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On the Irish musical trail

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FOR A FULL HOUSE: The French-Quebecois Genticorum performs at the Temple Bar Trad Fest.
FOR A FULL HOUSE: The French-Quebecois Genticorum performs at the Temple Bar Trad Fest.

KRISHNARAJ IYENGAR

Dublin offers much more than an eclectic musical experience as an Indian classical musician discovers a subtle, yet intriguing, connection with Indian music.

Musicians lead the crowd from pub to pub, performing and narrating tales from folklore

It’s every musician’s dream… chilly Irish winter, cobbled pathways with strutting stilettos in stylish black, the warmth of a quaint Irish pub with generous pints of Guinness, sumptuous cheese tarts and traditional ‘manna for the soul’ music! I was in Dublin, the magnificent Irish capital this winter, with my tabla!

I have always been emotional about Ireland and its pure, unpretentious and soul-stirring melodies. These old classics still charm listeners at traditional Irish pubs where musicians gather for evening sessions with their Uilleann Pipes, Fiddles, Irish Whistles (flute) and the formidable Bodhran drum.

Outstanding music

I finally realised my dream of performing with Irish musicians and, considering that our musical forms are astoundingly similar through age-old ties, there was the spark of an instant chemistry between us !

Dublin is also the musical capital of Ireland and its Temple Bar area is the hub for traditional pubs and music. Named after Temple, a wealthy Irishman, Temple Bar undoubtedly has some of the finest pubs that play some outstanding Irish music attracting hoards of international tourists round the year.

The famous Pub Crawl at Temple Bar, for instance, is a journey into Ireland’s intriguing musical ethos, with musicians leading the crowd from pub to pub, performing and narrating tales from Irish folklore packed with humour and Guinness flowing with each mellifluous note!

Although a teetotaller, I was more intoxicated by the mysticism in the music than most Guinness guzzlers would’ve been. As the great Persian mystic Rumi wrote, “Mard e khoda mast bovad bi-sharab” (The man of God is drunk without wine!).

At one such Pub Crawl, noted musicians Mark and Eugene enthralled a pub packed with passionate music lovers with an anecdote of how the scarcity of beer in Cork near Dublin, led two men to drive down to Devon in England and return with cider in whiskey barrels!

The highly potent mixture was christened ‘Johnny Jump Up’ and so they sing in their rustic twang “Oh never, Oh never, Oh never again, if I live to be a 100 or a 110, I fiell to the ‘greoond’ n ey couldn’t get up, after drinkin’ a quart of the Johnny Joomp Up!”

What’s more, the Temple Bar Trad Fest held this January at some of the most sought after venues like The Button Factory and The Project Arts Center in Temple Bar had icons like violinist Michael Mcgoldrick, vocalists Moya Brennan and Tommy O’Sullivan, piper Paddy Keenan and acclaimed groups like the Irish-American Solas and the French-Quebecois Genticorum performing for a full house on all evenings. This was one of Ireland’s most esteemed musical events.

Known for its compactness, Dublin offers much more than an eclectic musical experience. Skirting around the city on foot is preferred by most, and despite the bitterly cold and wet winters, one yearns to discover Dublin’s sights and sounds.

The Trinity College, one of the world’s first major universities and the first to enrol female students, is a haven for students from different nationalities with almost 16,000 books on varied subjects and the largest library room in the world that also contains the legendary Book of Kells, which speaks about the early Irish Christian life and has the four Gospels. The Irish Museum of Modern Art, the formidable Dublin Castle and the Dov Lin or ‘Black Pool’ (from which Dublin derives its name), the Ha’Penney bridge built over the Liffey, Stephens Green, The Old Jameson distillery, The Guinness Old Store House brewery, the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral of Ireland’s patron saint and Grafton Street and Collins Street form Dublin’s kaleidoscope.

Magnetic warmth

Unlike any other city I have seen, there is a magnetic warmth about Dublin that draws you deeper into the realms of its ancient history, culture and music. Cheerful despite their historic scars, Dubliners are known for their zest and love for life. Seldom do we hear tales of racism and bigotry from those who have visited Ireland. Like courting lovers, the enigma unfolds each time one walks down Dublin’s charismatic balustrades!


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