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Post Info TOPIC: Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?
Where is the best Irish TRAD music in Ireland? [9 vote(s)]

spontaneous...could be anywhere...
22.2%
County Donegal
0.0%
County Mayo
0.0%
County Clare
33.3%
County Kerry
11.1%
Dublin
0.0%
Galway
0.0%
Aran Islands
11.1%
in my shower
0.0%
Kilkenny
0.0%
County Cork
0.0%
County Sligo
0.0%
Matt Malloy's in Westport
22.2%


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Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?


Where are the best villages & pubs in Ireland for lively TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos" with unaccompanied singing? I am planning our second trip to Ireland for September 2011. Woo-hoo! aww

We want 2 weeks full of the very best pub sessions of lively Irish TRAD music, and that rare spontaneous treat...unaccompanied solos..."sean-nos". Our 2-week Ireland itinerary will be focused on the best of Irish music, and wild soulful Irish scenery. Did I mention romance as well? wink

I cannot find the web-site which I used for our first trip to Ireland. It actually listed the Irish pubs and which nights of the week they have "TRAD" music planned and which have the best reputations for great music confuse.

Some of you may say, just leave it to chance...but this didn't work on our first trip to Ireland. For example, in Dingle, I figured there would be plenty of good Irish TRAD during our 3 nights there...I didn't look up any particular pubs. But surprisingly, in Dingle, that wasn't where we found our favorite music sessions. We wandered around and heard some music, but it wasn't our favorite. It was ok for us.

Our favorite music sessions in Ireland (June or July 2006) were at the pubs which I had chosen in advance, using a web-site for musicians, which actually tells you which pubs are the best for TRAD and which nights of the week you can hear the music. Using this web-site (which I have lost now), I selected, for example, Matt Molloy's in Westport, and Greene's pub in Ballyvaughan...and indeed those 2 places were where we found astonishingly great music... I made sure to be in town on the right nights of the week. It worked out very well. We also loved the barn dance (set dancing) in Kilfenora...I think it was at Vaughns? It's been a few years!!! This was also planned, on my part.

We also love wild Irish scenery. I am trying to narrow down our trip to 4 or 5 "base" spots, where we will spend 3 nights in each spot...where there is amazing wild Irish scenery and great Irish TRAD & craic in the pubs.

So far, Connemara region and Donegal are very high priorities. Also Kilkenny.

Does anyone know of a web-site which keeps updated info on the pubs sessions?

Of course, when we get to Ireland, we will definitely check on the pub schedules immediately, and see if there have been any changes...and also we will consult our hostess at the b&bs where we will stay.

There are other counties which are tempting as well, but we'd like to see a few areas in greater detail. I am open to hearing about anybody's experience with WHERE is the best TRAD music & "sean-nos" to be found in Ireland?

Thanks everybody! biggrin

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Melissa,

During our Aug 2009 trip, we found that the southern part of County Sligo was a hot-bed for trad Irish music....mostly instrumental. There were at least 2 nights of trad in 2 pubs in Gurteen...in Aug  it was Mon and Tues night. A notable musician; flute and fiddler, Peter Horan led the sessions both nights. Outstanding Music!. Be sure to get ready to stand up for the Irish National Anthem....the last music of the evening! If you contact "The Churchview B&B in Gurteen, Jacci will have the information you are looking for....and by the way she has an outstanding place to stay, mere steps from both pubs!

The whole region from Sligo town and on south is known for great music, and a visit to the Coleman Music Center in Gurteen would be a MUST for you based on your interest in Trad Music. We spent hours in there, and they have a theatre that features live Trad Sessions in the summer, don't know about Sept. Jacci may have their schedule too. Just down the road, in Tobercurry we found good music too, at Kilronan's Pub. They had "Irish Night" complete with trad, dancing, and complimentary Irish food. See the "Trip Report" sections of Irelandyes, for more details. Mine was called "NW Ireland"

You might also check on festivals during your visit there...a great way to hear multiple nights of music. We sat in on a singing class in a small village of Kilcar west of Donegal near the end of their festival. Fantastic experience....just the kind you might be looking for!

