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.
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?!