Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I went to a great session in Galway during the summer in an Irish speaking Pub and at some stage in the evening I realised that myself and friend were the only Irish people in the session, the rest were from France Spain Holland Israel etc

After finding that a bit weird, I then realized that the Irish Trad Session is a pretty unique situation globally, I was just wondering…. do keen players of Irish trad music from other country’s begin to Identify to Ireland to the point that they start considering themselves Irish?….

(Forget about Americans for the moment 🙂 )

Just wondering

K

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Absolutely not!
In the same way that I don’t think of myself Indian when I cook up a makhani dhal.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Naw.

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No, where I am from there are Irish people, second and third generation Irish and people with no Irish connection who all play the music. I also meet plenty of Irish people with no interest in the music whatsoever.

Could you maybe expand a little on your ‘finding that a bit weird’ I am quite interested in that. I sometimes wonder how non Irish players are perceived by those who are from Ireland.

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When I said no, I meant personally, I can’t speak generally about this, but it is a interesting subject. That scene in Father Ted comes to mind..

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Yeah, the bit when they go in the pub and all the musicians stop playing. Funny as ….

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One of the funniest Teds ever, IMO. If you click on the link (and not on the play button), the video starts with the scene in question.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

"do keen players of Irish trad music from other country’s begin to Identify to Ireland to the point that they start considering themselves Irish?…."
I doubt it….

however there is perhaps one complicated exception very close to home.

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No, not at all.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I am German/Irish/Scottish/Czech, but I am American. To answer your question though let’s put it this way. I make bomb Mexican food and I made it a obsession to seek out the best Mexican food in all of Los Angeles but I am not Mexican. Here it is a giant cultural melting pot. We go to Irish pubs then afterwards go eat tacos and some of us will smoke hookah in the same night. So for some a cultural identity is EVERY culture.

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Can’t watch that video in the UK, as it was previously shown on Channel 4. Ah, the joys of copyright !
As to cultural identities; my great-grandfather was Scots, my great-grandmother Irish, and their child my grandmother was born in Barnados, making me simultaneously one quarter Celtic AND West Indian ! My family name is a Huegenot one, from refugees who arrived in England in the time of Charles II, or The Three Musketeers if you’re not up on English history. Various bits of Channel Islander, French, and English finish the mix. Does my quarter Celtic/Barbadian make me a good player of jigs, reels, hornpipes, and polkas ? Darned if I know…….
….oh, and my wife, who plays as well as me, is descended from emigrees from The Pale of Settlement who went to New York approx 100 years ago. Its the Klezmer in her……

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I have a craving for colcannon and soda bread sometimes… so… maybe?

I don’t think I can claim to be Irish just because I play the traditional folk music of Ireland. I think most people who play the music enjoy it for what it is. Some people who play here in North America can claim some Irish/European heritage, but that doesn’t really count as being Irish. For myself, being Thai/Chinese/Canadian, I can hardly claim any ancestry to the music, so I view Irish Trad as a hobby/passion among my many other passions in life.

Also, if you want to check out the trad outside of Europe/North America, would highly recommend going to Japan. Had the pleasure recently to play at 4 sessions between Kyoto/Osaka/Tokyo with some talented musicians, none of who were Irish (mostly Japanese and a couple of British and Canadians.)

https://thesession.org/discussions/35244

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Why wouldn’t the OP find it a bit weird? He or she is in their own country, playing their own trad music in a trad music setting and most of their fellow musicians are ‘furriners’ 🙂 Though this probably says as much about the bit of a melting pot that is Galway city as about the state of trad music in modern Ireland.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing agin other nationalities playing Irish trad, quite the opposite. But it’d be just as strange as walking into say a boules match in France and finding a crowd of Chinese and Japs playing.

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I wonder if that common phrase "more Irish than the Irish themselves" is suitable here? I heard it was said of Vikings, of Normans.. So if you take someone who’s much too absorbed in Irish culture, music, ways of life, that will give you a "new Irish", won’t it? I would argue that this is two-fold question. There’s self-perception and perception by others. You may not think of yourself as Irish, but all your friends might call you Irish just because all they hear from you is references to Ireland in one way or another.

Case in point - yours truly. I’m Russian. i love Ireland, i’ve loved it way before i ever picked up a fiddle, lots of my friends call me Irish. I do like learning more and more about the country, though I don’t ever think of myself as actually becoming Irish. Granted there are many infamous similarities between these two nations, though I don’t drink anymore, so i’m one similarity short… ;)

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I didn’t get round to posting this in the ‘unpopular opinions’ thread but also relevant here; the more time I’ve spent in Ireland the less I’ve liked it. The music is what I care for. Clearly one has a different, and surely less rich, relationship to traditions from a culture that is not one’s own, but it doesn’t mean one can’t play and enjoy playing the music. I don’t feel, or want to be, ‘Irish’ through loving the music.

