Sessions in Connemara

Sessions in Connemara

We are heading out to Clifden in Connemara for a couple of weeks. I know there are loads of sessions in Galway City itself , but does anyone know of any sessions further west closer to clifden. Thanks in advance.

Re: Sessions in Connemara

Seeing as there’s no replies so far : I spent a bit of time in Spiddal some years ago. Lots of bars with organised sessions. The bars had signs outsides detailing what nights the sessions were happening. However, these are not drop in sessions. They are performances. Some of the Spiddal bars have (or at least, had) long thin tables in the center of the floor for the musicians to set their drinks on.Stools were arranged around these tables for the participating musicians to be able to face each other and ignore the customers. The customers seats were arranged around the musicians, pretty much like what I would imagine a bull fight arena to be. Hundreds of customers listening to a handful of musicians, looking like bystanders at a funeral was my take on it all. I spent a happy afternoon in a Spiddal bar playing and singing. When the local lads came in the barman asked them to take me under their wing for the night. After the first two bars I knew I was WAY out of my depth. Gave it a few minutes, thanked the lads for their invite, then f***ed off out of their way. Clifden would be the same I’d imagine. I reckon the locals all practise like mad all through the winter, then make a few euro in the summer. It’s performance and pay time for the local lads. If you’re looking for a session, walk into a bar, say "D’ye mind if I play?" and just get stuck in.
Alex

PS If anyone thinks I’m wrong, tell me!

Re: Sessions in Connemara

When I visit Ireland I try and catch up with John .G/ and Marie Walsh in Clifden, always great tunes with either one, or both if you get lucky. Just ask at one of the bars.

Re: Sessions in Connemara

We go to Louisburgh in Mayo, where there are lots of great sessions, but it is quite a drive from Clifden, though a beautiful one on a fine day around the Killary Harbour. We have been out to sessions in the Rock Bar on a Sunday afternoon/evening, on the Mayo side of Leenane, which is a little closer. Good Luck!

Re: Sessions in Connemara

One December night in 2010 I was in Clifden. It was a week night and the streets were sheets of ice, snow was everywhere and walking around was difficult. I ducked into the only establishment that was still open: Lowry’s Bar in Market Street. The grub was good, the barmaid friendly and there were of course the obligatory two old farts arguing at the end of the bar in eloquent, if rancorous Irish.

As I finished my excellent dinner, in walked a bunch of musicians. Catching sight of my fiddle case, one of them nodded approval and invited me to sit in. Off we went through the warm up drill of Whelan’s, Morrison’s and a couple of jigs I didn’t know, ending up with a rousing effort at Sheehan’s reel. The funny thing was, the banjo player—an Englishman—would pull out his notebook at the end of every set. He wrote down the names of the tunes, the names of the players, instruments and keys. I think he also added a note on the quality of the performance. It was a thick notebook and it was clear that this was his usual practice. Only once the scribe had completed his work could the next tune begin.

As boring as all this was, the thought occurred to me that one day, this guy’s scribblings would probably make a fascinating research tool for 22nd century ethnomusicologists. That was December. I doubt that summer sessions with hordes of tourists would brook that kind of academic rigour.

It has only now, seven years later, occurred to me that my name might be etched on the pages of that book.
Judge: "Where were you on the night of Dec. 9th 2010?
Me: "Lowry’s, Clifden, your honour….honest. Look in the book!"
Judge: "Ah…yes…it says here you played Farewell to Ireland too fast. Guilty!"

P.S. I’m looking forward to the day I wander into the gardens at Kylemore Abbey at Letterfrack, to find the ghost of Seán O Riada leading a session of Carolan tunes in the Gardeners’ House. Until then, there’s always Lowry’s in Clifden. I’ll be there some time in August this year. Slán libh.