Posts Tagged With: pub

Music Today 3pm.

This is a little story of a hidden Ireland. It’s not really hidden you just have to take the blinkers off every now and then and follow your nose. Sorry about the mixed metaphor.
I spend quite a bit of my time in County Clare just driving around some of my favourite places, the Burren, the coast around Spanish Point, the hills behind Doolin. Just looking. I love to head down a boreen I’ve never been or follow a hunch in the hope of finding something new.
As I was doing just this on a wet and not terribly inviting midweek day in July, I drove past the beautiful Kilshanny House just outside Ennistymon. A sign caught my eye. Music Today 3pm.   How could I drive past that. I always have the fiddle with me. I live in hope.

I have been here many times. I know host Mary Butler and it is a great venue for a session though these day they happen rarely.   But this was really unusual.  Of course I went in. Mary explained that she was having a busload of visitors, from New York as it happened, and she was putting on a meal and entertainment, She was happy for me to stay and even to put up with me taking a few photos.


The coach arrives

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, As the bus pulled up driven by the irascible Gerry, the visitors entered Mary’s wonderful stone-walled and comfortable space, lined with books, ephemera and priceless reminders of Irish culture, heritage and especially music. And speaking of music They were greeted by fiddles and piano and songs provided by two Clare musicians of the highest quality, Sharon Howley who plays with the Kilfenora Ceili Band, probably the most famous Ceili Band in the world, and Therese McInerney, who has just released a cd.


Clare musicians, Therese McInerney and Sharon Howley



I watched as the guests took their seats and feasted on Mary’s wonderful food, home made Irish bread and a choice this day of fillet of salmon or loin of pork, fuelled by liberal supplies of Guinness and wine.




Host Mary Butler serves home made bread.  


Your salmon sir.


Or the pork




Dinner in the library


Gerry, ever the perfect host turned out to be a great singer and he cajoled other singers from the floor including yours truly.  I well and truly gate crashed the party and joined the musicians for a few tunes with my fiddle. Now that was fun.



The multi talented Gerry.  Bus driver, singer and raconteur






This is Ireland. An afternoon of pure music, food and good company that came out of nowhere. These tourists, who lingered over the meal for three hours, went away very happy and I am sure many will be back.

Music Today 3pm.



Categories: My Journey, Real Ireland, Stories, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

McArthur’s Bar Tulla

I mentioned McArthur’s Bar in my recent blog on Tulla. I want to say a few more words on it. This place deserved to be in the late Peter McCarthy’s wonderful book McCarthy’s Bar even though he would have had to stretch the qualifications a bit (If you haven’t read this book it is a must; it is one of the best travel books written on Ireland). I saw the pub during the day and it looked to be just another abandoned building. A peek through the window failed to see any sign of life or even recent use and the weeds growing behind the front window did not look promising. But walking past it at midnight there was a glow of lights through the drawn shades and blurry shadows through the frosted window pane.  And the door was just slightly ajar. A familiar murmur came from behind the door.  The quiet hum you get from a pub pretending to be shut. I went through the door into the narrowest of rooms and it was jam-packed. With my fiddle on my back I could hardly squeeze through the door and then past the throng. I could hear music and I stood there momentarily until someone seeing my fiddle nodded his head towards the back saying “it’s in there”. I made my way through another narrow door into another crowded room. I couldn’t help but notice the floor as I walked up a distinct concrete slope. One can only imagine this being a huge advantage when they hose it out at the end of the day.

The music was getting louder as I reached the back room. It was coming from a bunch of kids most of whom looked under 15. By now it was midnight.  Their parents were watching and lemonades in hand they were producing magic music. I felt like an intruder but was invited to sit in. It was as good a session as any I had been to in Ireland.

This experience showed to me a window into the ‘real’ Ireland. A country that has gone through centuries of struggle and subjugation, indeed attempts to eliminate the Irish music and language, was here thumbing its collective nose at petty authority that says children can’t be in a pub after 9pm. Wonderful.

I said in an earlier post that one needs to “go with the flow” in Ireland. After this experience I should add “if you see an open door go through it”.



McArthur’s Bar in Tulla


McArthur’s Bar in Tulla at Midnight.


Categories: Sessions, Stories, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at