluctant to give general recommendations for the reasons you suggest, which again leaves me puzzled why you would be surprised that I didn’t find my way to places I didn’t know about and which were not recommended to me by the one informed person I knew.

As mentioned, we did see lots of music in performance. It was delightful.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:44 pm 
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There are usually some good sessions in Doolin. There's also a trad pub crawl in Dublin, led by Trinity College students. Still kind of performance oriented, but good music. Takes off from Gogarty''s pub in Temple Bar.

Check The Session web site, but be careful, as the listings are often out of date. It's a good starting point, but contact the venues themselves.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:12 am 
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You’re surprised that someone going to a city he’s never visited before in a country he’s never been to before would have trouble finding specific bars?


I don't know, search 'traditional music pubs Galway' and the interwebs will spit out all the usual suspects listed on more than a few sites. And most places don't exactly make a secret of having music inside. Galway isn't a big place and just walking around it would seem to me you can't help stumbling into these places. Hence my, mild, surprise at you saying you weren't able to find music. Especially when spending a month there.

But I take your point, there are family commitments and it may take a while to find your way around it all and separate the wheat from the chaff, learn what's what and all that. And perhaps things like that would seem too obvious to me aren't that obvious from the outside.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:06 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
And perhaps things like that would seem too obvious to me aren't that obvious from the outside.


I think this is very true. Walk around any Irish town with a tourism industry and you'll find a bunch of pubs advertising "Live Irish Music," "Traditional Music Tonight," etc. Some are gigs by bands singing "Dirty Old Town" and the like, some are Riverdance-inspired dinner shows,

If you venture down to Cork, you'll find a lot of listings for trad here: http://www.theleesessions.com/

The Sin É has music every night and 6:30 and 9:30. A small pub that gets fairly crowded, but for my money it's the best place for a "pure drop" trad session in town.

The Corner House next door also has some excellent music, although somewhat less frequent (still most days, just not every day).

The Spailpín Fanach also has music every night, although some nights are more sing-song-y than others (still fun, just want to make sure I'm not misleading anyone). The Lads who are there on Wednesdays and Saturdays are fairly welcoming, so this would be a good one to go to if you wanted to try to play a set or two.

If you're looking for more of a gig-like feel, the Oliver Plunkett has trad a few nights a week. They also have a lot of "Dirty Old Town"-style ballad groups, as well as rock and a bunch of other genres. There are two spaces, one upstairs and one downstairs. The one upstairs is almost always some kind of Irish music.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a few friends of mine, a band called Torcán that plays in the South County in Douglas, a suburb of Cork City. They have a recurring gig there on Wednesdays and put on a great show. Be sure to eat at KC and Sons, a local fast food joint that is legendary around there.

The Mills and the Abbey Hotel in Baile Bhúirne also have some fun music if you're on the road between Cork and Killarney. The Top of Coom on the border between Cork and Kerry is a fun place to visit regardless of music, but has music as well somewhat regularly.


And here are some more general recommendations of places I've heard and played great music in. I've bolded the ones I go back to a fair bit.

Belfast: McHugh's, The Sunflower (it's been a few years since I've been, but the sessions there were absolutely excellent)

Clifden: Griffin's, Lowry's

Dingle: The Mighty Session, An Droichead Beag

Dublin: The Piper's Corner, The Cobblestone, O'Donoghue's

Ennis: The Old Ground Hotel, Cruise's, Brogan's

Galway: Tig Coilí, Taaffe's, The Crane

Killarney: Murphy's, Buckley's, O'Connor's

Miltown Malbay: Friel's, Hillery's

Westport: Matt Molloy's

Most decent-sized towns have pubs with trad sessions at least once or twice a week. You'll have to ask around for specifics, but they're there, especially in tourist-oriented places.


PLEASE NOTE: I have specifically included only places that I've been to within the past 5 years. Still, things come and go pretty easily. The bolded ones are surer bets than the rest, but you should definitely check on all of them if you're going to plan a trip around visiting a place for the music. Even mainstays like Matt Molloy's, the Cobblestone, or Tig Coilí might end up unexpectedly closed for a week or two, so it is always a good idea to check beforehand.


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