I’ve stayed on an extra few days in Doolin, the surf is good and the music second to none. Most nights I have a tune in O Connor’s Pub, the only pub left in Doolin that has truly spontaneous sessions, with different musicians every night.
The tradition of the session is the huge strength of Irish traditional music. Essentially, two or three local musicians are paid a few bob to play a few tunes in the local pub on a certain night, without rehearsal or amplification. Because it’s spontaneous, visiting musicians can join in if they know enough of the repretoire. In this way, visiting musicians get exposed to Clare tunes and styles, while the local players get to hear music from all over the world. It’s a wonderful tradition to observe or participate in.
Late night jamming in O’ Connors
Sadly, a great many pubs have now gone the route of ‘gigs': employing one or two musicians to play a rehearsed show using mikes. This ensures a certain standard every night, but effectively prohibits visiting musicians from joining in. Even in Doolin, there is really only one pub left where one can join in and have a relaxing evening with tunes, songs, jokes and stories. As for the tourists, I’m pretty sure from their reaction they can tell the difference between the rehearsed and the contrived..