Monday, March 17, 2014

How to get some real (reel?) Irish culture on St. Patrick's day

To culture or not to culture

Me playing Irish music in Ireland in 2008

There was a blog post on NPR today about the many common misconceptions about what is traditionally Irish—the Irish don't dye their food green, and in Ireland cows were mostly used for milk until the beef-loving British colonized the island (and tried to wipe out their language, culture, and royalty—and pretty much succeeded).

In my opinion, St. Patrick's day shouldn't be about drinking beer, wearing green, and eating green things, but celebrating rich culture. The best way to celebrate culture is to experience it. I had a friend who went to Ireland this past week, which made me think of my own too-short trip. I'd love to go back and drive along the west coast, stopping to hear music on the way.

If you can't join 'em, listen to 'em!

But since a return trip to Ireland isn't in my plans anytime soon (as it isn't for most Americans), music is one of the best ways to bring Ireland to me. I've posted a few things in the past about Irish music: a couple of weeks ago, I posted about Solas's new album Shamrock City, and in March 2013, I suggested four great Irish groups to listen to. Today I'm suggesting two radio programs that feature Irish and Celtic music:

  1. The Thistle and the Shamrock with Fiona Richie. This weekly NPR show features the music of both Scotland and Ireland, and is actually produced out of Charlotte, NC. Why North Carolina, you ask? Well, is was one of the centers of Irish and Scotch-Irish immigration to the U..S. You can check if the program airs in your area on the site. One problem with the show, however, is that it usually airs at some horrible time, like Saturday at 7pm, when most people (including me) have other things planned. Also, the podcast is only short segments of the show that come out every six months or so. But you can stream current episodes.
  2. Ceol na nGael. It's a weeky New York-based Irish culture show that is broadcast from Fordham University. It airs Sundays from 12-4pm, and besides music, it features sports and Irish news. And since most of you are not in the broadcast area, you can also stream current and recent episodes online.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! And to leave on a high note:

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