Sunday, 25 November 2007

Dublin Musical Pub Crawl May 2006

My friend Debbi had recommended the Musical Pub Crawl highly so on the Thursday evening of our holiday we decided to go and sample it for ourselves. We walked to the Oliver St John Gogarty pub in Fleet Street which is the meeting place for the Pub Crawl. We went to an upstairs bar paid our money and waited for the event to start. Most of the other people going on the tour seemed to be Americans. After another rather wet day the rain had stopped and the sun had come out, as it had done on every evening of our holiday.
There were 2 musicians, Andy (who hada bit of a youthful Edge look about him) who played the fiddle and Mark who sang and played the guitar and bodhran and who did most of the talking. The first session was quite short and, as the pub had people in it who were not on the tour, it was quite noisy and it was hard to hear what was said, and even the music at times.

We then left and headed the short distance to the Ha-Penny Bridge Inn, which as the name suggests is right beside that elegant bridge over the River Liffey. Indeed you could look out of the upstairs window down onto the bridge and Dublin life streaming across it. This time we were in a room just for the session and we got a really good seat at the front.

Mark told us a little about the Inn, how it is one of only two in the city centre that hasn't had the heart ripped out of it in the name of modernisation. The only other original pub in the neighbourhood is The Palace which is also sometimes visited on this Tour. He told us about the instruments used in Irish music - the fiddle, bodhran, pipes and the new interloper, the guitar - which is frowned upon by some traditional musicians. They played a mixture of songs and instrumentals, during the latter Andy showed his amazing talent playing the fiddle. Mark got the auidience to join in with the chorus of some songs and it was great fun.

After about 50 minutes it was time to move on to the next
pub - the Exchequer Bar in Exchequer Street near Grafton Street. Again there was a room upstairs specially set aside for the Tour and again we got really good seats at the front. Mark told us about the different styles of Irish music/singing, jigs, reels, and sean nos, meaning old style, singing which is a very paticular style using the unaccompanied voice. He then sang 2 songs, one in Irish and one in English, I thought they were very beautiful and moving.

Finally near the end of the session there was the "Noble Call" for anyone from the audience to sing or play a song. An elderly American lady volunteered and sang a odd little ditty called "Detour" which everyone joined in on the catchy chorus. Then a girl (who apparently was a musician and going to a festival in Ennis the following weekend) played something on the guitar with Andy accompanying her on the fiddle.

And that was it, the end of a great night, I'd had fun and learned a lot about traditional Irish music, which I've always loved. The Musical Pub Crawl is two and a half hours long and costs 12 Euros, and is well worth the money, try it when you are next in Dublin.

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