As for the web sight....I recall seeing it but can't remember where. If I run across it, will add another post. Good luck!

Dan

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Try checking here:  http://comhaltas.ie/

Bob


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Irish Trad in Gurteen and County Sligo


murphy: Thanks for sharing your musical experiences in County Sligo. On our first trip to Ireland we drove through County Sligo but only had time to stop and see Yeats grave. I am always curious to learn more about Ireland, and I will definitely look up Gurteen...I haven't heard of Gurteen. The Coleman Music Center in Gurteen sounds intriguing too. I will enjoy looking up your trip report and reading it.

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RE: Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?


Bob: Thanks for taking the time to post the link to comhaltas.ie . There is a lot of info there. I will spend more time looking at it.

I bet somewhere in my piles of papers in my office is the link to the web-site which lists the individual pubs, with info on them, and which nights they have Irish TRAD music. The web-site also had some sort of rating system where some pubs were especially recommended. I think it was a web-site for musicians... But my office is full of piles of papers from my various projects and trips... Well I haven't seen that web-site since 2006, so how do I know it even exists any more?

I will enjoy hearing where you all found the best sessions with amazing Irish Trad music.

Meanwhile, I will put on one of my Chieftains CD's and have a listen...and dream of Ireland! But right now its bedtime actually.  


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Melissa,

This is a very eclectic list that should keep you busy all summer! wink

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Crane Bar, Galway: http://www.thecranebar.com/ music, dance, ceili
 
Hughes, Dublin 19 chancery St. set-dancing & sessions
 
Leo's Tavern, Crolly Co. Donegal: http://www.leostavern.com/
 


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thanks for the great list of websites for music in Ireland!


WOW Michele, thanks for the jackpot of web-sites with musical info! biggrin I am delighted to have so much Irish homework. This may keep me out of trouble for a while.

I had fun clicking on my name to find the ocean of questions I asked before our first trip to Ireland (June or July 2006).

I'll be back here soon with new questions as I have endless curiosity about Ireland. In my opinion, planning is as much fun as the actual trip!

The other day, I found myself walking through my neighborhood, singing out loud...an Irish tune I didn't even remember knowing. Perhaps it was sung by Maureen O'Hara on an old record my parents played when I was a child. sing.gif

I'M SO HAPPY!

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RE: Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?


At some point between the 15th-25th September I will be in Clifden for Arts week, watch this space closer to the dates.

http://www.clifdenartsweek.ie/

This site might also help

http://www.thesession.org/sessions/index.php/search?country_id=75&areaname=&town=&day=Any&search=Search


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Tony,

Good information in the 2nd link. Have already jotted down some pubs and days of the week when they are scheduled to have a session.

Dan

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tony2phones: I'm glad you are still hanging out on the forums! I have a question about the Clifden Arts Week. I'm trying to arrange my itinerary so that we can be in (or near) Clifden during part of the Clifden Arts Week. I am curious about whether the Clifden Arts Week usually attracts an audience of mixed ages? My husband and I are in our 50's and we love good music. We felt most comfortable in Ireland at pubs with a mixed age group. (A couple of times we walked into a pub where nobody looked old enough to drive yet...they could have been our grandchildren...and all the young people turned and stared at us...it was quite awkward, so we left! imslow.gif But at other pubs, there was a comfortable mix of ages. (We love young people and would happily have stayed and had a listen with them, except that their silent stares, in unison, gave us the feeling we weren't welcome.) On the other hand, there were other pubs where people of all ages, including young people, came right over and talked with us...you might say, there was great craic for all ages! biggrin

And thanks a million, tony2phones, for the great web-site, listing all those pubs with nights of their sessions! I will be sure to keep an eye on that, and check again when we arrive in Ireland in September.   sing.gif

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I kind of liked Gus OConners in Doolin for both "TRAD" and "sean-nos"

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I will be 53 going on 35 next week and never feel too old. All the pubs in Clifden cater for a wide age range and apart from the open air Rock session which usually happens on the last Saturday after the parade I am fairly sure you wont be given the "Old" tag. Irish youth are still largely respective of there elders and mature early so even in a pub full of 20 somethings you shouldn't feel ancient (90% of the time).

