The Shannon Region has a proud heritage of traditional music. Throughout the Region in towns and villages visitors will discover this rich heritage in pubs, on streets, and in custom-built music performance centres. Clare has established itself as a centre for its own individual brand of music, set-dancing, and sean-nós (meaning ‘old-style’) singing.
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Doolin in North Clare has become a centre for traditional and folk musicians from around the world. It first became famous in the 1960s in the lifetime of two renowned local musicians, Micho and Packie Russell, attracting large numbers of visitors with no marketing except word of mouth. Writer Cormac McConnell invented the phrase “was in Doolin” to describe German back-packers in particular. Collectively they have become know as the 'was in Doolins".
In the 1950's the Kilfenora and Tulla céilí bands brought fame to two small Clare villages and became national institutions. Clare musicians who helped pioneer the revival in Irish traditional music included Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Micho (on tin-whistle) and Packie Russell (a concertina player) the notable duo from Doolin, Bill Loughnane of Feakle, the fiddle player Junior Crehan and Mrs Crotty of Kilrush.
The traditional Irish 'seisiún' or an impromptu session, by amateur musicians, is a feature of rural life throughout the Shannon region. Irish traditional entertainment is on offer throughout the season in a number of centres specially devoted to the genre.
Glór Irish Music Centre
Glór is a state-of the art concert venue dedicated to the performance of traditional Irish music and features the top Irish musicians in a friendly yet intimate theatre setting. Nightly programme suitable for groups and individuals. Restaurant and bar facilities available.
Cois na hAbhna
Tel. 0 6822347
Gives visitors a unique opportunity to learn set dancing and some Irish dancing steps every Wednesday night year round from 8.30pm. The class is followed by a traditional Irish Ceili which will give you an opportunity to try out your newly found dancing skills encouraged by many local County Clare set dancers who attend these sessions.
“Style” Stories of Irish Dance
Bunratty Folk Park
Tel. 0 5361-360788
A show held in the Corn Barn at Bunratty Folk Park, County Clare. The show interprets the story of Irish dance from early times through to the international success of Riverdance. Open April to October at 7.00pm.
Bunratty Castle Hotel
Tel. 0 61707034
An 'Irish Night' every night of the week during the main season, features local musicians and dancers.
Siamsa Tíre - The National Folk Theatre of Ireland
Tel. 0 66 7123055
A theatrical entertainment based on the wealth of music, dance, and folklore that has evolved in Ireland from the earliest times to the present. From May to October Siamsa Tíre offers a choice of four programmes recapturing on stage the spirit of life and times when the thatching of a cottage and the flailing of corn was part of everyday life. To the magic of the fiddle, the bodhrán (a light goatskin hand-drum) playing, and dressed in colourful native costume, the artists weave their intricate dance.
Teach Siamsa, Finuge
At Finuge in North Kerry an open-hearth atmosphere helps explore the folkways and customs of by-gone days through story-telling, poetry, music, dance and drama. Workshops in all of these areas are regularly provided for young and old.
Fleadh Cheoils, (meaning ‘ Music Festivals’), are held at various locations around Ireland, from district to county to regional and then to the All-Ireland fleadh. They have extensive programmes of singing, music and dance in formal competition and impromptu sessions in pubs and on the streets, making unique, almost electric atmospheric places of fun.
Fleadh Nua, a less formal offshoot, is held annually in Ennis, the county town and traditional music capital of Clare, which takes place May 23-27th ‘02. It features stage shows, competitions and cultural parades.
Throughout the region there is a festival of music and dance happening somewhere almost every weekend. They include: Willlie Clancy Summer School of Traditional Music in Miltown Malbay in July; Aonach Paddy O'Brien in Nenagh in August; Sionna Festival at the University of Limerick in October.
Irish World Music Centre, University of Limerick, under the aegis of renowned Irish musician Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, has weekend and weeklong workshops of Irish traditional music studies and innovative areas of research into the traditional scene. MA's in Irish traditional music and in Irish dance are on offer. There is Ionad na nAmhrán, a centre for Irish traditional sean-nós singing.
Traditional Irish Music Pub Sessions
Shannon Development, the regional development company for the Shannon Region has brought out a handy guide to let visitors know where they can find Irish traditional sessions at set times weekly, June to October, in over 120 pubs throughout the Region. A special leaflet listing these is freely available from all Tourist Offices, or from hotels and guesthouses. Admission is free to these sessions that aim to start at 9.30pm. In almost every pub through the region impromptu Seisiún, (meaning ‘Irish music sessions’), are likely to break out at any time.
Information courtesy Shannon Regional Tourism Development