Saturday, July 24, 2010

When Are the Best Times to Visit Ireland to Experience Traditional Music and Dance?

Here’s some great information from our guest bloggers, Kathy and Travis Nelson. They have traveled to Ireland several times and produce the Engaging Ireland podcast, where you can find travel tips, guides to places of interest, interviews and all things Ireland. You can view their blog and listen to their podcast at, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Kathy and Travis are also amateur photographers. A sampling of their work can be found at Here’s their article about some of the most popular Irish music festivals. Enjoy! (Note: If you’d like to know how to pronounce some of the Gaelic terms in this article, go to

It’s difficult to think about Ireland without thinking about music and dance. And if you’re thinking about Irish traditional music and dance and will be making a trip to Ireland, you should schedule a fleadh or two in your itinerary. While fleadh simply means “festival,” fleadh cheoil is a festival of music.

There are many fleadhanna (the plural of fleadh) held in Ireland each year. Cavan plays host in 2010 to arguably the largest festival of the year, Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (which means “Festival of Music in Ireland”). Visit for more information about this fabulous festival, which will include not only music and dance but other art forms as well. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann are the organizers of this and many other Irish traditional music and culture events around the world. Visit their website at to learn more.

Fleadh Nua started in Dublin in 1970 but moved across the country in 1974 and is now held in Ennis each May. The Ennis fleadh events are held over one week and take place mainly in the medieval town centre. Pub sessions and céilís are an integral part of this festival, and you may encounter some well-known artists and performers as you wind your way through the narrow streets of Ennis and drift from pub to pub. If you’ll be in the West of Ireland at the end of any given May, check out the Fleadh Nua website at to see what’s on tap.

Over the May bank holiday weekend (the bank holiday is the first Monday in May), you’ll want to visit the lovely town of Abbeyfeale near the southern tip of County Limerick for the Fleadh by the Feale. This fleadh includes opportunities for storytellers to ply their craft. To learn more about the Fleadh by the Feale, visit their website at

If you’re a fan of the pipes, you’ll want to visit Armagh in November to take in the International Piping Festival (  The festival is organised by the Armagh Pipers Club and brings together traditional instruments from all over the world.

No matter what time of year you visit Ireland, be sure to check for festivals and events in the areas on your itinerary. If there are no scheduled festivals, you’re sure to find a pub session or céilí wherever the wind blows you. Slan!

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