Ireland Studies: Post 8


Today is Friday and it’s my first weekday of no classes, so today as the mother at the house I’m staying at “relax today.”  Just that I will do.

Two days ago when Claire was going and checking out fiddles at this gentleman’s place I went along because he was a bodhran player.  His name is Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh, if you google his name you will see he is a big deal in the bodhran world.  He has made many improvements to both playing and the making of bodhrans.  Such as, the helping of of the invention of tune-able bodhrans, and blush playing on the bodhran.  While at his house he had my take my bodhran out.  He looked at it for a while and played it for some time, which i must say was a sight to see.  He said it was quite a decent drum, so I will take his word on it.  Then he wanted to hear me play, talk about being intimidated.  He just wanted me to play a straight eighth note feel.  As I did that he was telling me how he see so many young players playing the drum wrong with a straight wrist and not curved, which will hinder them later on life with the drum and cause problem with the wrist.  He is a nice guy, yet he complains a lot, HAHA he’s not a real fan of bodhran players.

The past few days I have been session deprived, so I went to a session last night, after not going to one in two days.  Claire and I went to a nice pub where we met Mary, she is also in the program.  She is an older later, I would say in her late 60s 70s.  She so nice, and apparently she wants to adopt me, because I was helping her over the stone walls when we had out archaeology field trip. She lives in Maine but she move to the states when she was a little girl from Ireland and this is was first time back since then.  She is one happy little soul.  We sat and listen to the session, which was very good.  They will be playing at Taaffes this coming Tuesday, so I know Claire and I will be going and Mike my roommate said last night he wants to come to a good session sometime, so maybe he will come.  After the session Claire talked to the fiddle player and when he plays as Taaffes next week he said he would bring his old fiddle he doesn’t use for her to barrow and try out.

This weekend I will be going to the Aran Island, so that should be a lot of fun. Till then I hope to hear a lot more session and play some bodhran.


Ireland Studies: Post 7

Today was a big day for classes and an archaeology field trip.  We had a our first sean nos dance session.  Where we learned a few traditional steps, lets say my legs and my do not work well together.  I have no control over them, so basically I was just wiggling around.  Next session s tomorrow……. O boy.

After that we had a field trip for archaeology, where we went to see some megalithic tombs and do a little hiking.  Probably my favorite part was talking into one of the rock forms, no one else wanted to but it was cool.  There was two small areas inside the rocks, one where had to get on your stomach to get to, I barely fit but Sam had no problem.  Bang being a little broad and big. It was good to see the limestone fields, and walking all over these rocks. 

After the field trip I got some Mexican food, and actually met up with Sam and some other and had some pints.  yet again some great stories.  He asked about my session I played and apparently the Crane hardcore traditional music session pub.  Got to put in my resume  that I played in the Crane.

Well I have my second Gaelic language class in about 1.5 hours and then probably going to town to help Claire get her fiddle.  So there will be a little Irish group of Americans playing Trad.

Ireland Studies: Post 6

Hello again,

It’s been two days since my last post but here are the details. Yesterday was a great day for one reason, but I will leave that for the end.  For lunch I had bacon, potatoes, cabbage, and a white gravy.  The bacon looked and tasted like ham really……. I think it was.  I had both my archaeology, which we learned about the neolithic period, and music and dance, which we talked about the history and important of uillean pipes in Ireland.  Also, we had a Gaelic language class we could go to if we wanted to.  It was fun but Gaelic is hard.

Of course after all that I went and listened to some session in town, but this time I brought my Bodhran.  Hoping maybe someone would invited me to their session. I went to Tig Coili’s first where when I got there there were two fiddle players player.  They did invite me into the session but of course I was too afraid to join in so I sat and listened. There was and older gentlemen who was sitting and listening but one of the girl fiddlers gave her fiddle to him so she could get a drink.  Apparently this guy could play, and it was great to hear a man at his age still has some chops.  Here’s a picture and I think the man next to him is Santa Clause.  He must like Irish music.

After that session the banjo player from the past two night came and a bodhran player.  I sat next to the bodhran player and asked hima few questions about player. He was very helpful, I learned how to get the bass and treble tones out of the drum.  He was wicked good, and it was very inspiring. To get off topic there was a little girl, probably 4 or 5 years old who was dancing around the pub, and some Ravens football fans, I think they actually where from the states because it was a family. I left and met up with some other students.