As for that session of foreigners in Ireland experience, I’ve had that more than once. Quite wierd to be playing tunes in a pub in Ireland with tourists snapping photos of this ‘authentic’ Irish session and thinking "Do they know the fiddler’s English, banjo player’s German, other fiddler’s Swiss, flute player’s French….."

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No, I am 100 percent American. I don’t particularly regard myself as Irish-American or Dutch-American (though the last name is pretty much the result of an adoption), except in kind of a tongue-in-cheek way.

I figure my family left Ireland for a reason, and came to America (1964, in my mother’s case, by way of England) and I am very thankful they did.

The only things I inherited from my Irish forebears was a tendency to sunburn, alcoholic family members, and unhealthy recipes. Oh, and for my sins, I did do some time in Catholic school.

I also did hard time in an Episcopal school, though, so it balances out.

My enthusiasm for the music of Ireland had nothing to do with my upbringing, though. It was something I came to as an adult.

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The OP said to forget about the Americans for the moment. But that moment was 5 hours ago, so I have to say (because it’s pertinent and I always wonder about it), I have never understood this American thing where they seem preoccupied in labeling themselves as (say) Irish American, African American, Italian American, etc. I live in Australia but am English by virtue of the fact that I was born there and lived there till I was 14. From research my mother did I have Welsh and Scottish ancestry and as far as I know, no Irish. But basically I never think of myself as anything but an Englishman living in Australia. My two kids were born in Australia and they they don’t think of themselves as English Australians, nor Irish Australians (given that their mother is Irish); just Australians. And everybody else would simply see them as Australian. We don’t use that American way of duel classification over here and I don’t understand it. An Australian is seen as anybody who has permanent residency here, yet that wouldn’t exclude their original national identity . How they classify them self is up to them. We are multicultural and we enjoy it. My point is (apart from all that) is that I can’t believe that any non-Irish born person would even want to consider that they were Irish just because they participate in an ever evolving Irish culture.

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Interesting thread. I watched a documentary recently on TV about "Danny Boy" a well known American song. Americans love it. Because it’s Irish. Lots of famous singers spoke about it. I personally don’t know anyone who would sing it. I used to play in a wee pub in Dundrum, County Down, in my acoustic folk singer phase. The local caravan site attracted campers from all over the British Isles and also from farther afield. Sometimes I would be asked to sing Danny Boy and maybe The Mountains of Mourne. I would apologise and say I didn’t know them. When asked why not, I would explain that they’re not Irish folk songs. I heard a story about an Irish folk singer who got to play in America and got booed off the stage when he was unable to perform Danny Boy. When he got back to the safety of the ould sod, he wrote a song entitled "You’re not Irish, you don’t know Danny Boy!"
I worked for several years in Carlingford, County Louth. One night I went for a pint before going home, in a bar where I had heard a session was going on. The bar was packed out, full of tourists, a table in the corner was home to the musicians. I managed to squeeze in to the crush at the bar and order my pint. The barman was doing the full tourist thing, doing the 7 minute pint pull. I told him to just bang it up cos I was chokin’, when I heard the first few notes of Danny Boy ring out. I thought some body was having a laugh, and said as much to the bar man. "No" sez he, "they’re playing." I couldn’t believe my ears! Danny Boy getting played in an Irish pub? IN IRELAND ??!!?? Then so help me, every one in the bar started to sing. All sorts of nationalities, French, Dutch, German, Belgian, Japanese and even Israelis. I knew the last ones were Israeli as the waitresses in the restaurant where I was working as a chef couldn’t fathom out where they were from, so I said to just ask them! It was the worst racket I have ever heard - a pub full of tuneless foreigners shrieking and howling out what they thought was an Irish song, and worst of all, encouraged by a cadre of tune thumpers who should have known better. Much better. I almost drowned as I sank my pint of Guinness in one swallow, and I told the bar man I hoped I’d never hear such a hound’s gowl again, then dashed out into the night and the safety of my homeward journey, away from those who thought they were being Irish.

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Gobby, I think its that when people come here to the states, they hang onto a bit of the old country. I know my grandparents did. So there’s still fragments of the old culture in our homes growing up. Its a source of pride. Mexicans are proud of being Mexican, Blacks are proud of being Black, Italians are ….well, you get the idea.

