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The traditional Irish music Sessions. What the visitor can expect to see and hear.

April 27, 2015

Mai Hernon McEvilley

 

Well, I suppose, the first thing I will tell you is, most sessions do not start in the pubs in Ireland until about 10pm. Musician's take their time coming to the pub and also leaving it. There's no rush or hurry, and that is the way it should be, I think. 

I am going to talk here about the regular sessions that I would have played in myself, throughout my life, starting with Sessions in my little village of Gurteen. 

When I was growing up in Gurteen, the place was full of musicians, all traditional of course, but some of these would spread their wings and form dance bands. But we'll stick to the traditional for the now. 

There was a number of pubs in that little village in the South of Sligo, where there would be regular sessions, namly..... Roisín Dubh, Teach Murray, Rathmadder Inn and The Sailor's Inn. 

Every Monday night, in Teach Murray, and Tuesday night in Roisín Dubh, the late Peter Horan, flute/fiddle player, along with Tommy McGowan and sometimes Noel Tansey, would head the session. They were the main regular musician's, and  they would be joined by visiting musicians. Of Course we had many more local musicians, such as Jim Donoghue, Jackie Coleman, The Taylor Hunts, Sonny McDonagh, Willie Coleman, Seamus Tansey, Rodger Sherlock, Joe O'Dowd Andy Davey and many more. I was lucky to have grown up listening to these people play, and play with many of them myself.  My sons were also lucky enough to have been able to learn a lot by joining in sessions with these people, and it must be said, the local musicians were always willing to make a place for the young ones coming in, and spend time teaching them little ways of playing a tune. People from all around the country, England and America would come to play and listen.  The fact that Michael Coleman, the great fiddle player came from about 3 miles from the village was a important reason for the interest in the music of the area. These people (musicians mentioned) had that unique Sligo style. We had and still have a festival every year to commemorate Michael Coleman, which would bring hundreds of people into the village. Tents and caravans would be all over the village from one end to the other. The excitement was always at fever pitch days coming up to the festival. The pubs would be packed to overflowing, and there would be maybe three sessions going at the same time in every pub. If the weather was good, then the sessions would be outside too. That festival is still on the go, but it has not been as well attended as in years gone by.

There are still sessions held in Gurteen, but all the old players who had a great Sligo style have passed on now.

 

Sligo town venues and sessions,

Foleys pub on a Saturday night starts about 10pm, and the musicians are Séamus Hernon and Rodney Lancester. These guys are always joined by local and visiting musicians. This session is about 20 years old, and is quite well known around the musical world. 

Foleys is a small narrow pub. The musicians sit at the window where their place is always kept for them. It fills up very quickly and the crowd always enjoy the music.  The lads would always be welcoming to any visiting musician who would like to join the session. They would also show singers great respect. 

There are other pubs with other musicians leading sessions. Shoot the Crows has a lovely session on a Tuesday night and Wednesday night also. Donagheys on a Sunday night. McGarrigles on Main st on a Sunday afternoon. Some other musicians you will find playing in sessions in Sligo town are: Philip Duffy, Brian McDonagh, Rick Epping, Colette Sherin, Michael Holmes, and many others. 

Sligo Singers Circle session.

This is a very special session. It is held in Durkin's pub in a little village called Ballinacarrow on the third Wed of every month. Singers come from all over, and it is just exactly what it says....singing session. You will hear traditional singers of all levels, with their great old songs, and of course there are also some poets and reciters there too. I spent many a night singing and listening to great singers and songs. Out of this session came the Frank Finn singing festival that is held once a year in Rosses Point Co Sligo. It is a festival like none other, and one not to be missed.

Again, you can find singing sessions in nearly if not all counties in Ireland and there are some great singing festivals been held around the country too. 

 

Looking forward to some music.

When I am away from home, I go on youtube and pick a clip that has some of the musicians that I know playing. I get my bodhrán and play along with it. But I always find myself getting homesick so I stop. But I always look forward to getting back home and joining my son Séamus and the lads at the great sessions in Sligo. Because of this exposure I had as a young girl growing up there, I now have four CD's on the market, a two piece group and four piece band here in America. Celtic Font is myself and Mick McEvilley, we sing Irish/American folk and traditional songs, and Beeswing is an All female Irish traditional band, we also sing four part harmony. I do a sean-nós dance also. 

 

So, there is a little taste of what you can expect when you go there. I would be here all day if I was to go into the details about every session, but if you want to experience this music and the craic, why don't you check out my tour business site at www.SecretIrelandToursLLC.com and book yourself a holiday with us. We will bring you to great places and great music sessions.

 

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