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ancient Nanny not too old for Clifden pubs yet


tony2phones: Thanks for your reply! I feel more confident now about enjoying the music, pubs, and craic in Clifden, especially during the Arts Festival week in September. I love that you are 53 going on 35! My husband and I are only a few years older than you, but I often feel like I am 100 going on 11 or 29, depending on my mood. biggrin

Now I have to decide whether we'd prefer to stay in Clifden or elsewhere in Connemara or County Galway. We don't drink much, so drinking and driving isn't the issue...I just want to pick an accommodation which my husband can still find in the dark after a pub session! Roundstone is looking good to me as a base, but I'm not certain yet. In Ireland we wish to enjoy TRAD music, wild Irish scenery, and also, I always have my eye open for any areas that might interest my husband the biologist. We both love music, but he also enjoys exploring nature in unspoiled spots. He enjoys spotting native flora or fauna. 

noshot9: I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Trad and "sean-nos" in Doolin at Gus O'Conners...I haven't been to Doolin...yet! aww

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RE: Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?


Melissa,

My favorite B&B in Roundstone is St. Joseph's, which is very easy to find, as it is on the main road through. They have a private carpark and accept credit cards. Christina is very well versed on Irish traditional music and has her finger on the pulse of the local music scene. Seamus is a huge football fan. They serve evening meals and their breaksfats are scrumptious!

Slan Beo,

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CowboyCraic: Thanks so much for sharing about your favorite b&b in Roundstone ..St. Joseph's.  Did you read my mind? aww I have just spent hours researching Connemara and Donegal...and I really feel drawn to staying in Roundstone. Michele also has a lovely b&b in her guidebook...Ivy Rock House. Now I have 2 choices for Roundstone accommodations.

According to the aa site, it's about a 32-minute drive from Roundstone to Clifden. So if I stay in Roundstone, we could still check out the arts/music festival in Clifden in September.

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It's a nice scenic drive between Roundstone and Clifden and about 1/2 hour sounds right although I have never timed it. Check out the Old Bog Road which runs above Roundstone across the peninsular It is one of my favourite drives and I think it would appeal to your husband.

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tony2phones: Thanks for the tip about the Old Bog Road above Roundstone across the peninsula. I'm making a note about that for my biologist husband. I'm glad to know its a nice scenic drive between Roundstone and Clifden. Do you think we would get lot in the dark, or is that particular drive fairly straightforward? We don't drink much, just a beer or 2 in a pub, but Ireland can be very dark at night.







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Getting back to Roundstone is straightforward, just drop down Bridge Street at the bottom of town and the R341 follows round the peninsular by the coast which to me is a far better option than heading out on the N69 and dropping down the other end of the R341 behind Ballynahinch Castle (great place to stay if you have the budget for it.)

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Tulla Trad fest is also at the beginning of September 9th-12th in Tulla Co.Clare (details to be finalised later)

http://www.tullatradfestival.com/

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tony2phones: Ok sounds good, thanks for the info on driving between Roundstone and Clifden. smile We want to attend the Clifden Arts festival but are leaning towards booking accommodations in Roundstone. I want to book soon but its hard to decide where! I'm torn between staying in Roundstone, Clifden, or just outside of Galway near Salthill area.

Also the Tulla Trad Fest in County clare sounds very interesting. nod.gif It looks like its mainly for children and teens? Do adults attend as well, or is it mainly attended by the families of the children & teens involved? I'm so happy to hear that there are great programs in Ireland to keep the young folks interested in great music and TRAD. On our first visit to Ireland, County Clare was probably my favorite county, if I could only choose one favorite.

Do you have an opinion on where to stay in County Donegal for great TRAD and wild Irish scenery? I'm leaning towards Ardara (Ardna ratha) or Donegal town. I also considered Letterkenney which I keep getting confused with Letterfrack! One being in County Donegal and the other being in Connemara/County Galway of course...can't seem to keep them straight.