That’s a really interesting observation about the difference in our two countries, though

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

the more pertinent question could be: If you are from (Northern)Ireland, do you feel (more) Irish if you play Irish Music, Play GAA or whatever

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America has lots of tiny subcultures, really. They may be determined by state, region, or heritage. For example, though my great-grandmother waved goodbye to her mother at the gate of their home in Sligo when she was only 15 and then traveled to America, never to see her family again — I don’t consider myself Irish. (The rest of my family was in large part executed by the Russians on the far eastern border of Poland long ago, so I don’t know much about them.) I DO see myself as a Rhode Islander, though it would be hard to describe what a Rhode Islander is — only that it is a more considerate, salt-of-the-earth and less aggressive creature than those living north of the border in Taxachusetts. Better drivers, too. There’s still a great deal of feeling in the states regarding whether one is a Southerner or Northerner, which I have experienced anecdotally in my travels. (God forbid you speak with a Northern accent in a certain roadside bar in Georgia. Just saying.) Religion is another boundary point. And the country has never been this racially divided in my lifetime. I think there is some ill-repressed fear around the idea of subsuming these smaller identities under "American," possibly because some identities carry more privilege than others in certain places. This fear is only put aside during times of intense national crisis, like 9/11. However, one is also expected to take "pride" in one’s Americanness. There’s some tension there whether we want to admit it or not.

And there I’ve gone and made this whole tag about Americans. But I’ll tell you my Irish mother can’t stand Irish music. She keeps telling me to get a guitar and play songs people can sing around a campfire, and I get the feeling that the rest of the (Irish American) side of the family find Irish music to be hokey and old-fashioned. My cousin in Sligo, though, was excited about the "jigs and reels." (He pronounced that so fast I could barely understand what he was saying.) And in the Boston area where I live now, most of the people who do play Irish music or take Irish dance or whatnot are Irish or Irish-American, which is interesting. But I suppose Boston’s Irish community and culture is a whole other enormous vat of treacle that I shouldn’t even bring up in this thread.

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Wonderful observations Gobby and Nate. I don’t get it either. The last non-native born ancestor I have happened to be an Irishman and he served in the American Civil War (the losing side). If ya go back to the 1600’s you’ll find that I’m French. So I guess that makes me a NATIVE American. I certainly think everybody might want to be pridefully aware and appreciative of their cultural heritage but, whether you’re a natural born or naturalized citizen the the U. S. of A. you’re an American…and that sentiment comes from a card carrying’, unapologetic, Liberal!

Irish traditional music is just music, a genre that appeals to some and not to others. It’s a part of one nation’s cultural history and appreciated by many. Like all genres, I hope it would be played respectfully by those who choose to play it. I hope that no one is so one dimensional that they equate 32 bars with their national identity. I found it at a whisky tasting (slainte) where I found I liked the tunes as much as the whisky, and I really like whisky!

So no, I don’t think of myself as Irish for playing Irish tunes or French Canadian, or Cajun because I play a bit of that too. I won’t be the least bit put off if you don’t like any of the musical genres that Americans get blamed for.

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@Gobby O Gobbo.. We identify strongly by our heritage here. This is because of several factors. Firstly some would say it is offensive to just call oursrlves "American" as the Native Americans are the true Americans and our history with them wasn’t so nice. Also we take pride in what our ancestors did to get here. The Irish Americans went through hell on earth here and worked hard so many of us take pride to be descendents of a strong people such as the Irish. As the Mexican Americans take pride to descend from the Mexicans.

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And since there are so many different ethicities here which carry great physical differences. If a man is has the characteristics of an asian he will be called such. If you are blonde and blue eyed, German/Nordic, Red hair, you are Irish. We hatdly ever just identify as JUST American. Sorry about this it is irrelevant to the post but I already typed it so it’s too late.

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Can I be the first? I’m a Just-American.

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Wise troll, I’m sure that Australians also take pride in their descendants, but still, we don’t use your dualities. Of course if somebody looks Asian they may be described as Asian in appearance but at the same time they are merely Australian. As for our original inhabitants, well many of them object to being called Australian because Australia didn’t exist before the English invaded their lands and wiped out half the indigenous population. Some of our Indigenous people would refer to themselves as Australian (depending on how well they’ve survived integration) but many would still insist on being called by the names of their own individual nation. Anyhow, I’ve never believed in classification. It’s impossible to give a universally accepted definition of what is (say) an Australian.

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Ross… I beat you to it, above. 😉

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Well at the same time I and my ancestors simply aren’t indigenous here. It can be looked at in multiple ways. There are people here who just go by "American". I am an American but I am also many other things. Every nation thinks a little different I guess. Noone is right or wrong.

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Yep!

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Nice try, asking that this NOT be about Americans. 😏

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Yeah, good try, but well, the OP DID say "for the moment" ( 9 hours ago). But as Wise Troll says, it’s about everybody really. It’s about the multitude of ways that we can define ourselves and how others may define us in terms of cultural identity. I think that ties in with the original question.

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Yes you did Jason and good for you! Guess I’ll have to be satisfied with being Just Another-American.

