Irish Trad

St. Patrick's Day is not a big deal in Ireland. True Story. I mean, I've heard that, and I believe it.

Also, another true story. It's the American Tourists (usually of some Irish descent) that do all the drinking in Ireland. Having been to Ireland, and yet never stepping foot in a pub, I can attest that there is plenty more that Ireland has to offer than green beer and whiskey.

For one, Ireland has a tremendously well developed musical tradition. To prove it, here are a few favorites:

Matt Malloy is one of the greatest flute players of the past century. He owns a Pub in Mayo where he and his mates hang out and play. Stop by sometime. The Irish flute gets its unique sound not because of the wood, but because of the tapered hollow at its center. Tests have proven that the same sound can be created with metal, plastic, even concrete as long as they get the tapered shape right. But player prefer wood all the same.

Matt Malloy was once a part of the Bothy Band, who added a little American rock and roll into the energy of their trad music. Ireland has a very strong musical identity, but it's not so conservative as to never take what works from other traditions. Music is part of a cultural and personal conversation in Ireland. I very much admire the fact that Irish musicians at their best can take from traditions anywhere yet still remain unquestioningly true to their roots.

Finally, lets talk harps. A harp in the right hands isn't just pleasant and delicate. It can rock, it can inspire, and it can enchant. Legend has it giant harps were wonce used as battlefield instruments to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. I have a hard time believing that, but maybe...

There's plenty more Ireland has going for it than booze. Take some time to listen to some music, or pick up a tale from one of the legion of great Irish writers. Ireland has so much more to offer if you dare to forget about the drinking. Have a happy St. Patrick's Day.