Traditional Irish music is instantly recognisable. The bouncing banjo, the tooting of a tin whistle and the jig inducing screech of the fiddle, all blend together to create a uniquely Irish sound. The Irish are famed worldwide as being a musical nation, with traditional songs dating back many centuries. Whether you’re visiting the Emerald isle or you’re a lifelong resident, it’s worth knowing where the best places to hear live traditional music are.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
A traditional music festival like no other! This eight day, jam packed schedule includes hundreds of performances and competitions, from whistling to dancing. The venue changes each year, though in 2017 it will be hosted in Ennis and County Clare. The entire area comes alive with music, and while the performances are stunning, the impromptu sessions in pubs and on the streets draw the rowdiest crowds! Grab a pint and sing along, or have a go at a traditional dance!
De Barra Folk Club
Head for the town of Clonakilty to find this temple of folk music. Traditional instruments adorn the walls and intimate sessions can be enjoyed in the sitting room. Many fantastic musicians play there regularly, including some big names.
This small village near the coast in west Clare is the unlikely home of three terrific traditional music pubs. MacDiarmada’s is the most popular with the locals, though McGann’s and O’Connor’s are normally rammed to the rafters as well!
Away from the more touristy areas of Dublin, this little gem is a proper locals’ pub, with two areas for sessions. Traditional music and dancing can be enjoyed most nights of the week, and do bring your own instruments if you want to join in! The beer is also excellent and probably one of the cheapest pints of Guinness in Dublin.
Owned by the the flutist of one of Ireland’s most successful groups – The Chieftains – this pub found in Westport is a great place to enjoy traditional, impromptu sessions several nights a week. They also stock locally crafted beer from West Mayo Brewery.