Traditional Irish music, or “trad” as the locals call it, is one of those things of which one must partake in order to have the full experience of Irish culture.
Having spent well over a month in Ireland, you would think I’d have made it out to at least one “session” in all that time. I’d been to several gigs of other genres of music, and at one point I was staying down the street from The Cobblestone in Dublin’s Smithfield district where I was told by several locals that they have the best, non-touristy trad sessions. But no, it hadn’t happened yet by the time I made it to Limerick and my time in Ireland was drawing to a close.
One of the lovely things about organized tours is that they are full of surprises. This can sometimes be a downside when you are roped into spending time on something that doesn’t hold your interest, but the serendipitous, comfort-zone-pushing surprises far outweigh any occasional pitfalls.
Something I wouldn’t normally have chosen to include in my itinerary is a tour of the University of Limerick, but our hosts wanted to show us their globally renowned sporting facilities and other claims to fame. As we were making our way from the auditorium to the gymnasium, imagine my delight as we were treated to a “surprise” (it was totally staged for our benefit) trad session in the corridor.
Besides their reputation for programs in athletics, sports medicine, and engineering, another popular field of study at the University of Limerick is their degree in Traditional Irish Music. In truth, very few of the musicians in this photo are indeed Irish. The music program attracts international students from far and wide. The performers may not have been Irish, but the music certainly was.
Disclosure and acknowledgements: I visited Limerick alongside other members of the travel media on a press tour organized by Failte Ireland. Many thanks to our hosts at the University of Limerick for our eye-opening campus tour and to our inimitable guide Tony for keeping us on track.