In the evening, when you stroll down the cobblestone streets of Ireland, you can hear the strains of fiddles, pipes, and guitars pouring out of the local pubs playing ceol Éireannach (Irish music in Gaelic). Last weekend, I took a trip to Ireland and went on a Traditional, or “Trad,” Irish Music pub crawl. Our guides took us to three classic Irish pubs, and played reels, jigs, and ballads on the fiddle and guitar.
As they played, they discussed the culture of pub music. For instance, most people in the pub will “play the boot” when they like a song by stomping their heel to the beat. And if you sit close enough to the stage, the musicians will probably ask if you have a song to sing or play. Our guides extended this invitation to our group, and I immediately shot my hand in the air. Over the summer I had learned a song called “The Rattlin’ Bog,” and this was my chance to put it to good use! The original piece has 27 verses, but I only sang the select few the internet gave me. Now, I’m no Irish woman, but I gave it my best shot, and boy did everyone have a grand old time!
When traveling in Ireland, you won’t just hear Trad Music. There are also musicians on the street playing today’s best hits. And, if you ask nicely and toss ’em a few euros, they’ll let you sing a song!
Taking part in Ireland’s music traditions was definitely a highlight during my weekend trip. Maybe, when I get back to Holland, in January I can convince New Holland to let me sing “The Rattlin’ Bog,” one Wednesday!