Today I tapped my toes, clapped my hands, sang, laughed and listened to traditional music of Ireland: the makings of American hillbilly sound. It was a fun afternoon, and was a nice retreat from earlier in the day when I suddenly got caught in a rain storm that soaked through my clothes. I was inside the Brazen Head Inn where six men entertained a pub stuffed with people. Beer was generously flowing between the audience and the musicians.
I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in the 1100s, sitting inside the oldest pub in Ireland, built in 1198. The men played traditional musical instruments and sang, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes bawdy ballads. Every song had a story.
There were two drummers, one used his hand to beat out the rhythm on the drum skin, while another innovated a rhythm section by strumming with brushes on the wooden box he sat on. Other men played an accordion, another an electric violin, two guitars and a spoon player. All of the men took turns singing. The spoon player/singer’s voice was so good, he could stand in for an Irish Tenor. Their expressions while playing the songs showed the love of their culture and the hardships the Irish faced throughout the years. The bawdy songs were so spirited it made them sweat.
One man from Ireland, Kevin McHugh, sat in on one number, singing and playing his guitar, his foot hit the beat with his leg flying way up off the floor. I met and spoke with some of the people in the pub; they were local and some from the states and a couple from England.
I thought listening to traditional Irish music was one way to learn about the Irish culture, but dinner would be another way. So I searched the area known as Temple Bar. On this street, a person could find food from every culture on the planet, it seems, but I wanted a typical Irish meal.
I found one by asking a lot of questions as I passed Italian, Persian and Indian, pizza, hot dog stands, and other restaurants and many Pubs, in the land of Pubs. I ended up having a dish of grilled vegetables and mash. Mash was mashed potatoes over meat and gravy in a casserole dish and then baked.