A Song On Their Lips

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.

About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Tippy Reply

    I smiled at the thought of your determination to find the trad at all hours of the night. I never thought you were a creature of the night! Ha!

  2. Susan Reply

    Some of my favorite memories of my four trips to Ireland are those about listening to the traditional Irish music and feeling the love of the people that they have for their country and their music- can’t wait to go again in 2012.

  3. Wendy Richardson Reply

    That is what I envision when I think of an old Irish pub.

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