Erin go Bragh – Ireland Forever – isn’t that usually something you hear around pubs, parades and, well anywhere people are wearing green on March 17th? Also known as St. Patrick’s Day, if you don’t know the origin, let’s help you out:
St. Patrick’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Backing up a bit, his preaching ways were not initially welcomed, so he went to some smaller islands off the coast where his discourse started to gain traction, which then allowed him to move back to Ireland to continue to spread his word. During this time, Patrick baptized thousands of people, ordained priests, encouraged women to become nuns, and helped form over 300 churches.
While drinking green beer may not have been something he brought to the forefront, we can thank him for popularizing the shamrock (clover) as he used it to teach the concept of the Christian Holy Trinity. Ireland already embraced triple deities, so the use of the shamrock was quite favorable amongst the Irish. It is believed Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD.
Although not a direct descendant of St. Patrick’s Day, Irish music has a pretty cool history nonetheless. It’s said that the Celts’ fondness for the harp most likely originated in the east, coming as far away as Egypt; it was not until the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 that Irish music was noted via a manuscript that has survived to this day. Fast forward to the 1920s, and recordings of Irish musicians were being manufactured in the USA. When these vinyl singles made their way back to Ireland, locals were surprised to hear piano being played along with the fiddle and pipes, along with the music being sped up. As a result, musicians in Ireland also sped up the tempo of their music, and began including a piano to accompany them.
Fast forward to the 1970s, which were, apparently, the heyday of traditional Irish music. Planxty, a four-piece musical group. came on the scene and, with a change in the arrangements ( adding uilleann pipes, bouzouki mandolin, bodhrán and guitar to the mix), transformed and popularized Irish folk music in a way it never had been before.
Of course, the first band most people think of when they think of Ireland is U2 (Dublin), who have gone on to more success than any Irish act, ever. More artists from the Emerald Isle: Enya (Gweedor), Van Morrison (Belfast), The Chieftains (Dublin), the cranberries (Limerick), Thin Lizzy (Dublin), Sinead O’Connor (Glenageary), Clannad (Gweedor), The Corrs (Dundalk), The Script (Dublin), Damien Rice (Celbridge), Hozier (Bray), and more recently, The Murder Capital (Dublin), Fontaines DC (Dublin), Sinead O’Brien (Dublin) & Silverbacks (Dublin).
If you’re a Play MPE member, and even if no one person in your band is Irish, have a go! Maybe listen to some traditional Irish music and see what you can come up with that pays tribute but with a more modern twist. Hey, even the Pogues got together in London and not Dublin! Then use Play MPE to get it into the ears of tastemakers so when they’re looking to set their brand to some Irish hype, you may get the gig!
Feeling inspired? Go grab your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” hat, green shot glass, four-leaf clover shaped sunglasses and a shamrock shake, and spend the week celebrating St. Pat’s by listening to your favorite Irish artists!
– By Contributing Writer Katy Krassner