It wasn’t long ago in Ireland that nomads went around constantly bringing traditional music with them from town to town. Wherever they passed they would bring fresh musical styles to the various sessions they would play, and occasionally they would even teach their own unique flavour of trad music to students through traditional music schools and colleges.
While there are less nomadic trad musicians these days in Ireland, the trad music session is still a quintessential part of Irish culture that completes any visit to an Irish pub by creating the perfect atmosphere and soundtrack to an evening out. So here are 3 examples of some of the best places to catch a “trad music session” on your visit to Ireland, so break out the maps, grab some car insurance from Chill Insurance and hit the road to take in a couple of the truly best stops in the Emerald Isle.
Doolin Music House, County Clare
The village of Doolin really stands out from the crowd because it is widely acclaimed to be the heart and soul of Irish trad music and sessions in Ireland. Doolin is a small village on the wild Atlantic coast road in County Clare, but it’s this small size and fairly remote location that has made it such a melting pot of trad musicians and sessions with the village having numerous pubs playing up to 38 sessions a week in the summer months!
Literally all the pubs have session music in Doolin and so it’s impossible to really say which is the best, but for something much more intimate you can go and see Doolin’s legend trad musicians, Christy and Sheila Barry in the comfort of their spacious living room huddled around a warm fire! This has earned it the name Doolin Music House and is a special way to listen to a trad session along with Irish folk stories in the comfort of the house of some of the best trad musicians in the world.
Matt Molloy’s, Westport, County Mayo
County Mayo in the rugged north-west of Ireland is know well for it’s traditional Irish music summer schools, where trad musicians from around the country teach their skills to eager students so that the traditional music will be passed own to the next generation. Matt Molloy’s in Westport town is the stand out pub in County Mayo, being built in 1896 it has retained it’s authenticity and is famous throughout County Mayo (and beyond) for it’s 7 times a week nightly trad sessions.
The pub is named after it’s current owner, Matt Molloy, who is famous throughout Ireland for being one of the best flute players in the world in the trad band the Chieftains and Planxty. So it goes without saying that this attracts some of the finest trad musicians Ireland has to offer.
The Crane Bar, Galway
Trad music connoisseurs from around the world often make The Crane Bar in the city of Galway their first port of call, with its reputation for trad music sessions every night of the week. The pub still has it’s 19th century Victorian-era exterior welcoming visitors and actually consists of two levels, with the ground floor housing much of the musical sessions. In recent years it has actually started to also offer acoustic nights and musicians of different genres, however it is still infamous and known best for it’s nightly trad sessions that begin at 9.30pm every night.
These three suggestions should give you a small taste of both some of the most eclectic and the most renowned places in Ireland to catch some authentic trad sessions.