We went to the Crane, first time ever going to this pub. The session was very relax and less crowded than Tig Coili’s. We sat and listened but after a while everyone left to sea shore to watch the sun set,but I stayed at the pub and listened.  Shortly after A couple came in and sat next to me.  They were at Tig Coili’s and they saw me.  They where from Southern Ireland and come to Galway every once and a while. They wanted to hear me play, and their was no bodhran player. And you know what I got up and got my bodhran out and sat next to one of the players and asked if I could join in.  They were please to have a bodhran player.  I played my very first session that night, for about 1 hour of more, and it was great. Near the end of the session my friends came back and where surprised to see my playing. They where not the only ones cheering my on apparently. The two Irish folks that wanted me to play were asked by some other people who I was and what I was playing. They where apparently from the state and it was their first trip to Ireland. After I spoke with them, they where from New Mexico and on vacation.  They said it was good to see an American playing Irish music.  It’s always a good feeling to know someone enjoyed listening to you play.

Even though it wasn’t perfecting playing, it was my first time and I had a BLAST!!!

Ireland Studies: Post 5

Well yesterday was my first free day, and what did I do but spend it going and listening to sessions.  The first session was at Tig Coili, apparently is is pretty well knowing for its sessions.  It won and award in 2006. There was origanlly a flute player, banjo, and fiddle but a little later a bodhran player came for a little while.  He was wicked good, and he played top-end style.  I do not know how to play the style of playing, and its cool.  One day I will learn. The second session I went to was at the Merry Fiddler.  A nice small pub, with a nice young group of players.  A flute, guitar, and piano accordion.  A also a  banjo player joined and and sang a few tunes.  But something else this session had was a dancer for a few sets she danced, which was very nice to watch.

I went to all these session with a girl named Claire, she is a student in the program and she is from Australia.  I have only met two people outside of the USA in this program, another girl from Canada. Well Claire plays the fiddle, and she put some money down to buy one here.  So when she does I will be playing some Trad Irish tunes.  My family says we should just play outside with a hat and and could probably make a lot of money.  I don’t know if the other people in the program are as interested in the music here as Claire and myself are, so now I have  session buddy.

Okay here it goes, I am sure many of you are wondering and want to ask if the beer here, more so does Guinness taste better.  As some if most of you I am more of a Smithwicks drinker when it comes to beer.  It is an Irish red ale.  But back to the subject.  The answer is YES, the beer here does taste better.  The Guinness and the Smithwicks taste less bitter than at home, probably because it doesn’t have to travel as far, and also the bartenders take care of there beer. One cool thing I got once was at Taaffs was Smithwicks with with foam Guinness on top. It had the wonderful foam of the Guinness with the taste of Smithwicks.

Today I have much reading to do and I hope to play my bodhran later, and of course catch a session.

Ireland Studies: Post 4

Yesterday was Friday, and I will first start by wishing Sara Kubik a happy birthday from Ireland, I drank a pint for you.

Yet again I ran into Sam again, my archaeology professor, sat and had tea for a while.  He recommened I go to some place on Wednesday for watch a session.  I will have to email him to see what the place is again, and maybe I will get to see it.  Speaking of Irish sessions, I was walking around downtown Galway to find some good music.  I found a session going on, it had a uillean pipe, two flutes, and a guitar.  It was nice to to sit and enjoy the music.  While at the Pub I met a London man who had too much to drink, he thought i was 18 because all Americans who are at the pub and semi look younger are not 21+.  So they drink when they can, Had to tell the man I was legal in the states, he seemed confused but hey whatever.  After a while of sitting at the bar one of the bartenders asked where I was from in the, because he saw my Boston hat and I didn’t sound Irish.  I told him where and he asked if I know of Nashua and The Peddlers Daughter.  Apparently his brother owns Peddlers.  What a small world.  After the session was over I tried to find more sessions not luck.