(Sorry, I don’t know how to get those smiley faces.)

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So to address the actual question :- "do keen players of Irish trad music from other country’s begin to Identify to Ireland to the point that they start considering themselves Irish?…". I don’t believe that only a completely deluded mind would do that. Enjoying and participating in another culture is a great thing and our modern world gives us access to this, but as has been pointed out above, people cling strongly to their self identity.

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"(Sorry, I don’t know how to get those smiley faces.)". Me neither!

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"I don’t believe that only a completely deluded mind would do that."…… take out the word ‘don’t’ for that sentence to make any sense..

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So they’re still singing a thousand songs about the diaspora in Ireland but I’m some kind of oddball for identifying with my heritage?

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@Gobby O’Gobbo: pride in our origins comes out in various ways. Walking down the import wine aisle I found an Australian wine labelled "Nineteen Crimes". Part of my family came to the USA from Canada shortly after the little party we call ‘The War of 1812’ (a small sideshow to the Napoleonic Wars). We joke that we certainly are Americans since our ancestor worked a week and a half chopping wood to pay the head tax to enter the country.
I was gobsmacked the first time I heard live Irish Trad and been bitten ever since. Some parts of the family, that identify with the French-Canadian roots scratch their heads at my passion, but there you have it.

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America is just new, and so is Australia. Give it a thousand years and all hyphenation will be gone. Just as it is for Irish, who used to be Viking-Irish or Celt-Irish or Norman-Irish back let’s say 1200 years…

on the other hand, e pluribus unum slogan used to be much stronger in my opinion just mere 20-30 years ago.. who knows. I’m just happy to be whoever i am and wherever it is that i came from and at the same time enjoy something else from wherever-else it is. Not all people in the world today can say the same..

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I view it as the same as non asian people doing karate.

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You are what you are, and you can’t really change that, nor should you want to. Music doesn’t require affiliation with any nationality in order to appreciate it or become a skilled player of it. If you think you are a different nationality because you play their music or like some aspect of their culture, then you most likely have some sort of identity disorder.

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peter wsll …I found it ‘a bit weird’ in that the whole session was made up of people from other countyrs… and we were the minority 🙂 … not that I cared.. they were great players and it was a great session… just found it a bit unusal.

”the more pertinent question could be: If you are from (Northern)Ireland, do you feel (more) Irish if you play Irish Music, Play GAA or whatever”? Yea I do has to be said. Particularly when I’m abroad.

Jason_Van_Steenwyk… lol!


A ‘Norn Iron’ thread could be started but we’d probably end up fighting about it 🙂

Peace

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Why would you think of yourself as Irish because you play the music? It is just music, and you are what you are.

That said, people often ask me if I am a hyphenated Yank of Irish descent when they see me in a session. I always say no and hope they don’t ask my surname, which is Irish-sounding because my father’s half of the family came over from Ireland in the 1600s (my mother’s family, the more recent emigrants, came over at the end of the 19th century, some of the thousands of Eastern European Jews who settled in New York City, and I identify more strongly with NYC than Ireland). Long enough ago to not count, I think. I see myself as a Coloradan. As someone said above, there are lots of identities in the States. I guess being from Colorado means that you are laid-back, less flakey and ditzy than people from California, less aggressive and neurotic than people from the East Coast, eat less fried food than people from the South, and if you are from Boulder, a lot more left wing than a lot of places. And skiing.

The follow up question is sometimes, "So why do you play Irish music?" I usually say, "Uh, ‘cause I like it."

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I was actually thinking more in the line of people who come to Ireland cause they love the music so much and end up living here, not people who live in other country’s and play in their local sessions.

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I lived in Scotland since 2007 but I am most assuredly still not Scottish.

If you move to another country as an adult, I think you retain most of the cultural identity and mannerisms you got from wherever you are originally from.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

That still doesn’t make them Irish.

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"I lived in Scotland since 2007 but I am most assuredly still not Scottish"… yeah, and that’s even though you love a good single malt!
But same with me in that I’ve lived in Australia for going on 50 years and regard it as home. But I’m still English.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

For me, there is a bit of wistful envy and a desire to be more closely linked with the music I love. Although my only family connection is a triple-great grandfather who emigrated in the early 1800’s, and I am most assuredly American, I feel a deep connection with Irish trad. I think it’s a matter of finding music that strikes a chord regardless of one’s ethnic heritage. But perhaps there’s a little bit of me that feels like I’ve found my ancestral music.

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Sometimes it does make you wonder why the music grabs you like it does for me. But I would not consider myself Irish just because I play the music so much.

If anything genetically I am more English/Scottish than Irish yet their music, whilst being great fun to play, does not grab me as much as ITM. Strange.