I'm going to post a new question to get opinions on the 5 best "bases" for our Ireland trip. I enjoy hearing people's viewpoints. I'm getting tangled up in my research. confuse

 

 

 



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Melissa,

If it were me I would send some inquiries to places in Clifden to see about availability. If they are booked up for the festival, then perhaps Roundstone could be your second alternative.

Michele

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Thanks for your suggestion, Michele. If I can read between the lines... Do you think that since we are very interested in TRAD music, and we will want to attend the Clifden Arts festival, then our best option is to stay in Clifden for convenience? And if they are full, then Roundstone would be a good alternative?

I don't think you have a recommended b&b in Clifden in your 2010 book. But you do have 2 "quick picks" for Clifden, so I could look into those. (And I will have to resort to looking at my other guidebooks, which of course are second-best to yours! aww

Our priorities for Connemara are as follows:

#1 hearing TRAD music and "sean-nos" unaccompanied singing, especially in Gaelic

#2 enjoying wild Irish scenery in Connemara

#3 staying at a friendly b&b with great breakfast and a quiet night's rest

My brain is in a tangle with too much research. One fact that is very elusive in my research is that...while Connemara is known for "sean-nos" unaccompanied singing...I cannot really pinpoint exactly where we can hear it! In fact 1 guidebook says that Clifden is known for great TRAD music (which we also want to hear) but it's not the place in Connemara for "sean-nos" unaccompanied singing. But all the guidebooks leave this issue very vague...somewhere in Connemara, in a ghostly unnamed secret pub, is an Irish singer singing hauntingly in the sean-nos unaccompaned style, in Gaelic...but I can't seem to find him/her! sing.gif  

However perhaps an event like an arts festival in Clifden will attract all sorts of musicians, including singing in the sean-nos unaccompanied style in Gaelic.

 

 

 

 



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Melissa,

 In regard to the "sean-nos" style of singing in Gaelic, it may not (in my limited experience) be  very common in pubs.

The first time we went to Ireland, the 2nd night we were there, we wanted to experience our first-ever Trad. We went to a pub in Dugarvin advertising on the window a 9 PM session. They had a 3 piece trad instrumental group playing. About 10 PM, a group of 15-20 guys happened to drop in...from Cork City, on a golf outing. Most of them were musicians, singers specifically, all hailing from the same pub in Cork. One by one, one after another, they got up and sang some of the most beautiful tear jerking balads you ever heard. The band usually joined in very softly in the background accomp. We were in awe! The older gentleman, sitting next to me was a local buisness man, and this was "his" pub. He too, was in awe. I asked him if the music was always this good at this pub on Friday nights. His answer was: "I have been coming here every Friday night for over 20 years, and I have never heard anything like this before!"

Needless to say, the music we found in all the towns we stayed in for the next 8 nights...including Kinsale, Kenmare, Doolin, Trim, and Swords....didn't live up to that 1st experience. Most was strictly instrumental, with a few sing-song types of vocal music along the way.

The one place we did experience some Gaelic in the "sean-nos" style was at the music festival I mentioned above, and that was during the vocal class we sat in on. The teacher was from NI, but one student was from the western part of Ireland, and she sang beautiful Gaelic Music. In my opinion, (and the locals from Ireland correct me if I am wrong), you may run across a session featuring 1 or 2 of vocals a night at most. I think you would need to go to a festival/vocal class to get a full session of that kind of music. Hope this helps! Dan



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Melissa,

Correct! Last time I stayed in Clifden it was in a place that I decided was not for my book, although it had great reviews on Trip Advisor. I must try again next time. Quay House would be a little quieter and is down by the water (or the mudflats if the tide is low!). Seamist House is right in town so if you want to stay there I would request a quiet room facing the back.

The reason it is so hard to find trad and sean-nos is just as Dan pointed out. It is hit or miss. Sometimes serendipity is on your side. At other times you can search forever and not find it. The listings you find will be "guidelines". Nothing is written in stone when it comes to sessions in Ireland. It is a fluid situation. I always suggest asking your hosts, at the tourist office and then walking through town looking at the notices in the pub windows. The closer you are to the date of the sessions the more accurate the info. And as Dan pointed out you are more likely to find what you want at a festival since it is a gathering of musicians from far and wide.

