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All Ireland Fleadh 2011 – Would you couch surf?

August 3, 2011

All Ireland Fleadh 2011 is nearly upon us. Crowds of people from all over the world will congregate in Cavan town between 13th and 24thof August. It’s an incredible number of people (apparently 250,000 visitors last year), for such a small town but what an atmosphere!

Crowds at the All Ireland Fleadh in Cavan town on Saturday 2010

It’s hard to have the accommodation for everyone although they did a pretty good job last year. So what about those of us that are still looking for somewhere? Well, perhaps you could try couch surfing. has been on the go since 2004 and it is the most popular free accommodation website in the world.

If you sign up for couch surfing you have the choice to offer your couch to fellow travellers in return for receiving the same. It has over a million users in 230 countries. The best thing about is that it’s free. Members can provide information on the sleeping accommodation they offer, pictures and a bit about themselves.

The couch surfing mission is “to create inspiring experiences, cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating.” I’m sure a lot of people might see it as crazy, ridiculous or maybe dangerous but if you do any research on the topic you can find so many wonderful stories about different experiences travellers have had through couch surfing.

Great session in De Rossa Pub Cavan, Ireland

For the All Ireland Fleadh or any music festival it’s perfect.  Musicians and music lovers travel all over Ireland and the world for festivals and events. What better way to get good accommodation for free!  Couch surfing has yet to become as popular in Ireland as it is in other countries with only limited numbers of couch surfers registered in rural areas in Ireland. However, I have a feeling it will continue to grow in popularity as the Fleadh and Irish music festivals continue to captivate people all over the world.

Has anyone ever tried couch surfing or what type of accommodation do you usually go for at festivals?

For accommodation for the All Ireland Fleadh see


Guidewires at The Harcourt Sessions, Dublin

February 29, 2012

Some pictures of Irish traditional band Guidewires who played at the Harcourt Sessions in The Harcourt Hotel in Dublin last night. The crowd were warmed up first by three great musicians from the DIT trad soc.


Guidewires are well worth going to see. Very lively performers and they really got the crowd going. In the band are Tola Custy on fiddle, Padraig Rynne on concertina, Karol Lynch on bouzouki, Paul McSherry on guitar and Sylvain Barou on flute and uileann pipes an all renowed musicians. Check out their website for a full list of tour dates. You won’t regret it!



The Irish in Uzbekistan and The Sharq Taronalari Folk Music Festival

December 19, 2011


Boann in Uzbekistan

We have a guest post from Lorcan Brady who attended The Sharq Taronalari Folk Music Festival this year. Read his story below:

On the 23rd of August the Irish traditional music group Boann travelled to Samarkand Uzbekistan, (via Riga and Teshkent) for the biennial Sharq Taronalari festival. The festival showcases music from across the globe and culminates in a contest of all the greatest national folk music from around the world.

The Irish contingent included an interesting array of musicians from across the country. Playing fiddle was Toner Quinn and Malachy Bourke, Brian Bourke was on Bodhrán, Sean O’Corcoran on Bouzuki and Lorcan Mac Brádaigh on the Uilleann Pipes. The trip was made possible due to the support from both the festival organisers in Samarkand and The Irish Arts Council.

All artists performing at the festival were treated like celebrities and given historical tours of the ancient city of Samarkand. Music was played in various venues over three consecutive nights with each country on alternating stages. It was a great opportunity to showcase the music of
Ireland to the people of Uzbekistan as well as all the other nationalities that attended the festival. The music of Ireland went down brilliantly in every setting and performance.

On the question of the Irish ‘session’ abroad, one particular night springs to mind. After the Sunday night concert the group settled into the hotel bar for a drink and to listen to music of countless countries playing in several corners of the hotel. French band Kitus played a few Irish tunes to coax the Irish group to sit in and join which Boann obligingly did, with great pleasure. As the two countries played the international language more people sat down and played expanding the session. Countries that were playing included Ireland, France, Ukraine, Senekal, Israel, Turkey, Wales, England, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan to name but a few. The most unbelievable fact of the situation was that many of these musicians from these countries had at least a few Irish tunes! It was a great night of fun and a very mind expanding 10 days!

A Night In Killeshandra

December 14, 2011
Maggies Bar in Killeshandra has a session running every thursday night for the past 25 years. During that time the place has changed ownership/management five times!
The musicians have had many a good night there over the years. And so have the many tourists who have called in. Just to prove I’m not telling a lie I’m including a story here which was written by a visitor from Chicago. In 1999 my cousins came to visit. Cousin Jeanne had her 2 lovely daughters with her and cousin Loretta was with her two sons who were old enough to drink Guinness! They all said that this night was the best of their holiday! Here is an account of the night as written by Liz then aged 14.
A Night in Killeshandra
by Liz Mahoney
October 4, 1999

Meeting new relatives was very interesting. I guess I never realized how different American culture is from Irish culture. Even though I hadn’t seen these relatives since nearly ten years ago, they acted as if I had just gone away on a long vacation and hugged me as if I had known them all my life. After the Irish welcoming, we all paraded into the 200 year old Georgian farmhouse where we were served coffee and soda with ice, “a special treat for the Yanks,” as Grainne said. After our drinks, we had a traditional Irish dinner consisting of lamb, two kinds of potatoes, broccoli and turnips. After dinner we had a very scrumptious trifle.

Around ten o’clock, someone stood up and recommended going to Dicky’s Pub for the Thursday Night Session. It was ten o’clock! Personally, I was sort of tired. But I thought, what the heck, and put a smile on my face and followed everyone out the door.

