Travel Theme: Tradition

When I was in Ireland I thought, here I am, among my people.  My father’s family is Irish on his mother’s side; my roots and, apparently, some distant family, are in Cork, though I didn’t know about my kin in the motherland until after I’d returned home from my trip.  Another story for another day.  Anyway.

So, Ireland.  Where I seemed designed to fit.  Where my skin and hair drank in the relatively non-humid days and cool weather.  Where I already knew about Irish tradition and wanted to see the places where those traditions were held most strongly.  We traveled to the Aran Islands and listened to the locals speak Irish in the pubs.  We visited very small churches (note the lack of a roof, from the traditional thatch having fallen away)

Though it’s not the smallest church, it’s still pretty tiny.  And that cow was cranky.

And hiked up towards Dun Aengus, an Iron Age fort and important archaeological site…

It’s the black hump rising out of the horizon line.

…BUT!  We came up at the fort from the far side of the field it’s on and would have had to pick our way over a dreadfully uneven landscape, at the top of a cliff…

North Atlantic, meet the world. World, North Atlantic.

…with a wind that was blowing…I hesitate to guess the speed but it was constant and fast enough that we had to lean in to make forward progress, hair standing straight up, while my denim jacket kept catching the wind like it was a big canvas sail.  At the top of a cliff.

Did I mention it started raining?

So that was the closest we got to the cliff that day and, after our (slippery, and unfortunately slow) descent, decided the best approach for the rest of the evening would be to go to a pub, get some dinner, and have a cocktail.  What’s the best place in town for music, we asked, and a patron at the pub we were in directed us to Joe Watty’s…turns out said patron was the bartender on duty at Joe Watty’s that night, so it was fun to see a familiar face once we got there.  So OK, great times ahead!  In the Gaeltacht, the traditional repository of Irish culture, we were sure to hear some real, down-home, deedly-dee music, right?

Yeeeee. Haw.

Only the band playing that night was a country-western band.  My initial thought was, “I didn’t move from Texas to fly to Ireland to hear country music,” though apparently, I was wrong because it seems that was exactly what I did.  And these guys?  ROCKED.  I only wish I could remember what they called themselves.  The lead guitar was all done on keyboard, they had boots and big hats and spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle.  And let me repeat myself: they ROCKED.  So while the music might not have technically been traditional, the craic was in full swing and the dancing didn’t stop, and isn’t that what a night in an Irish pub in the middle of the North Atlantic is, traditionally, all about?

Read more of Ailsa’s travel theme and the other traditions people have observed, here.

8 responses to Travel Theme: Tradition

    • beyondpaisley – Author

      Thanks! You’re too kind. I just remember thinking, what the..? Hats? Boots? Keyboards? But you know…you just go with it and the good times emerge.


  1. Seán Ó Diolún

    So you thought you knew about Irish culture but you didn’t know how popular country music is over here? Your expectations are like if I walked into a bar in massachusetts and expected to hear sacred harp singing. The world moves on. Americans’ ideas of other nations apparently doesn’t…


    • beyondpaisley – Author

      Every day is for learning. And get over yourself. No, I didn’t realize how popular country music was. It’s OK, I learned, accepted, dug it, danced. But you’re the one painting all Americans with the clod brush because I didn’t know one thing. So. I say again, get over yourself and think next time before you pull out the douchenozzle on someone who might not know every aspect of another country they’re visiting.


  2. Oh this made me laugh out loud, beyondpaisley, I love that you travelled all the way to the Aran Islands to listen to country & western. Wonderful story and great photos – that one of the Atlantic is my favourite! xxx


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