Magazine

My Ireland: A traditional music session in Kilkenny

Hands clapping, toes tapping and endless craic (fun) are the key notes of a trad music session in Ireland – so it's no surprise that this one hit all the high notes and much more...

The city of Kilkenny in Ireland's Ancient East isn't just a great spot to explore medieval history, it's the perfect place to experience the rhythms and melodies of traditional Irish music.

Music runs deep in the blood here, and Kilkenny is awash with sounds. From the operatic chirping of the birds at daybreak, to the pulsing vibrations of talented street musicians, it’s a city that lives and breathes music.

But it's a soundscape of a different nature that I'm here for, and at John Cleere’s Bar & Theatre, situated within the old medieval city walls, I find something quite special. Amongst friendly faces and top-notch local brews, the next few hours pass in the blink of an eye.

The music on offer is distinctively Irish, but the jigs and reels cross cultural boundaries. They strike a chord with the many nationalities that are present in this charming pub, where every nook and cranny features a curiosity of some sort.

Feet stomp, fiddles romp, and the good times roll. Thankfully, it’s a place where the atmosphere seems to matter as much as the music. The mood is mellow, but there's lots of dancing as the rhythm takes hold of both young and old.

Traditional Irish music is a full body experience: the upbeat tempos compel you to dance a jig, clap your hands and join in for one last sing-song. Kilkenny may be famous for its medieval history, but don’t miss the opportunity to discover the city that comes alive to music.

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