Getting to the pub was quite an experience. We had a stick shift car, and through the rain, in the dark, we stick-shifted our way down the winding roads to the little town of Killeshandra to Dicky’s Pub. All seventeen people and six fiddles filed one by one into Dicky’s. I must admit we changed the mood of the pub. Not because there were children there, but because the Yanks and more importantly the musicians had arrived! The music started around 10:30 and started rather slow. Everyone got themselves a drink and slowly began organizing themselves to play the fiddles.

By 11:15, other musicians had arrived and things started heating up. My cousins, Tony and Greg, were each on their second pint of Guinness and my nine year old cousin Lorcan was running around swiping their hats. Before I knew it, 12:30 had rolled around and the pub was in full swing, with fourteen musicians playing fiddles, drums, accordions, flutes, and guitars. By then, Tony and Greg were on their fourth pint each and I made little smiley faces in the foam on the tops of their pints of Guinness. Lorcan was my partner in crime while we tormented Tony and Greg and their beloved hats and pints. Finally, Greg got a little fed up with my fingers in his Guinness and said, “If you’re touching it, you’re drinking it!” So … I did. And I must say, Guinness is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

After five pints of Guinness, Tony and Greg started to act a little too happy. Tony said, “Lizarita, I think it’s about time for you to learn the rules of drinking.” And continued to babble on and on. I simply smiled and nodded my head as if I cared. This sort of made me laugh. And I looked at everyone around me. They all were smiling, singing, and having a good time. I felt as if I had known them for years even though we had just met no more than a few hours ago. Sitting in that hot, stuffy pub, it was at that moment I felt connected and knew what it meant to be Irish.

Ennis Trad Fest

November 15, 2011

Last Monday saw the close of Ennis Trad Fest for another year. My first trip to this festival and it didn’t disappoint. My sister had been raving about how great Ennis Trad Fest was all year so I was really looking forward to going. This is definitely a festival that lovers of trad should try to get to at some stage as apart from the great line up that’s organised it attracts some of greatest traditional musicians around.

Co. Clare is renowned for its excellent musicians and it has long been considered the heartland of traditional Irish music. Thousands flocked to Ennis this weekend for the much anticipated festival that is now in its 18th year. Over the course of the weekend there was ceili’s, numerous CD launches, competitions, classes and of course sessions galore. Some of the musicians that were playing were Peter Browne, Michelle O’Brien, Arty McGlynn and the group Dervish.

We headed to a few different pubs around the town including Fafa’s, Knoxes and then to the Auburn Lodge for the now nearly famous “trad disco”. There was a great atmosphere in Fafa’s with a few musicians I know playing including some of the lads from new traditional music group Portherhead and well known piper Blackie O Connell. We strolled through the town to get a few more sessions and popped into Knox’s. There was a nice session going on down the back with a handful of musicians. It was great listening to music in a quieter spot before heading to the madness of the trad disco!

If you haven’t been to a trad disco yet – get yourself to one! Mighty craic! It is exactly as it sounds, a disco playing trad music. I’m not sure what sort of dance moves were being thrown about the dance floor but suffice to say there might have been a few sore muscles (and perhaps heads) the next day!

Unfortunately I had to head back to Dublin early the next day so it was a short trip but well worth the visit.

For a list of sessions and festivals check out

Trip to Inishbofin

October 7, 2011

Last weekend I went on a trip to Inishbofin, a beautiful little island seven miles off the Galway coast. The Inishbofin Set Dancing and Trad Weekend was on so it was a great chance to see the beautiful scenery and catch some great music.

The scenery on the way from Galway to Cleggan is amazing. We had to stop so many times on the way just to take pictures! We were very lucky to get a lovely dry day to drive down and get the boat over. It was such an enjoyable boat trip to the island.

We stayed in the prettiest B+B called the A Frame House. It was in most peaceful and private spot with the greatest views of the harbour. It was such a quaint and interesting building it really added to our trip.

Saturday night we headed to the Doonmore Hotel. I have to say walking along the dark quiet roads of Inishbofin is a serious change from walking around the streets of Dublin. When we went into The Doonmore first the session was just starting with a couple of pipers, an accordian and a fiddle player but as the night went on the crowds gathered. By the end of the night the place was hopping! There was a great sing a long and all in all it was a wonderful night! I will be going back next year for sure and next time it will be a much longer stay!

Driving through Connemara

If you want to find traditional Irish music sessions around Ireland check out

Glasgow Sessions

September 23, 2011

Having only moved to the city of Glasgow a mere week and a half ago, I have already been given a fantastic taste of what the city has in store in the coming years.

With a plethora of fiddle players living here, each session is sure to be filled with the world famous familiar Scottish fiddle playing, although there is the odd piper, flute or accordion player!

Situated in the lovely west end of Glasgow is a small pub called the Ben Nevis, which hosts three weekly sessions; Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. No two session nights are the same, with a huge variety of tunes being played, and music styles to be heard.

Among some of the regular musicians to be heard are flute player Kevin O Neill and fiddler Adam Sutherland of the band “Treacherous Orchestra”.

Along with the great music, is an incredibly friendly atmosphere, great staff, and a fine selection of Scottish ales and whiskey’s!



Session in Austin, Texas

August 31, 2011
Session in BD Rileys Austin Texas

Session in BD Rileys, Austin, Texas

While travelling for a recent work conference in Austin Texas, I was invited to join a traditional music session in BD Riley’s by one of my co-workers. There is an Irish music session there every week and I was lucky enough to be in town on a night it was in full swing.

The session started at 8.30 and there was a great mix of musicians present, including fiddles, bodhrans, a couple of flutes, a mandolin and a banjo.

A good, lively session with great tunes and welcoming musicians. I can’t wait for next year!

Session in BD Rileys, Austin, Texas


To find Irish music sessions in Ireland go to