Are you're touring the Wild Atlantic Way and looking for a local music session? Or just in the area visiting and you want to know where the local musicians are playing. Here's some top tips on where to find some of the best Irish music sessions in the Gaeltacht region (Irish speaking). Let me know of others so I can add them to this list. If you combine these sessions with our amazing walks and mountains, this is a holiday in itself!
I Love Donegal, there's something for everyone, you just need a bit of insider knowledge.
The places I've named are scattered around West Donegal, the Gaeltacht region (Irish Speaking) and in particular the town lands of Gaoth Dobhair/Gweedore, Na Rosann/The Rosses and Cloch Cheann Fhaola/Cloghaneely. Visitors can find many traditional music sessions in these parts 7 nights a week, most have no cover charges and are family friendly. If you have a question, do leave it in the box below and expect a prompt response. I have also noted those that are family friendly. Experiencing a trad session is a 'must do', when visiting Donegal.
De Luain / Monday:
An iconic local bar in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht. Their Monday night session is known as one of the best Irish traditional music sessions in Ireland, yes, in the whole country. And you'll see why when you experience it. Informal culture at its authentic best. Visitors from all over the world know and love this place for the magic of the sessions. You never know who will join in being as Altan and Mairead Mooney are long time regulars. Serving the finest local craft beer, this is the kind of place you don't want to leave. Monday is their main night for trad, but you'll find trad music here on Friday's, Sundays and beginner sessions on a Thursday. Go leor gaeilge!
De Máirt / Tuesday:
1 - Teach Billy - Gort a Choirce, across from Óstan Loch Altan
Every Tuesday evening from about 10 pm – hail, rain or shine, you can be entranced by the best traditional Irish music “seisiun” or session in the region. There is NO cover charge. Don’t rush in and fly out again. The fire will be lit, the pint perfect and things will happen in their own good time. Probably one of the most authentic sessions around. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers)
2 - Tionscnamh Lugh present a Summer of traditional Sessions. Expect high quality music and artists at a reasonable cost. You will find separately and simultaneously art classes for children, while, the best known of traditional artists share the stage, with the best local artists, each Tuesday in July and August in 2015. 8.30pm - 10.30pm. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers) Family friendly.
3 - Teach Jack - Glassagh
If you want to know where all the local set dancers hangout, this is the place. A Ceilí (traditional Irish dancing) is held here every Tuesday night, year round. Expect a vibrant display of traditional Irish céilí dancing, local musicians, a warm welcoming atmosphere. The last Sunday of every month they host a "Céilí Mór". Teach Jack is a hotel/Guest house, located in a stunning location, fine food and always a warm Donegal welcome. Go leor gaeilge. (plenty of native speakers)
3 - The Corner Bar, Dungloe
Plenty of locals gather together here every Tuesday for a good auld music session in the lovely Gaeltacht town of Dungloe. Home to the festival Mary from Dungloe.
De Ceadaoine / Wednesday:
1- An Crannog - The local cultural centre in Derrybeg. This is the centre where all the local young people take music lessons, this centre nurtures the musical tradition of the area to grow and develop. (pictured right) Throughout the summer months they host a traditional music session nó "Seisúin Ceoil" every Wednesday 8.30pm to 10pm, especially aimed at visitors, this is perfect for families. Expect a very high caliber of music and singing, both young and old. Agus go leor gaeilge. You will hear the Irish language through song as well. Beautiful. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers) Family friendly.
Also. From the 7-9th August they host the Gaoth Dobhair Music & Cultural festival - Loinneog Lúnasa with famous singers such as Máire Brenanan and Altan, definitely check this out.
2 - An tSean Bheairic / Falcarragh visitor centre host an evening called "Ceol agus Tapas" music & tapas. This is the perfect early evening session where families are most welcome. Expect a warm welcome, local musicians and a wonderful evening of traditional Irish music. Begins 15th July, 8-10pm, then weekly throughout the summer. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers) Family friendly.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann Meenacross, are a local collective of traditional musicians, and they host an Irish Traditional Music session at The Ionad which is the local resource centre for The Rosses area in Dungloe, at the top of the town every Wednesday. Everyone is welcome to this informal session. Family Friendly, from 8.30pm.
Deardaoin / Thursday:
Located near the airport, is a 200 year old traditional bar, complete with hatch bar, open fire, warm local welcome from Colleen & Tom Doherty. Every Thursday night you'll find a nice wee session with local musicians and singers. I'd highly recommend getting there early to try Colleen's wonderful cooking, using locally sourced food, expect wholesome dishes with a fancy twist and at great prices too. Pictured right with her nomination for best restaurant.
Frank and Aine run a lovely bar, always reliable for music and good food no matter what night, they do B&B too. On a Thursday night you'll find local musicians gathered in the corner for an alternative session, with a mixture of traditional music and covers with Ger and Friends. Expect a warm welcome, lovely tunes, nice fire and other musicians are most welcome. Friday's you'll find folk music with Callum and Isabelle. Isabelle Curran is the finest accordian player, there is nothing this woman can't play, her talent is simply and she's great craic. Thats actually one of my favourite sessions....
An Crann Og are the area's young traditional music collective, they play at Teach Jack every Thursday night from 10pm, there can be up to 12 or more at any one time. Beautiful music coupled with traditional Irish song. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers) Family friendly.
4 - Teach a'Cheoil (The music house) Gort a Choirce
Comhaltas Chloich Cheann Fhaola, a local music collective, started their summer sessions in Teach a'cheoil gort a' choirce last night Thursday. They will run every thurs from 8pm. Music song dance, as well as a cup of teach and a few buns. Go leor gaeilge (plenty of native speakers) Family friendly.
De hAoine / Friday:
An iconic local bar in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht. Their Monday night session is known as one of the best Irish traditional music sessions in Ireland, yes, in the whole country. And you'll see why when you experience it. Informal culture at its authentic best. Visitors from all over the world know and love this place for the magic of the sessions. You never know who will join in being as Altan and Mairead Mooney are long time regulars. Serving the finest local craft beer, Kinnegar Farmhouse beers. Teach Hiudaí Beag is the kind of place you don't want to leave, the people are so friendly and bar staff are great craic. Monday is their main night for trad, but you'll find trad music here on Friday's, Sundays and beginner sessions on a Thursday. Go leor gaeilge! If its the last Saturday of the month, you MUST check out An Caberet Craiceailte, for me that's the best Irish Music night in the world. I hope you're lucky enough to experience it.
De Sathairn / Saturday:
Máire and Charlie Campbell (pictured below) have been running their guest house - teac Campbell for over 30 years. A family run guest house in the heart of Gaoth Dobhair. This summer, 2015, they have decided to host an early evening Traditional Irish Music session, aimed at families and visitors, especially for those who may not enjoy the late night pub culture. Expect local musicians, a relaxed atmosphere, and being wonderful hosts, there'll be tea and home made scones and a very warm Donegal and Glasgow welcome. This is a really lovely experience, I highly recommend it. Go leor gaeilge. Family friendly. From 8.30pm.
Located near the airport, Caislean Ór host a lively traditional Irish music session every Saturday night with local musicians. This hotel is in a beautiful setting, they also offer great food, seafood is a speciality and always a warm welcome.
De Domhnaigh / Sunday:
Every summer this uniquely vintage bar hosts an Irish traditional music session, starting at around 8pm. They've got an amazing beer garden, and on a summers evening as the sun goes down, there really is no place like it. This is the oldest family run bar in the town, and its just full of curiosities and years and years of memorabilia. Margaret pictured right will give you a very warm Donegal welcome. Family friendly.
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