Enjoying the Music of Ireland

If you listen very closely you can hear the music of Ireland as it caresses the verdant hills and joins the crystalline rivers. At times it’s a slow, romantic bit plucked from a harp, at others it’s a lively jig from a silver whistle or a tempest following the pounding beat of a bodhrán. Whether it be the magic of the faeries or the forces of nature, music comes from deep within Ireland, leaving no wonder to the availability of live performances nearly anywhere people gather.

Where to Enjoy Music in Ireland

When I say the music of Ireland is all around you, it’s not just a turn of phrase. Nearly everywhere you are you’ll find a tune.

Dublin Pub | Enjoying the music of Ireland

A pub in Dublin

I’ll begin with the most obvious gathering place: the pub. The Public House is a place for everyone – young, old, families, singles. It’s where people come together to share a pint, tell a tale, or gather to enjoy the company. Depending on the pub you’ll find one of two types of music : ‘live music’ or a session.

If you see ‘Live Music’ on placards outside a pub or in an ad it simply means that the band is hired to provide entertainment.

Live music in a Dublin pub | Enjoying the Music of Ireland

Live music at a pub in Dublin

A session, on the other hand, is a more organic gathering of musicians. Some pubs may have a known night for sessions, while others are planned by word of mouth. Unlike ‘live music’, which will have a stage area, a session usually takes place around a table, with musicians joining in as they wish.

If you find yourself on a busy city street you’re likely to see a busker or two. Grafton Street in Dublin is filled with buskers of all sorts on weekends and busy evenings. Tip for tipping buskers: if you stop to listen or take a photo it’s polite to drop in a Euro. More if you are really enjoying them.

Bagpipe buskers in Killorglin | Enjoying the music of Ireland

Bagpipe buskers in Killorglin | Credit

Another place you’ll find buskers is at popular attractions. At the Cliffs of Moher you may find a harpist, accordion or tin whistle player.

Other popular tourist sites like Blarney Castle and Bunratty Castle will often have traditional musicians playing in the castles or cottages on the grounds. Bunratty, Knappogue, and Dunguaire Castles all offer a Medieval banquet, filled with traditional music, storytelling, and dance. These interactive evenings wonderfully bring Irish culture, history, and food together, transporting guests 500 years into the past – if only for a few hours.

A final place you’ll find music in Ireland is at a festival. And there are loads of festivals across Ireland! No matter the root of the celebration- Irish language, oysters, local fair- there will be music. You may find a lovely mix… scheduled live music, buskers, and even sessions in the pubs!

Author Bio. Jody Halsted has been traveling across Ireland for over a decade with her own children, discovering the most family friendly sites and activities on the tourist trail and off. Dedicated to Ireland family travel, her website Ireland Family Vacations, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For families looking for a perfectly tailored Ireland vacation, Jody offers Ireland vacation coaching, working with your family to help you choose the perfect lodging, destinations, and activities to fit your budget, interests, and expectations.

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14 Responses to Enjoying the Music of Ireland

  1. Max March 10, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    I would highly recommend the Musical Pub Crawl in Dublin for a fun intro to Irish music! http://www.discoverdublin.ie/musical-pub-crawl/

    • Jody March 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

      A terrific recommendation Max. I think kids can even go on that – as long as they aren’t terribly young!

  2. Julie March 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    Love the photo of the kids with the bagpipes!

    • Jody March 15, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      The variety of buskers is really great. Fun fact: Bono (of U2) busks on Grafton Street every Christmas Eve!
      Jody recently posted…5 Fabulous Irish AdventuresMy Profile

  3. Nichola - Globalmouse March 16, 2016 at 5:39 am #

    I love your photos! Great post, I can’t wait to take my kids to Ireland!
    Nichola – Globalmouse recently posted…Win a family ticket to see Mission ImPUDSEYble live on tourMy Profile

  4. Susan Schwartz March 16, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    Thanks for this! I am off to Ireland for Easter!

  5. Mama Munchkin March 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Love incorporating culture in our travels whether it be local music, food etc… It helps you appreciate the destination and the people much more. I am hoping my niece comes through on her promise to get married in Ireland– her and her fiance are looking at destinations and if she does we get to go. Fingers crossed!!~
    Mama Munchkin recently posted…The ULTIMATE Guide to Disney’s Aulani- Top 10 Tips & Photo TourMy Profile

  6. Samuel T. Cummins July 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Traditional Irish Music is known today throughout the world. It is an oral tradition and its prolific nature has captured the attention of listeners everywhere. You’ll find trad music pretty much everywhere in Ireland. It’s about having fun and joining in. traditional Irish music is all about having the craic!


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