Last night I went in search of some real Irish Traditional music in Dublin. I am staying in the trendy Temple Bar area of Dublin. Located in the heart of all the nightlife, I thought it might be easy to find some “trad” music. Temple Bar’s main drag, Fleet Street, is lined with plenty of “tourist” pubs, clubs, and eateries. But, at 10:00 p.m., not a single “trad session” could be found. There was plenty of music… country, folk, rock and even techno, but no trad.
By 11:00 p.m. I gave up and left the Temple Bar area. I headed up river about ten minutes to an old Irish place known to be the oldest pub in Dublin. The Brazen Head is always a good choice for a pint and trad. When I arrived, the band was on break. I asked the door bouncer if there “was music on.” He said, “there was, but it was not trad, more of a country-rock band, it is. If you’re lookin’ for trad, go in O’Shea’s there across the street, walk through the empty restaurant and go into the back room.” So, off I went.
When I walked in the place was dead silent, not a soul around save for the bartender and bouncer. Having got a head’s up from the guy across the street, I asked the bartender “is there music on.” He said, “yeah there’s a band coming in at half-twelve (12:30 a.m.)” I told him I was looking for the trad session and he said, “oh, then go through that door back there to the bar.”
The place was packed with an all-Irish crowd and the two guys playing in the back were croonin’ on the tune “Dirty Old Town.” I’d found my trad session! No place to sit, but as I stood there in that pub, listening to the music and watching the crowd I was touched. On one particular song, a ballad about a guy reminiscing about being in love at the age of sixteen, I noticed many men and women alike mouthing the words with tears rolling down their cheeks. Finally, I’d found the essence of the Irish. Everybody with a pint in their hand, a song in their heart and the words on their lips.