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"Ireland Expert" Michele ErdvigClick links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland ItineraryVisit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.
Two rules for Ireland, Take your time & bring a sense of humour
tony2phones: Ok sounds good, thanks for the info on driving between Roundstone and Clifden. 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. 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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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. 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.
Michele: Ok, I will plan some serendipity. Just kidding! 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. (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! Thanks very much for your time, Michele.
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.
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!
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.
I am posting a new question on my updated itinerary, as I keep "massaging" it.