Michele







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murphy: Thanks so much for sharing your experience with hearing the "sean-nos" unaccompanied singing at the pub in Dugarvin. What an awesome experience you had...lucky you! You couldn't have planned it, because those 15 or 20 great singers were there on a golf outing! I almost feel like I'm in the room listening too, since you shared it with me.  aww Thanks also for reminding me that I want to look up your NW Ireland trip report, Dan.

It seems like I just need to put together the best itinerary I can...and then enjoy those spontaneous gifts of fate, whatever form they might take! I also think including music festivals is a good plan, when possible. sing.gif

 

 



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serendipity


Michele: Ok, I will plan some serendipity. Just kidding! aww It's a good idea to ask my hosts at our b&bs, ask at the tourist office, and check notices on pubs...in Ireland. I might learn about some TRAD music or "sean-nos" singing sessions. And I think murphy and tony2phones have good advice about checking out any music festivals.

Thanks for the info on your quick picks for Clifden.

I have been reading guidebooks and web-sites for a while. My brain is so fat with info it barely fits in my head. brainless.gif (This is added on top of the massive research I did on Ireland prior to our 2006 trip.)

I am ready to choose 5 "bases" for our September 2011 trip to Ireland. (Almost). I'm going to post a new question about that. I've been dreaming happily about this 2nd trip to Ireland for years! biggrin Thanks very much for your time, Michele.

 



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RE: Irish TRAD music & haunting "sean-nos": WHERE are the best sessions in September in Ireland?


I use the Arch in Clifden but its not a place to recommend for anything other than a bed and good breakfast and right in town after a mighty night. We have used Atlantic View which is out on the Westport Road and can be recommended if you'r not planning a bit to drink, Quay House as Michele has aid would be a good option closer to town.

Ennis singers club have sessions through the year but end in August although the individual members do sing in some of the pubs around Clare on occasion.

For Donegal I can recomend Drumcorry House wich is a working farm B&B about 2 or 3 miles North from Donegal town and you might even get to hear Patsy give you a private session or show you the dogs working, Martina's brother used to have a pub in town with regular sessions.

http://www.bandbireland.com/accommodation/2175/galway/atlantic-view-bed-and-breakfast.html

http://www.thequayhouse.com/

http://www.drumcorroyhouse.com/index.htm



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Melissa, mo chara,

I have heard the best Sean Nos not in a pub but on the back porch at Man of Aran Cottages on Inis Mor, on the pier on Inis Oirr and in a small grocer on Inish Boffin. In all instances they songs came spontaneously in a moment of sharing.

Some of the best trad seissuns I have been a part of have been in out of the way "neighborhood" pubs. I have witnessed some great impromptu Trad seissuns at O'Dowd's in Roundstone. It was much the same when I stumbled across the Traveler's Rest in Cashelard in Co Donegal of a mid afternoon.  A man at  the bar asked how 4 cowboys had come to be in Ireland and so far removed from a main town. We said we were performs of cowboy & celtic music. The next I knew, there were fiddles,bodhrans and people that seemed to materialize from thin air. A quick stop turned into a few hours of rollicking fun!



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When we went to Ireland in 2006, we heard 'sean nos' at Matt Molloy's pub in Westport. There was an older gentleman there who sang for about half an hour. Other than that, I was not a fan of that pub. Too many drunk, loud and obnoxious Americans.

We also heard 'sean nos' in Ardara, in County Donegal, in several places on different nights. We much prefered the area because it seemed we were more with locals than other tourists.

None of these were planned- just serendipity.

When we returned to Ireland in 2009, we didn't hear a one.

Sometimes in Ireland you just have to let it be. No need for overplanning. You will find a wonderful experience around every corner.

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musical websites posted by Michele


Michele: I hope no one minds me popping this post back up to the top of the forum. The links you have provided are so valuable...they have all sorts of info on Irish Trad, music festivals, set dancing, etc. I have referred to them over and over again! I hope they will also help anyone else who is planning a "musical" tour of Ireland. sing.gif

I am posting a new question on my updated itinerary, as I keep "massaging" it.



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