Irish music

Irish music

Discover Irish music


In Ireland, traditional music is part of the soul and cultural identity of the country. It is the symbol of the island, of its tradition, as well as the testimony of its tormented history. The proof is when you push the door of an Irish pub: many groups offer live sessions, to the delight of customers!

One discovers there festive pieces, sometimes merry, sometimes darker, marked by joy and melancholy. The whole is relayed by traditional instruments full of emotion: bodhràn, fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipe… One can only fall under their charm!

Music in Ireland

An art of living, omnipresent in the daily life of the Irish

A bodhran - © WavebreakmediaMicro

A bodhran – © WavebreakmediaMicro

When one travels in Ireland, the observation is fast. Music is everywhere. In the pubs, in the street… It’s impossible to escape a traditional tune, a jig or a reel that won’t make you want to dance!

Many artists and musicians cross paths, offering improvised concerts in the street (they are called buskers). The greatest Irish artists started this way: from Bono to Damien Rice, many musicians and singers have tried street concerts before becoming successful!

The concert halls are also full and the program of the cities and countryside is always very animated.

A music long forbidden by the British

Although traditional music coexists today with more contemporary tunes broadcast on the radio (due to the younger generation), “old time music” is still a fundamental part of contemporary Irish society.

Whatever the generation, the population remains strongly attached to its musical cultural heritage. And for good reason: Irish traditional music has had a troubled history. Indeed, it is estimated that Irish music was born in the 9th century within local Gaelic clans. However, it would have been banned by the British in the 12th century, who wanted to impose their culture on Irish soil.

The Irish would then have maintained their traditions in a clandestine way during centuries. They organized sessions in the greatest secrecy. More than simple tunes, Irish music is for the population a militant and committed act, necessary to the protection of their Gaelic cultural identity.

A music carried by unique instruments

Irish music is rather easy to recognize. It has the advantage of possessing a unique identity: its sounds, its instruments, its rhythms… all of them are evocative of a soul and a sensitivity of their own.

It can be recognized by its typical instruments:

  • the bodhràn : a percussion instrument made of goat skin
  • the uilleann pipe : a typical bagpipe, which is inflated with the arm and not with the mouth
  • the Irish bouzouki : a guitar with a very particular sound,
  • the fiddle : a typical violin
  • the tin whistle: a small, piercing and charming flute.

Their playing together offers melodies of great intensity. Each song is an invitation to humor, poetry or to party. This is evidenced by the many Irish pubs that literally burst into flames in the evening after a few jigs! Everyone laughs, sings and dances: you don’t have to be Irish to join the party. Irish music speaks to all hearts and souls!

Concerts to be experienced in the pub!

If you are interested in a trip to Ireland, we recommend you to experience a session in an Irish pub!

These concerts are generally organized in the evening: the groups revisit the traditional Irish repertoire and cover the greatest classics of the country.

It is then a pleasure to sit at a table, to taste a freshly served pint, while listening to festive tunes that will make you want to sing and dance!

The pub then takes on a unique and warm atmosphere, where we enjoy talking to strangers, smiling, clapping our hands… This is what we call the “Irish craic” experience: you live a fun and unforgettable moment, all in simplicity and emotion!

Traditional artists… as well as more modern ones

The Cranberries

The Cranberries

But don’t be mistaken in thinking that Irish music is only traditional. Certainly, the country has great artists like the Chieftains, Altan, The Pogues, Planxty Molly and many others…

But Ireland also has its clique of more modern artists: musicians and singers who knew to diversify in the pop or the rock. Among them, some have become international icons. Legendary figures like U2, Rory Gallagher, the Cranberries, the Corrs, Enya, Kodaline… and many others!

Of course, some of them are far from traditional Irish music, but others have known how to merge musical heritage and new trends. This gives innovative melodies, which have touched the hearts of millions of people.


Irish music : what not to miss