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I have a somewhat different take on it, Gobby.

My parents were both Irish (Mum, an O’Carolan from Nobber in Co. Meath, birthplace of another rather more well-known Carolan. Dad from Co Louth. Mum was a dancer, Dad a box-player and singer.) Following a not uncommon path, they independently made their way to England looking for work, met and married after the war. I was born in Croyden but we came out to Australia when I was two. So, technically, I can be English, Irish or Australian. Although, as you point out, we don’t tend to think in hyphenated terms here in Australia, I regard myself as Irish-Australian, and not English. When I quiz myself on that, I respond that my upbringing was that combination - growing up in an Irish home located in Australia. The only music I knew until my late teens was Irish. I have no memory of England.

As it turns out, I’ve come to really like English traditional songs. But I’d regard myself as an Irish-Australian when singing them, not an Englishman.

As Milligan used to point out "It’s all in the mind, you know". A dangerously leaky vessel in my view….

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"I went to a great session in Galway during the summer in an Irish speaking Pub and at some stage in the evening I realised that myself and friend were the only Irish people in the session, the rest were from France Spain Holland Israel etc… do keen players of Irish trad music from other countries begin to identify to Ireland to the point that they start considering themselves Irish? (Forget about Americans for the moment.)"

Setting aside the self-contradiction (isn’t the USA an "other country"?) it’s an interesting question. Now, were these non-Irish trad players tourists, or people who have relocated to Ireland? I’m guessing that moving about within the EU is fairly easy, making the Israeli you mention the only ‘outsider’ from the EU perspective (and that person might have dual citizenship).

I don’t know what the "ethnic" makeup of Ireland is (I suppose it’s easy enough to look up) but I’m guessing that Ireland is steadily becoming more multicultural. Here in Southern California it’s our reality, in the only State where less than half the people speak English at home, where we have a major city (80,000 people or so) that’s around 90% Spanish-speaking at near it a city of similar size that’s around 90% Vietnamese-speaking, a cities where you can drive for blocks an not see an English-language sign save for the street names.

So here it’s an accepted thing that one’s DNA does not determine one’s pursuits or interests. I played in a Pipe Band which had people of African, Native American, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Swedish, German, Irish, and English ancestry all dedicated to Highland piping and drumming, people very involved in the Scottish-American community. In our band a female piper of Thai and Mexican ancestry married a drummer of African ancestry. What are their beautiful children? Americans brought up in the Scottish community, just as their parents were, going to Highland Games and Burns suppers and the like their whole lives.

As the world moves in this direction Ireland cannot be far behind.

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As a Scot I have no need to identify with inferior cultures.

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Choons: never mind the inferior ones, what about the superior ones, like Ireland? 🙂

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Ireland and Culture?

Impossible Madoc!

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Choons, I am willing to agree to cultural equality with Scotland.

Good tunes, good whiskey, lovely West Coast. Applies to both equally.

Many of my favourite tunes are Scottish and I look forward to acquiring more.

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well, if that’s not an olive branch, then I don’t know what is

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"yeah, and that’s even though you love a good single malt! "

Mmmmm……whisky……

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We are all citizens of the globe and out of Africa. Wanting to be or thinking of yourself as a particular ‘nationality’ is retrograde. Being proudly (e.g.) American or Irish or Ugandan is just playing into the hands of the captalist warlords of government. The cultures of the world are there to be consumed from the Smogersbord of life:
dig in and make them your own! We own them all already!!!!

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I’m with yhaalhouse, except that I don’t think cultures belong to people, it’s people who belong to cultures. I come to it with a sense of devotion rather than ownership.

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It is an interesting question. I have the privilege of leading a largish "community traditional music band." Naturally members have their different interests, we have several nationalities in the group, and we play music from various traditions, but I don’t feel comfortable that we should play music unless we have a feel for the context and community from which it came. We need to know "what they have for breakfast!" More particularly, if it’s dance music we need to be familiar with the dance, and preferably have members who’ve danced it.

For myself, I’m English, more particularly Gloucestershire, born and bred, but I have various connections with Ireland, past and present. I don’t think I’d feel the same about playing the music without them, and I don’t think I could become enthusiastic about a tradition from far away with which I have no connection, though I respect the choice of those that do.

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Why do many have to declare their particular little parochial origins or loyalties? Why does it matter where anyone or their family comes from?

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I’m not going to chuck everything I hold dear for this "New World Order" being pushed on me by yhaalhouse! I’m an Irish American from Pennsylvania and PROUD OF IT! 🙂

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YH - Because to some it does. If it doesn’t to you, that’s fine. They don’t have to account to you any more than you have to to them.

National identity can be used to evil ends, but so can many things, religion being a prime example. That doesn’t mean they are not capable of doing good.

