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Pre-Trip Homework

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Update: 20-May 2016

This blog is for those who believe trip preparation is as much fun as the trip. The subject is not about putting together an itinerary, hopefully my other blogs and travel websites help with that. I've assembled a list of things to better prepare you for the Culture and History of Ireland. In other words, this is your pre-trip World Cultures and History Class homework... But this will be much more fun than when you were in Middle School (6th class)!

I will now add the usual disclaimer: This is my opinion and is colored by my preferences. I'm assuming the average visitor is visiting Ireland to see the scenery, experience the culture, and learn a little history. I can't really help with preparation for the scenery other than to say bring good walking shoes and a good rain jacket, but I can help prepare for immersion into the culture and history of Ireland.

Additional disclaimer: The homework language and subject content is a little PG-13…. since Ireland is a little (or a lot) PG-13.

MUSIC

Music is everywhere in Ireland, and you should be able to experience it every evening if you want. Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons are very popular for Trad Sessions (a blog all about Trad Sessions later) but you will find them all week in the larger cities. Below is a sampler of some of the music you will hear in pubs. In addition, you may end up with a cover band doing American music... usually pretty good, but not why you came to Ireland.

The first recommendation is the Dubliners singing "The Fields of Athenry" (Athenry is where we live)

For some strange reason the sports fans sing The Fields of Athenry at the end of (and during) sporting matches ... especially when they are losing as in this video.

A Second song that you will hear often is "Galway Girl", a very popular song in Galway County and in particular Galway city.

This link is closer to the version one hears in a pub ... since the show isn't over until the band has played Galway Girl. Some would call this encore ... "wishful thinking" 😉

Delores Keane is sometimes called the Voice of Ireland. One of her famous songs is "Caledonia". Caledonia is a term the Romans used to refer to Scotland and the song (at least to me) is all about immigration. Delores Keane has been prolific. You can find most of her releases on iTunes.

Here are a couple more to enjoy:

Black Velvet Band ... things can be complicated in Ireland

And here are a couple of Irish jigs that you might hear in a Trad Session at a pub:

This is an Irish Reel that would also be played in a Trad Session, see if you can tell the difference... if you can, you're doing better than me. Here's another one that is one of my favorites.

See if you can find some examples of more modern Irish performers including Christy Moore, Glen Hansard, Van Morrison, and U2 (and Bono).

SPORTS

The Irish are very much into sports as participants, spectators, and punters(gamblers). The Gaelic sports are the most popular, followed by Rugby and European Football (soccer).

The Gaelic sports consists of Hurling, Gaelic Football, and Handball. Hurling and Gaelic Football are the most popular. The fanaticism is similar to Texas High School football. For example, you may show up to a small village on a Sunday afternoon and find it deserted ... and then you'll hear a crowd roaring just outside the village at the local GAA(Gaelic Athletic Association) pitch (field).

Here are a few links that give a little overview of Hurling and Gaelic Football, the two most popular Gaelic Sports