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David Colpitts

Going To Ireland And Curious About Sessions

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My wife and I are, at last, going to Ireland this summer, and are planning our too-short-already week. We are probably going to spend two nights in Dublin, and the rest focused in the southwest. My dream is B&B/small hotels, within walking distance of pubs with friendly sessions. Any suggestions in the vein of "you gotta go to this place?" I guess I really hope some small places, maybe midweek, will be welcoming to Yankees only two or three years into the repertoire, so I might join in if I know the tune.


Any advice will be appreciated.





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My wife and I went to Ireland a two years ago. Our music highlights were a trad session in Galway; a regional Fleadh Cheoil competition; The Lee Sessions in Cork; the music scene in Dingle and Doolin; and of course Temple Bar In Dublin.


Galway - I had an acquaintance who was a trad session leader at the Western Hotel. This is actually a great traditional pub and the musicians were local - there were only a few tourists and we had a great time. Unfortunately I didn't have room for my concertina or anything much else on the trip but did bring along a set of bones which I was able to put to use.


Fleadh Cheoil - Ireland has a nationally based music education/mentoring/competition system and throughout the summer each county has a regional Fleadh Cheoil competition. We went to one in a small town southwest of Dublin and west of the National Stud Farm and spent all morning and part of the afternoon watching the competition (many amazing young musicians). In the afternoon and early evening we enjoying the many impromptu sessions that sprang up all over town.


The Lee Sessions - In Cork they have a rotating trad session that plays in a different pub each week of the month. My understanding is that the city (or some other public organization) help fund it. It is actually a pick up performance with a revolving set of some of the best musicians in Ireland. Apparently you never know who will be performing - it's whom ever is in town and not playing somewhere else that night. The one I saw all the musicians were masters and they were trying to out do each other in friendly competition. It was the best music we heard on the trip. I understand there is something similar in Dublin.


West coast music towns - We visited some of the famous music pubs in Dingle and Doolin. Tip - if you are going to attend any of these sessions be sure to plan on putting up for the night in one of the many nearby B&B's or hostels as you DO NOT want to be out driving at night. Ireland has very strict drinking and driving laws and the roads in western Ireland are mostly unmarked and treacherous. We didn't do that and couldn't hang around for the best music.


Temple Bar - We found the Dublin music scene less to our liking being more commercial and crowded - that's not to say we didn't have a rollicking good time there.


I would recommend that you do your research ahead of time by using the many great resources on the Internet. Decide what you want to do ahead of time and plan to be at the right place at the right time to do it.

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