Pining for a good old session?
Kicking back in a cosy pub as a musician tunes up the fiddle is up there with getting the shift in the Gaeltacht as one of the best experiences you can have in Ireland.
In Cork there’s a trad session around almost every corner, every single night of the week, all year ’round.
While the times are usually set in stone (and have been for years), the magic of a trad session is that when it gets going, anything could happen; the old fella drinking Beamish might give a blast of a sean nós song; an American might try a River Dance; Maura behind the bar might play the spoons… it’s all part of the magic.
Here are eight of the greatest regular trad sessions on Leeside:
Charlie’s on Union Quay is home to one of the longest-running traditional music sessions in the city. Drop by any Sunday at 3pm for The Lee Sessions, hosted by Cork’s own Sean O’Driscoll, banjo player and button accordion, along with his wife Mary O’Driscoll on the fiddle. Each Sunday features a different guest musician.
2. SIN É
At Sin É, the legendary trad sessions have not slept since the 1970s. You never know who you’ll run into – even Sting dropped by the Coburg Street bar for a sing-song when he played Cork in 2013. You can expect musicians to be tuning up every night from 6.30pm, seven nights a week.
3. THE OLD OAK
This Oliver Plunkett Street stalwart hosts weekly Trad on Tuesdays, hosted by members of UCC Trad Soc. Players are welcome so drop in any Tuesday before 9pm to join in.
4. TOM BARRY’S
Nab a seat in Tom Barry’s front bar on Barrack Street every Sunday evening for pizza, a pint and a trad session from 7pm-9pm weekly.
5. THE WELCOME INN
One of the oldest traditional pubs in Cork, The Welcome Inn on Parnell Place has been opening its doors to thirsty locals since 1845. As an early house it opens daily at 7am but you can catch the weekly trad session on Wednesday nights at 9.30pm.
6. THE OLD TOWN WHISKEY BAR
Starting on March 10th, The Old Town Whiskey Bar at the Bodega on Cornmarket Street hosts twice daily traditional Irish music sessions, one at lunchtime and another in the evening.
7. THE FRANCISCAN WELL
Head across the bridge to the North Mall for a weekly Tuesday trad session in Cork’s busiest micro-brewery. The regular fixture starts at 8.30pm and promises a mix of jigs and reels and great Irish songs in both Irish and English.
Stroll past O’sho at the city end of Barrack Street and you’ll hear trad drifting from the front windows every Saturday at 6pm. They have an interesting selection of teas if you’re abstaining, but the cocktails are top-notch too. You can even order a takeaway from Miyazaki across the road to enjoy while you listen.