St. Patrick’s Day Contest Entry: Music to be Discovered

In Win A Trip to Ireland by TonyLeave a Comment

I’m not Irish but everyone who knows me will tell you my heart is.

I was fourteen years old when I was first introduced to Irish music. My aunt brought me to the Goderich Celtic Roots festival in Ontario, Canada where I participated in musician-led workshops, live band dances, and watched countless concerts. The part, however, which impacted and influenced me the most, were the sessions. I distinctly remember my frustration, sitting in the back of the pub at fourteen, listening to the musicians play tune after tune. My frustration wasn’t directed at my ginger ale, which  –  despite the latter word  –  was entirely free of the alcohol everyone around me appeared to be indulging in, but rather at my inability to do what the musicians were doing. I felt benched. I wanted to be part of the reason people tapped their feet, why they hollered and whistled, why they were reluctant to go home when the pub closed at 2am.

I wasn’t a stranger to music at fourteen, granddaughter of a musician, I had played the piano for years and played silver flute in my high school band. But it wasn’t until my exposure to Celtic music that I learned what kind of music I ought to be playing for the rest of my life. Some people like pop, some like jazz; I like Celtic. The social atmosphere was also key in commanding my passion. The ability to play with others at the drop of a hat, to make people dance and tap their feet, was all I ever thought music should be. So I bought a whistle and blew out my first few tunes on it, jigs mostly, since they were easier for me than reels at the time. I liked the whistle but I knew from the beginning I wanted above all to play the Irish flute.

Sometimes people ask “what’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” and unlike many people, I always have my answer poised on the tip of my tongue. I tell them what happened next. By my second year attending the festival, I had taught myself a dozen or so tunes on my whistle but was still dreaming of a flute. My aunt and a handful of other people from the Celtic community came together to buy me my first Irish flute, handmade by Richard Cox. They surprised me in a crowd of people, on the last day of the week-long festival, and when they handed me the flute, I proceeded to sit  –  free of all dignity  –  in the grass and cry. I eventually was able to thank them and it has been my goal ever since to put their gift to good use. The next year, and for all the years since, I have refused to sit out on any session.

I’m nineteen now, a student at the University of Toronto, and after three years of saving, I have bought myself a second flute, albeit better, I often find myself playing my first flute for nostalgic reasons. I have begun taking Irish flute lessons and all my friends in my residence building know me as “the girl who’s always in the practice room with her wooden flute”. Sometimes I get a small audience, or a guitar player who wants to try out some reels. But although I try to bring as many Celtic music opportunities into my life as possible, it’s not always enough.

That is why I want to win this trip to Ireland. I want to sit in a pub and play in an authentic Irish session. I want to bring back photographs and memories and, most importantly, tunes.


Would you like to embark on your very own Ireland Vacation to discover the music of the land? You can reach out to any one of our travel experts to start putting together your own customized quote featuring all the activities and experiences you wish to include! Read some Authentic Ireland Reviews to see how we created the perfect trip for hundreds of travelers in the past.

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