History, Family, and Music

Music, history, and family seem to be the three things that hold the tight knit communities of rural Ireland together. Everyone we meet seems to passionately know the history of not only Ireland but of where they live specifically, and everywhere you go there is music, especially in local pubs at night. It seems to bring the community together and create a friendly and outgoing atmosphere. During our visit to Cnoc Suain Dearbhaill told us how the traditional music of Ireland passed on from family as a way of storytelling was fading away and an effort was made to bring it back to children that has been extremely successful. The next night in the Spiddal hotel during our music workshop the couple who was playing for us said a something similar about people forming groups to get more people into playing traditional Irish instruments. It shows how important music is to the Irish culture, especially among families and from generation to generation. Luckily these efforts have been successful and I have not gone into a pub in Ireland yet that didn’t have some sort of live music, usually played by a small group, just for fun.

Penny Whistle at Cnoc Suain

Cnoc Suain is a cultural center in Conamara focusing on history, culture, nature, and music that Dearbhaill described to us as “an inspiration for the future”. Families in Ireland seem to be very close and the family in general very important. At Cnoc Suain we learned of how many daughters would emigrate to the United States in order to support their family and while 95% did not return they would continue to send their family money and supplies, demonstrating how strong family bonds are in this country. 

Everyone in Ireland seems to care about the history of Ireland and wants to share it with others. “What you have to remember is that this country was occupied for 800 years” said Des, a national tour guide. Many other people have emphasized this same point about how the country has not always been free and independent and this seems to have had a large impact on the people and their communities and ways of life. History is very important to Irish people and how it has been traditionally passed down through music and stories is just as important and keeps communities and families tightly knit in the rural areas. 

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