Music In Ireland – 1st Draft (still rough and very unfinished)

Ireland has always been seen by the world as small country associated with Terrorism, Drink and Music. When you think about it, the I.R.A., Guinness and U2 have been this countries most synonymous synonymous synonymous gifts to the world. For years, up and down the country these three aspects of Irish life have been prominent. The image of small rural pubs, with raging fires, a trad band in the corner and hordes of locals coming together to drink and sing along have been the stamps of our country. However, unlike like most stereotypical images of countries around the world, this image has been quite alive in our villages, towns and cities for hundreds of years.

When you look at old news footage in shows live ‘Reeling in the Years’ and old pictures in local halls, pubs and houses, you can clearly see this was not some idealised image of Ireland, but was a part of everyday life.

Over the years, various means and economic changes have broken this trend in most parts of the countries. Improved Education, Free College for all citizens, increased support for rural towns, villages, and underprivileged member’s of society have all helped Irish people move out of a purely rural based mind set into a new age for the country, an economic boom. Other contributing factors can be linked to the Smoking Ban, the increase in prices of Alcohol and cigarettes and also the vast improvement in Garda patrols on our streets and more so, our roads. Indeed, Drink related accidents, illnesses and fatalities have dropped considerably over the years, as have the unemployment rates, illiteracy rates and …so on.

This is all great news for the country and the direction it’s headed, but what of the old traditions? Are they to fall into their own memories and become less well known as the people who experienced this Ireland pass away around us? Could drinking in the pub and great music become a part of old Ireland? Looking around city centres and local towns, it doesn’t seem likely that weekend drinking is under and threat just yet. But what of our great tradition of music, what has become of it? Along with Bono and U2, Irish bands such has Thin Lizzy, Therapy, The Undertones, the Boom Town Rats, Planxty, and performers such as Enya, Christy Moore, Chris De Burg, Van Morison have entertained the world for decades, along with countless others like Sinead O’Connor, The Dubliners, Paul Brady and more.

So why haven’t many of the newer generation Irish performers measured up to this success enjoyed by their predecessors. Why doesn’t Ireland have any more Bono’s, Phil Lynotts or Enya’s on the international scene? Westlife, Boyzone and Damien Rice seem to have been the biggest musical exports Irish music has enjoyed in the last ten years. No one else has seemed to last. We see countless performers trying every year on ‘Your A Star’, competing for Europe’s largest song contest, but we never hear of them before or after that in most cases which makes it very difficult to take any of these people as serious performers. But, should we take this as an indication of what Irish people like these days? The answer is sadly, yes.

Irish people have shown more and more in recent years that their music taste has followed that of the British and attention has switched from true musicians, groups and performers, who tour and record relentlessly, to manufactured reality TV flavours of the month. In years to come it will be hard to imagine people talking about ‘Six’ and ‘U2’ in the same context.

So what of the Irish music scene!, is that the end, are their no true musicians left to carry on one of the finest traditions this country has to offer? Off course there are, you just don’t see or hear them very often. Despite efforts of DJ’s such as Jenny Huston and Tom Dunne and VJ’s such as Dave Fanning and Leagues O’Toole, Irish National Broadcasters gives little or no exposure to the true talent of our current scene. Instead on endorsing Hard Working Bands like The Frames, Turn, Bell X1, The Future Kings of Spain, Jape, Humanzi, and countless others, they decide to promote flash in the pan, once off artist’s like ‘Six’, ‘Samantha Mumba’ and parades of similar English and American thrash that is destroying the minds both on Radio and Television.

The new millennium has seen such a rise in reality TV that it went from being everywhere to just being standard. Shows like the ‘Real O.C.’,’Sweet 16’ and what ever other rubbish MTV manage to think up to replace another 30 minutes of music, have broken so far into our culture that people under the age of 16 all seem to have American accents. Next time your on the dart, train or bus, listen to them. As for musical tastes, well MTV and all the reality crap have ensured that it is now very hard for a band that has formed themselves and written their own material to get any decent support or Airplay. Along with our national stations doing as little as possible to ratify or challenge this (for fear of other stations getting the ratings), it casts a very bleak out look for the future of our scene.

Another view I saw, while discussing some Irish groups with a French man I work with was the price and availability of Irish music. He discussed trying to buy albums from Humanzi, Turn, The Frames, Bell X1 and more and the price of these releases. I will say that the price of these albums isn’t above average or anything but when you come to a country and want to discover some of the local scene, your hardly going to shell out E100 for four albums you haven’t heard.

It will be a very sad day if the countless Irish musicians out there, writing amazing material, or forced to leave Ireland to gain some sort of recognition, or even if they remain to become another ‘Stunning’.




One Response to “Music In Ireland – 1st Draft (still rough and very unfinished)”

  1. any one interested can download the dublin castle – camden Concerto For Constantine gig at:

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