Skip the green beer, I’ll take the music and the craic

Upstairs at Madden's Bar, Belfast.
Upstairs at Madden’s Bar, Belfast.


Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a day when Americans of varied ethnicities celebrate an Irish saint by mistaking four-leaf clovers for shamrocks and getting wasted on bad beer dyed an unnatural shade of green.

For most of my adult life this is a day I never paid much attention to. Too many rookie drinkers at the bars here to make it all that much fun. Unless, that is, you’ve got friends playing music at one of those bars, and then the story is different.

One of the things I love about the research trips I make to Northern Ireland is that I’ve come to know and become friends with some astonishingly good traditional Irish musicians.

So in honor of St. Patrick and my friends in Belfast, here are videos of some of the folks I’ve gotten to meet, play a tune, raise a glass, and enjoy the craic¹ with. Ól, ceol, agus craic!²

¹Craic is an Irish word for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. In short, good times. Often used with the definitive article — the craic — as in “What’s the craic?” meaning “What’s going on?” or “Enjoying a bit of the craic” meaning a pleasant time out with friends and acquaintances.

²Drink, music, and a good time!