Be the diddley-aye potato, standing in Dann’s on this damp January night, it was easy to feel transported to another world.
The 10-strong army of Tuesday night trad musicians were working their way through another bittersweet jig – or was it a reel? – that began to feel as though it may go on forever and ever…
The lights were low enough to make everything and everyone look as though they had been carved from oak, and two German girls were chatting loudly over it all, oblivious to the open-hearted low whistle that was delivering its haunting, defiant melody.
Bejaysus, for a minute there, I thought I was in Kenmare.
Having started life 15 years ago in Dann’s pub, this long-running Tuesday night open session has become something of a beggars banquet, as a cast of regular musicians each bring a little of their own spices and herbs to the table.
As the night progresses, different musicians arrive, and the music suddenly takes a left turn, down through the Ring of Kerry, before detouring back up through the Burren before a quick trip over to Nashville.
“We’re open to everyone and anything,” says Hughie Browne, the man with the whip, and the keeper of the flame for all these years. “It’s what makes it interesting not only for those listening but, perhaps more importantly, for us. We’re not here to play the same old songs week after week, like a jaded wedding band. We’re out to find something new each week…”
And with so many singers, pipers, banjo players, guitarists, accordian torturers and bodhran botherers turning up each week, it’s easy to see how a song might never remain the same.
We managed to drag Hughie away from the music and the ridiculously low lighting (“One of the musicians has trouble with her eyes, so, we just keep the lights low all the time”), and spoke outside Dann’s about the history of the town’s longest-running trad session before venturing back in for a little of what you fancy…
Find out more about Dann’s Tuesday night session by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out about Dann’s Thursday night sessions right here.