Blog by UCC Ambassador Austin Gould
There is no shortage of awesome music in Ireland and I wanted to make sure I immersed myself in it as much as possible during my time abroad. I took an Irish music class that helped me gain a wider perspective on modern Irish music, traditional Irish music, and how the two overlap. I went to various traditional music concerts (or “trad” concerts), which often casually took place in the corner of a pub. I remember a festival that took place in the middle of Cork with live trad and tons of people dancing, and a boy on the side of a road in Galway playing a mean banjo. I really enjoyed this aspect of Irish culture throughout my time abroad.
While I mostly play guitar, I only brought my mandolin to Ireland in an attempt to get better at it. I figured that I would be forced to practice mandolin since I wouldn’t have my guitar to use as a crutch when practicing was difficult. Inspired by Ireland and its musical culture, I decided it was a good time for me to step out of my shell and play some live music myself. My first attempt came in the form of busking, or playing on the side of the road. I feel like this is much less common in America, and you usually need a permit to do it, but in Ireland there were people busking all over the place. So one day I grabbed my mandolin, walked into town, opened my case, and played on the sidewalk for about 20 minutes. I made about 3 euro, so I figured it was a pretty good use of my time.
My second two times stepping out of my shell came in the form of open mic nights at a pub called The Oliver Plunkett. I remember being very nervous since I had never really played my own music for a live audience before. I rehearsed quite a bit before my first time playing. I was lucky that I had a really good group of friends because they came out and supported me. Even if I flopped, I knew I’d a have a group of people cheering me on. We all ended up making a few nights out of it. We would walk down to the pub, have a couple pints, and just listen to all the talented musicians. I got a free pint every time I performed, which felt pretty cool. All in all, Ireland taught me to step out of my shell and not be afraid to send music into the airwaves.
Check out these videos of my Open Mic Nights at The Oliver Plunkett!