Miltown Malbay. Who Needs Willie Week?

Miltown Malbay is my local town. It is of course legendary in the annals of traditional Irish Music as the place where thousands congregate each year to hear the best. But that’s just one week of the year. The rest of the year sessions go on with unheralded players in quiet corners playing to the locals and occasional visitors. Only occasional visitors because Miltown doesn’t have the lure of Doolin except for that one week.

I went to one of these sessions last night. About a dozen musicians were there and you would struggle to put a name to anyone. In fact for most this is their only session of the week. This was an eclectic bunch. There was one player who was hard of hearing but undaunted, struggled to play along.  We had key changes, deliberate or otherwise, in the middle of a tune, we had a singer sing a song while he played guitar in a different key, we had American tunes such as Oh Susannah, we had Johnny Cash songs and and  we had Cow Cow Yippy Yippy, we had Kevin Barry, and even an Aussie song thrown in .

Somehow none of the jarring moments mattered. It was all part of a wonderful joyous mix. There was enthusiasm, vigour and musicians and crowd were involved and supporting every effort. Of course it was noisy. The pub buzzed but the applause at the end of each number showed they were listening in that peculiar Irish way. And in amongst it all there were absolute gems. Michael Galvin and his daughters provided special moments and at the end of the night Cian  Talty delighted with songs until after 2am. This was a real hooley. It was more than a session and while the purists would probably be horrified, there was not one person who didn’t leave that pub totally satisfied.

And isn’t that what it is all about?

I didn’t have the camera so just a few photos with the phone.


Categories: Sessions, Stories, Trad Irish Music, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Miltown Malbay. Who Needs Willie Week?

  1. I used to attend the willie week every year,then i saw from an outsiders point of view that all it really was was an excuse for a pissup akin to the worst excesses of St patricks day in Dublin. Seriously over crowded in every pub,and at night it got so bad that i began to worry about my own personal safety.
    Everywhere one went in Miltown malbay in the evening there were drunks,pissing on cars,throwing up in gutters after eating the food from mobile chipper vans that were here today and gone tomorrow.
    It really inst a place i recommend to anyone to go visit,at least for more than a day!

    • Hi Martin. In some ways it is a victim of its own success and what you describe is unpleasant I agree. The same applies to a number of other festivals where lads with no interest in music invade looking for their version of the craic. I wrote a piece though after last year’s festival where I argued that despite this it is still a wonderful event. Check it out. Take care. Bob

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