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Why be proud of the geographical place you randomly happened to be born?!!! Fond of; happy with the familiarity; at home with- ok! But ‘proud’?!!!??

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maybe you’d feel differently if your hometown had a better football team?

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"do keen players of Irish trad music from other country’s begin to Identify to Ireland to the point that they start considering themselves Irish?…"

Naw. But then again I’ve only been playing Irish music for a year now and already my back yard is populated with leprechauns, fairies, and the occasional water kelpie.*

David E
*(I know, they’re Scottish but the Scots-Irish people settled heavily here in central south-eastern US.)

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Culture is great and part of life’s rich tapestry. Variations from place to place make for a more interesting world, in music and many other spheres. Embrace it, take from it and contribute to it.

Nations were formed by greedy and vain aristocrats and warriors and religious groups and anyone taking nationalism too seriously should be avoided. Nationalism can and does cause wars, and culture is not nationalism. They are certainly related, but different.

At least, that’s what I think!

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Would not want a kelpie in my backyard. The last one I heard about ate the dude who tried to ride it and left his lungs on the shores of a loch.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

"As a Scot I have no need to identify with inferior cultures."…. Yeah, you BRITS are all the same!

"I don’t feel comfortable that we should play music unless we have a feel for the context and community from which it came. We need to know "what they have for breakfast!"…
That’s true! I’m English and before I picked up my fiddle this morning I ate a full English breakfast;- i.e., both toast AND cornflakes!

And on a more serious note, just to follow up Yhaalhouses comment about pride. Well most countries have too much to be ashamed of for me to talk about pride of association. I think if a person is being truly honest enough to them self then the best they could claim is pride in them self. I couldn’t do that. Sure I am proud of certain things in my life, but of myself as a whole, no wayI I look at it the same with countries (except the mass is more evil than I am). Also to claim that you are proud to be of your country suggests to me that you see it as superior to other countries. I personally hate nationalism and I agree with Yhaalhouse (which doesn’t happen all that much).

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Silverspear, maybe you should avoid the whisky on weekdays!

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I will refrain from commenting any further on nationalism, as this site is about the cultural institution that is Irish Traditional Music. Culture, culture, culture!

Looking forward to a Friday night of whiskey ‘n’ whistles. The music belongs to us all, but the whiskey is mine 🙂

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Yes Madoc, you are right (but not about avoiding whisky on weekdays) ….we’ve got completely and dangerously sidetracked.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

It’s true! Read the Scottish folktales about kelpies. They are not nice critters.

I should have some whisky. That is also true.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

"Would not want a kelpie in my backyard. The last one I heard about ate the dude who tried to ride it and left his lungs on the shores of a loch."

So that’ what happened to my Mother-In-Law. :-0

David E

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Silverspear, uncork that bottle!

All this talk of whisky is making it very difficult to ignore the Bruichladdich sitting on the bookshelf. I should transfer it to the top shelf and out of view as a precaution.

Gobby, lets hope that is an end to it.

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

In Australia a kelpie is a sheepdog and they are generally really good natured little people. I’ve had a few of them in my backyard over the years.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

"the Bruichladdich sitting on the bookshelf. I should transfer it to the top shelf and out of view as a precaution" Madoc, A Belfast friend of mine used to transfer all his good whiskey into cheap whiskey bottles and put them on the bottom shelf, and he then filled his good labeled bottles with his cheap whiskeys and put them on the top shelf. He claimed that this not only fooled his visitors, but helped him not drink his good stuff (trues story).

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

The cultures of the world are there to be consumed from the Smogersbord of life:
dig in and make them your own! We own them all already!!!!

Cosmopolitanism or neo-colonialism…. Fine line :p

I love Scottish nationalism as it is inclusive and bucks the trend of the uglier side of our indoctrination into this near-ubiquitous ideology!

I love Ireland - because it’s canny, and the tunes are good too!

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

"The last one I heard about ate the dude who tried to ride it and left his lungs on the shores of a loch."

Clearly they were agents of the US FDA which does not recognise lungs as legal foodstuffs, their absurd rationale for banning haggis.

Ireland for music, Scotland for whisky. In each case the other nation has it’s attractions but rich variety has to win out.

Back to that subject of non-Irish players in Ireland, I was with a couple of friends from England at a session in Ireland which had that Father Ted aspect, although mostly folk from Yorkshire (there appeared to be a session that had emigrated as a whole unit). Chatting to another player, my mate hearing his accent said "Oh , you’re English too ?" "Don’t call me English, I’ve lived here for twenty years" was the reply, which we found both hilarious and wierd. It suggested to me a strange insecurity about belonging in a place, I’ve lived in Scotland for fifteen or more years, and don’t plan to live anywhere else (why on earth would anyone want to?) but I remain English. At least till the day we get independence …..It’s not something I think about although occasionally at work I’m reminded how exotic my accent is in North Lanarkshire. Getting hung up about your desired national identity seems like people I knew who changed their name in the belief that this would make them a different person - it ain’t what’s on the label that counts, it’s what’s inside the bottle!

