Posted by: mdmusingsie | January 28, 2012

Temple Bar TradFest

‘The best laid plans…’ and ‘things all seem to happen at once’ are two fitting clichés for this weekend’s activities.  Although I had planned on going to the Galway City Museum for the concert, at the time I had forgotten that TradFest in Dublin was this weekend as well.

Technically, I could have done both, but the Sean-nós workshops at TradFest  that I wanted to attend were on Saturday, so I traded in the one hour at the museum for a day-long feast, as it were. Image

As the name implies, it’s a festival for traditional Irish music and dance with activities and concerts throughout the Temple Bar area of Dublin.  You may wonder why it’s held at this time of year and not during the summer when the weather is nicer and the days longer.  I don’t know for certain, but suspect it’s because people need a pick-me-up after the holidays have passed by and there isn’t much to look forward to until the weather does turn.

I’m sure they’ve had their share of rainy days over the years, but although the day was dull, as they tend to refer to the overcast days, it was rain free, at least in Dublin, and Temple Bar was hopping with festival goers.  (It was raining when I set out from Galway and raining when I returned, but at least the festival had a dry day.)

The workshop I attended was at Gaelchultúr where they hold regular Irish language and sean-nós dance classes.  If I couldn’t be in Portland, OR this year for the Sean-nós Northwest festival (next month), at least I could have a similar taste here in Ireland.   There was a one hour sean-nós singing class followed by a one hour dance class.  The singing class was taught by Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaoich (auntie of Cormac of the Tunes in the Church fame).  Most of the songs were in Irish and I did actually know one of them.  It wasn’t totally a-capella, we listened to the tunes on CD first, which included musical accompaniment, to get them in our heads before attempting them ourselves.

While not my first sean-nós singing class, it was my first sean-nós dance class. The instructor was a young woman named Mary-Beth Taylor who’s actually from Atlanta, GA, but who has been living in Ireland for the last 10 years.  I’d done some céilí dancing in Portland, but never got around to the sean-nós variety.  Just like céilí dancing, it is a workout.  It uses tap-dance like steps, and although people say things like, if you hadn’t ridden a bike for years, it comes back to you quickly once you start again, I’m afraid my tap dance days were too far into my ancient history to bubble their way to the surface.   I didn’t do terribly, but I’ll definitely need more practice, not unlike the first few céilí classes I took where I felt like I had two left feet, but ended up picking things up fairly quickly.

There are plenty of concerts from top named performers, but I went the budget route, except for the workshop, which was actually very reasonable, and walked around to attend the free events.  There was a cute music, puppet, slapstick comedy show by The Chancy Brothers at the Buskers Stage. Other free venues had plenty of Irish dance performances from the young beginners to the experienced professionals, as well as an abundance of traditional music to sample.

Time just seemed to fly by and too soon it was time to board the bus back to Galway.  If you’re in Ireland this time of year and need a great pick-me-up, check out this festival.  A great craic, whether you spend a few hours or a few days sampling the events and venues.



  1. […] had to look back at the 2012 and 2013 posts I had for Temple Bar Trad Fest to see if my memories of the festival matched […]

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