Dublin pub music experiences
I just returned from a few days in Dublin- my first time in Ireland- and of course I visited several pubs and heard what music I could.
I was purely being a tourist. I didn’t bring an instrument.
Before this trip I looked over some old threads here of people asking where to go to hear trad sessions. What was interesting about these threads is that the advice of where NOT to go outnumbered the advice of where TO go, and the where not was overwhelmingly Temple Bar.
Being an American tourist of course I went there!
It was exactly as reported: prepackaged music performances aimed at tourists. Too loud. And even though it was only April the streets were thronged with Italians, French, and yes Americans. Did I mention the guy in the leprechaun suit? Oi oi. Got out quick.
I found a nice session right where you all said I would: The Cobblestone. As reported it was conveniently close to a Luas stop. (BTW for someone from the Greater Los Angeles area the Public transport in Dublin is amazing. We have nothing close! You have Luas and DART and buses and trains, and with the wonderful Leap Card in your hand you can go anywhere from Dublin Airport to Howth, and we did.)
The Cobblestone session had fiddles and flutes and a banjo and a singer. Different from sessions here I’ve been to, that session had as much song as tunes. The songs were solo and long, mostly the sort that tell a complicated humourous story.
It being early it wasn’t difficult finding a seat at the bar close to the music. The only thing I did other than listen and drink was to ask one of the fluteplayers about his Radcliff flute (they’re easy to spot).
When we left Cobblestone we got some very good pizza at Bel Cibo, halfway between Cobblestone at the Luas stop.
The next night we went to Pipers Corner. The music was wonderful. There was a terrific young piper, two fluters, three fiddlers, a guitarist, and a fellow who switched between being one of the fluters and singing. He had a massive tone on the flute and was a fine singer too. Once again there was as much song as tunes.
I thought it odd how empty the place was. At most it was less than half full, except when a tour group stopped by for a bit. (They had a half-pint each, then departed.) It was great for us because we could hear the music. The acoustics were far better than at the Cobblestone, it seemed to me.
I don’t know, of course, whether the music at these places were social gatherings or paid perfomers. I did notice that Pipers Corner isn’t listed as being a session on this site.
Overall I felt that those particular sessions weren’t much different from the ones here other than having a higher portion of song. They were around the same size as most of the sessions I’ve seen here, a half-dozen or so players.
We also stopped by O Donoghue’s but there was no music going at that time. Actually several other pubs we visited had "live music" signs but there wasn’t music when we happened to be there.