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A Little Authenticity…Toe-tapping Irish Music

Anúna in Clifden, Ireland

The heart and sole of Ireland lives in the country’s pubs – and I don’t mean because of the Guinness, although let me assure you that plays a role. But it’s the country’s music and warm enthusiasm that keeps the yanks like myself enthralled with Ireland’s  rich history and amazing music.

I have to admit, my fondest memories from Ireland include a cold pint of Bulmers Irish cider and the bundled warmth of crowded bodies packed around the live Irish music filling the small space while a friendly local started the evening with an observation about the weather and ended knowing my whole life story.

That’s the description of an ideal night in Ireland. Unlike the beginning of the trip, the electronic and trance-filled dance music of nightclubs in Melbourne, Ireland offers an experience completely opposite the “partying” of other backpacker regions. That’s just not what it’s about here.

The small town of Doolin, near the Cliffs of Moher, had some of the best Irish music from the trip. But Clifden ran a very close second. The Clifden Art’s Festival was running for the week I was in Connemara, and that meant live local music in every bar all over town. As the hero of the hostel (wholly because of my rental car, not because I’m actually that cool) we were able to commute the 15 minute drive between the warm and cozy Old Monastery Hostel in Letterfrack and the much more happening town of Clifden (and by “much” let me assure you Clifden is still an incredibly small town).

The guy on the fiddle, Fergal Scahill, is an All-Ireland fiddle champion and Eva and I jammed out for the evening listening to these guys get the entire bar riled up, tapping their foot, hootin’ and singin’ along.

And because of the Art’s week, Anúna, an Irish choir group that performs internationally sang – this video clip is of an entirely different side of Ireland’s music.

Rather than the rowdy pubs in town, Anúna sang in Clifden’s largest spired church. They were entirely lovely and had some heart breaking melodies – there’s just something about harmony during a capella that puts a little squeeze around my heart when I listen.

Friends from the hostel I just never got tired of the Irish music; that might not be the case for everyone, but I listen to it often in my everyday life, and lounging around in the pubs and bouncing around the floor to a jig is a like little slice of utopia – in fact if it weren’t so blustery and mind-numbingly cold in Ireland I might never have left, that’s how much I loved it there, in the country’s lively little towns.

It pains me a little to talk to other travelers who just visit Dublin or one of the other bigger cities – it’s just not the same as the countryside. The biggest reason to venture outside of the cities and into the towns? Nowhere else can you see, hear, and feel the heart of Ireland and the warmth of the Irish; the locals want to chat with you, the pubs have amazing music, and the beer is tasty and cold…and plentiful  ;-)

Where have you heard the best local music from around the world?!

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  • CandiceW

    “That’s the description of an ideal night in Ireland.” — > Shannon, I totally agree 100%. It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a bad time with this kinda music playing!

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks Megan! Now I can't help but ask if you have a favorite spot in Dublin to share…while I don't go there often, I will be back and would love to know of a great local place with trad music in the city :-)

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    • http://www.facebook.com/meganeaves Megan Eaves

      enjoyable piece on irish music. i wholeheartedly agree that there is a certain charm to the irish countryside, and certainly connemara is one of my favorite places on earth. but after living in dublin, a city that took a while to grow on me, and realized that there is plenty of truly authentic irish-ness there, too, including one of the best regular local trad sessions i've ever been to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/meganeaves Megan Eaves

    enjoyable piece on irish music. i wholeheartedly agree that there is a certain charm to the irish countryside, and certainly connemara is one of my favorite places on earth. but after living in dublin, a city that took a while to grow on me, and realized that there is plenty of truly authentic irish-ness there, too, including one of the best regular local trad sessions i've ever been to.

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks Megan! Now I can't help but ask if you have a favorite spot in Dublin to share…while I don't go there often, I will be back and would love to know of a great local place with trad music in the city :-)

  • CandiceW

    “That’s the description of an ideal night in Ireland.” — > Shannon, I totally agree 100%. It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a bad time with this kinda music playing!

    • ShannonOD

      Right?! Now add a pint of the freshest Guinness imaginable and the evening is just fantastic :-)

  • ShannonOD

    Right?! Now add a pint of the freshest Guinness imaginable and the evening is just fantastic :-)

  • ShannonOD

    I am with you on the Irish music – it's the sole reason why I never win the war of the iPods – no one ever wants to listen to my Irish tunes! Anuna was really amazing to see live, their voices just reverberated beautifully through the huge old church :-) Just let me know when you head there…Doolin (the Cliffs of Moher) def has to be on your list for great live trad sessions!

    • http://www.theplanetd.com/ Dave and Deb

      I love Irish Music. I agree Good old toe tappin music over trance music for us any day!

  • joanna_haugen

    I am head over heels in love with Irish music. My Irish music collection is out of control, and I'm so jealous you got to see Anuna live! I have all their CDs, and I just got their Christmas album after the holidays last year, so it's all I've been listening to this year (well … that and all my other Celtic Christmas music). When I make it to Ireland, you definitely have to point me in the right direction to find all the right music ~ it's the main reason I want to visit your country!

    • ShannonOD

      I am with you on the Irish music – it's the sole reason why I never win the war of the iPods – no one ever wants to listen to my Irish tunes! Anuna was really amazing to see live, their voices just reverberated beautifully through the huge old church :-) Just let me know when you head there…Doolin (the Cliffs of Moher) def has to be on your list for great live trad sessions!

  • http://www.theplanetd.com/ Dave and Deb

    I love Irish Music. I agree Good old toe tappin music over trance music for us any day!

  • joanna_haugen

    I am head over heels in love with Irish music. My Irish music collection is out of control, and I'm so jealous you got to see Anuna live! I have all their CDs, and I just got their Christmas album after the holidays last year, so it's all I've been listening to this year (well … that and all my other Celtic Christmas music). When I make it to Ireland, you definitely have to point me in the right direction to find all the right music ~ it's the main reason I want to visit your country!