If you’re in Northern Ireland for any length of time, you’ll soon become familiar with the concept of a ‘session’.
A session happens when musicians gather in pubs all over the country to play traditional reels and jigs. They are largely unrehearsed and can happen spontaneously if two or more musicians happen to be in the same pub. Traditional sessions happen all over the country from little rural pubs to city centre venues.
Did You Know?
It is believed that Irish traditional music developed in medieval times. The aristocracy were patrons of Irish harpists up to the 17th century, collecting and recording their traditional tunes at regular harp festivals. The music developed over the years and took influence from other cultures. A revival of interest in the genre occurred during the early 20th century, and ceilidhs became the most popular way to spend Saturday nights.
People We Are Proud Of
- Perhaps the best known traditional musician from Northern Ireland is Derek Bell, from The Chieftans. An afficionado of the Irish harp, he played with the band until his death in 2002.
- Paul Brady is another of Northern Ireland’s folk heroes. He played with trad band The Johnstons, before joining the much-loved Planxty in 1974. Known as a great interpreter of Irish songs, he embarked on a solo career in 1978, and became established as a world-class songwriter. His songs have been covered by the likes of Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, and Bob Dylan.
- Dungiven born, Cara Dillon, is a multi-award winning singer who found fame with her modern interpretations of traditional Irish songs. The influence of Irish music can be heard in the modern sound of The Corrs, U2, Hothouse Flowers, and The Pogues.