Preferably Ardbeg

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Gobby - Xposted, that’s the reality of my metaphor !

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

" it ain’t what’s on the label that counts, it’s what’s inside the bottle!"… that’s not only good words, but considering what I just said to Madoc, quite pertinent to this new sidetrack of food and drink.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I think there is some Ardbeg in the whisky cabinet!

I know someone who puts spaghetti into old whisky boxes. If that does not put you off if you are pi$$ed and searching for your dram, I don’t know what will.

(that said, I think they have written on the box. "This is not whisky")

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Should I use cooked or raw spaghetti?

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Raw spaghetti for crunchiness.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Well, cooked spaghetti tends to go onto a plate rather than being kept in a box in my experience, but hey, maybe that’s a cultural thing ?

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Never mind the food - music and drink will do for me! Gobby, where in Belfast is your friend? I will have to visit one evening with my new found knowledge…

Sorry Randy, Ardbeg 10 year old is the bottle I always leave in the cupboard.

Riding a kelpie sounds a bit dodgy to me…

Speaking of whisky, it was a mistake to lift that bottle. Just a small one. Slainte! Here’s to musical culture!

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Madoc, Sorry but my mate from Belfast lives in Brisbane. He used to live in Townsville, same as me, but he had to move when he realised that I’d twigged his shifty little trick.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

In Rhode Island, in the NE USA, most sessions are in Irish pubs, and so the music follows suit. People of all backgrounds and ethnic groups find they like the tunes and the open nature of sessions. Around here, I would say that only about a quarter of the folks playing Irish music are more Irish than anything else. Thinking back to recent local sessions, I have seen folks with English, Irish, Cuban, Scots, English, Belgian, Canadian, Italian, French and German heritages.
I have also played in sessions in US pubs that brand themselves as English and Scottish pubs. Interestingly enough, you hear a lot of Irish music in those pubs, too.
I have seen some people from other heritages throw themselves into the Irish culture as well as the music, but most folks are just there for the music.

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Ah well Gobby, there’s still plenty left in my bottle, for now!

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I’m an American, transplanted to Australia 24 years ago.
My mother’s German/Jewish (born in Germany); my father was an
American Jew - his grandparents from Germany and Austria-Hungary.

I love the Irish Trad music and the cultural/personality quirks
of the Irish-born - especially Irish women, but I’m not so interested
in the whole Irish package. It has a dark side. A lot of it is generic Western
European culture anyhow - my own culture already.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

I’m still hung up on that hyphenated American thing. My wife says that if I go far enough back she’s pretty sure she can be justified in calling me a Neanderthal-American. I’m not sure whether she’s talking about the length of my arms, my back hair, or my social skills!

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Ha hah, that’s funny! But your wife may have a valid point there.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

also just about anybody with European roots is related to the Vikings

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A tourist pub in the summer in Galway is filled with tourist musicians?

Call me not very shocked.

Why are you?

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I often wonder why my light skin comes from but I’ve never considered myself Irish. One of my friends said I have an "Irish Heart" though, but I have no idea what she meant.

About the "foreigners" in the Irish speaking pub though: Being so in love with a culture that you decide to learn it’s language has to be the utmost form of devotion and respect.

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I am Scottish. I like to play tunes and most of the tunes I like to ply happen to be Irish. Some others are Scottish, some others are Canadian. (Some are Irish and Scottish). It doesn’t mean I want to be Irish.
I practice Tai Chi; I don’t want to be Chinese.

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

First we should consider the question: How "Irish" is Ireland? Ireland has always been open to the seafaring nations, and therefore it it’s neither an isolated country nor – heaven thanks! – a nation of "racial purity".
A Swiss study, concerning the question, "how German are the Germans?" has revealed astonishing results: Only 6% of all Germans have "German" ancestors, 45% have Celtic ancestors (!), more than 30% descended from eastern Europeans, 10% are Jewish and the rest are Vikings and Slavs (http://studgendeutsch.blogspot.de/2007/11/die-zusammensetzung-der-bevlkerung.html).
So much for "Cultural Identity".

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

And then keep going until we all came out of Africa.

