The Art of Good Craic

The Oliver St. John Gogarty

Most of us are wary of strangers. We avoid speaking to people whom we do not know, a lesson taught and learned early in life.  While abroad we attempt to stay street savvy and wise while longing to meet people from the places we visit. We experience an internal conflict while traveling, our mother’s adages ringing in our ears: “don’t talk to strangers!”

This advice is best ignored in Dublin; a city which guidebooks will tell you time after time has some of the friendliest and most conversational locals. It is easy to feel instantly at home here. A country of traditions and customs that still live on today, spending time in the capital is akin to the comfort of a home-cooked meal or sitting by a roaring fire. Dubliners enjoy good craic, or conversation and will gladly engage with travelers. The best way to get to know them is by visiting a pub and enjoying traditional Irish music.

Music culture in Ireland is as steady as the toe tapping of merry pub patrons and dates as far back as the 900s. Irish music can range from ballads, dance music, and drinking songs. Musicians normally include a fiddler, a flautist, guitarist, and a drummer. Relaxed sessions allow musicians to express their creativity and play off one another, often producing a mix of genres and melding old styles with new.

In the Temple Bar area of Dublin there are a number of bars that feature musicians playing jigs well into the night. Most of the songs are interactive, encouraging call and response and plenty of dancing. There is nothing like the experience of drinking a pint in an inviting pub, watching musicians deftly strum their instruments and take sips of Guinness simultaneously. Treat the musicians to a round if you particularly enjoy the session; after the first few jigs you’ve become a local.

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