I am going to move onto today now, GREAT DAY!!!!! Walking around Galway with some friends and I got to choose where to go after a while.  So of course I wanted to check out the music store.  When we talked in it was a small shop probably 5feet by 15feet big room. There were two gentleman talking at the desk and I asked if I could look at some bodhrans.  One of the guys laughed and said he was a bodhran maker and he was dropping off some of his newer drums.  He hand makes them, and he showed me some.  O man they were all great but I pick a 16×6 black ash stained, birth frame drum.  Has a very nice dark mellow tone 🙂 Heres some pictures I took.

The man was very nice his name was Ben March, and he said I should check out some bodhran session next week.


Also he is going to call up some people in Boston to see if I could get  lesson, which would be great.

Great day and I am going to be heading off to another session later tonight 🙂 One of these days I will see if I can join in and play some bodhran.


Ireland Studies: Post 3

Hello every0ne,

The other day was a good day, I only had archaeology.  Other than that the school showed a film I went and watched, I can’t remember the name.  It was and old film about a man returning to home to Ireland to live.  He meets a redheaded girl and falls in love but her bother does not like this American.  The American is afraid to fight the brother because he was a heavyweight boxer who killed someone in a match and swear to never fight again.  I enjoyed it, and later we went and saw a playing called “The Cripple of Inishman” I have no idea what just happened to my text but I am not going to try and fix it.  Funny play.

After the play I just walked and followed my ears. I got to a pub where three younger gentlemen played tunes.  The bodhran player was getting tired while playing there last reel, I wanted to step in and help but it was almost done so I just enjoyed it.  While at the pub I met a few people someone from Boston, and older man who was on vacation.  Also met two girls from France.  I met and talked with them because they walked in and ordered a pint but the pub did accept credit and they didn’t have money so I bought their pints.  After the point all the irish folks called me the “nice guy.” I wasnt the best music I have heard but I was just going to do to any place that wasnt playing loud pop music, and this was the first place that i found that was playing semi-tradtional music.  Lots of fun.

This morning I had my first session of music and dance I have another in 2.5hours and I had archaeology.  The archaeology professor and I seem to bump into each other a a lot and talk.  He was saying there is a good session in his hometown every Wednesday, and if I have the chance to get over there it would be great fun.

I have been drinking so much tea since I have been here, I get a cup and do my work in the lodge at campus a lot, this is where my Professor joined me and we talked for sometime.

Weather here is unpredictable, I alway walk with my umbrella, and its fairly cool here, I had to geta sweater because I didn’t bring any coat. 🙂 Always good when I can wear a sweater outside and not sweat.

Tonight I hope to find another place that has something traditional to listen to and have a good conversation with a local.

Ireland Studies: Post 2

Another day down,

First day of actual classes.  I’m taking archaeology and traditional Irish music and dance.  Both of the professors are great, I am going to enjoy both of these classes.  The music and dance professor will have us dancing and singing if you want to know, so maybe when I get back state side I can show you some sean nos steps.  That is if I am any good at it.  I spoke with the professor where there are great Irish traditional sessions, hopefully she emails me some spots to check out.  The archaeology professor is a funny man who after any subject matter says if you see me at a pub and want to talk archaeology over a pint, I would be more than happy to do so.

After all the classes were done we all had a reception, where we got to have some drinks and some food.  All the professors came by where both my music and dance professor came up to me and got me a drink.  Sweet, I hope this means they like me, yet again I believe I  was one of the few people after class that spoke with them for a while and introduced myself.  This isn’t even the best part, but after a while of just talking to some people the archaeology professor walks up and starts talking to us.  We ask him about his work and why he likes viking so much.  He said in class that vikings get a bad rep and they rock.  Only a few quotes from him that he said that were funny, this isn’t me saying but these are words he said about the vikings. “They are the SHIT”, and “pretend you are about to go to war and you see these big 6’5″ mother fuckers walking towards you with with two long swords on there backs, swords on either sides, diggers on there legs, a long bow, and a short bow walking towards you.” I got a kick out of this when he was walking around pretending he had all this stuff on.  By that time all the students where gone accept about 5 of us who where talking to the professor. He also got me another round of beer.  great guy can’t wait to have class today with him and hear what funny stories he has today.

Other than that I went and saw and Irish friend’s friend play at a pub.  That was good to do.  Now I know where the downtown area is.  Hope to explore some this weekend.

Today was funny and fun, can’t wait to see and hear more.