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I guess that this has nothing to do with it all, but the thread is dying anyway… My last comment just made me think again about an old acquaintance of mine, a video of whom I posted yesterday on another thread; https://thesession.org/discussions/35504#comment751026d. About 20 years ago, Late one afternoon in Townsville (North Queensland OZ) I was cycling out to my University when this van literally cut me off and ran me into the curb. At first I thought I was going to get bashed by a band of thugs, but out steps this bloke, and completely out of the blue he asked me, "Is it true that once all human beings were black?" I was a bit stunned because this was the first time I remember ever meeting the guy, yet he seemed to know who I was. "Yes", I said. "That’s true", and then I added that if the climate stays the same there’s a good chance that all Australians will eventually be black again. He seemed extremely please with my answer, said thanks, and drove off, That’s him in that video I posted.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

People have made comparisons here between food and music as a reason to suggest that listening, playing and experiencing Irish music doesn’t in some way make you more Irish.

I disagree with those comparisons and I disagree with the idea that listening to a culture’s traditional music doesn’t affect the listener in some meaningful and permanent way.

Of course it depends on the degree to which one immerses themselves in the music.

Food goes in to the body and comes out again.

Music on the other hand permeates the soul.

The two cannot be compared, because although its true to say each can have certain geographical and culturally unique origins, they are not in any way similar.

Traditional music is more than just notes and rhythm, it is a language which can’t be spoken, which transcends time and space, but tells a story truer and clearer than words, pictures or text ever could.

It comes from a place beyond physical perception and touches that same place which exists in each of us, and which is common to everyone of us whether we recognise it or not.

Whether you accept it or not, or realise it or not, if you have devoted your time, effort and ears to Irish music, you have become more Irish as a consequence.

Your mind and soul are more receptive to the beat of Irish culture and the emotions past and present that have created, described and evolved the music, and thats a process that is irreversible - which is a good thing.

Many Irish people today aren’t culturally Irish in the sense which is encapsulated in Irish music, but everyone who seriously loves and believes Irish music can say for sure that they are in some personal way Irish.

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That’s a beautiful sentiment, Mikiemax.

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Thanks Cheeky Elf.

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

All sounds interesting but to my mind that then begs the question… what about Irish people who dont like trad music… are they any less Irish?

What about young Paddy O’ Shea from Co Kerry who play Hurling speaks Gaeilge but loves Dance music of the rave variety?

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Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

You see I think the common misconception with these types of discussions is that somehow culture is synonymous with nationality - which isn’t the case obviously.

Culture is something that exists despite national boundaries and can, and does cross those boundaries. It’s a living influence more than a category per se.

Culture is shared between people. Typically and traditionally it could be defined geographically - but that’s changing at an increased rate in the modern context.

Of course Nationalism is also shared between people, and aspects of nationalism can and do form part of certain Cultures - and would have been very prevalent since the early 20th century I think.

Food and Sport and Humour and Dance all form part of Culture, as does Art and Literature etc.

So just because someone doesn’t like Irish music won’t mean that they are less Irish than someone who does.

However immersing yourself in the culture of another "Nation" exposes you to influences of that "Nation" which you may otherwise not be privy too, and therefore you become influenced by that culture.

People who say that they practise Martial Arts but that doesn’t make them Chinese are technically correct.

They don’t gain citizenship of China by virtue of practising martial arts, no matter hopw proficient they are at it, however, depending on their dedication to practising martial arts they will be exposed to traditional Chinese philosophy and psychology (to use modern terms) and that exposure (depending on the individual - and their receptiveness to other cultures) will cause them in certain cases to become more consonant with the ideals of the Chinese culture that established and developed martial arts. It’s a physical process of exercise and expression, but with spiritual and meditative components which originated in a common philosophy of thought and experience shared between certain traditional Chinese people.

So no, I don’t believe the man who plays Gaelic football and likes rave music is less Irish than lets say Paddy Cronin - each to their own as they say.

But the otherside of the coin is there are plenty Irish citizens who live in Ireland, but who it could be said aren’t culturally Irish in the traditional sense that it is understood.

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Well explained Mikemax.

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Yes indeed Mikemax.

Culture and nationality are entwined and can be very hard to separate.

It is true - some people born on the island of Ireland are culturally not very Irish. In fact some people in Northern Ireland would deny being Irish at all. Others from different countries have come and taken a fresh interest from an outside viewpoint, and can end up more culturally active and aware than those born in the country. Culture is more fluid than nationality, which can be more precisely defined.

But back to the music. Northern Ireland has a very lively ITM scene, and this is the culture that interests me.

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Thx guys but since I’m not that clever this is getting too deep for me. 🙂

Lets get back to ‘how to play triplets on the banjo’ 🙂

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Thanks peeps.

I’m 100% in agreement with the last posts.

Let’s play some music! And by "play" I mean discuss, and by "discuss" I mean argue about. 🙂

Re: Cultural Identity of Non-Irish people who play Trad Music?

Mikiemax, really enjoyed your contributions to this thread.