Irish History Podcast


'From the Backwoods to the Motorway' A History of Traditional Irish Music

Traditional music is central to Irish culture and identity in the 21st century. Contrary to what we might think, this is a relatively recent development. As late as the 1960s Trad was perceived as unfashionable and musicians were not allowed to play in pubs. 

60 years later it has become extremely popular and recognised the world over. So what happen?

Last weekend I sat down with Tom Mulligan, a legend in Trad scene to talk about the history of Trad over the century. Tom hales from a well known musical family and owns the Cobblestone, the best known traditional music pub in the country. Indeed it was become something of a cultural institution over the last 35 years. 

In this interview Tom explains the roots of modern trad from Poland, Africa, the USA and back to Ireland. He also elaborates on the intriguing story of how trad went from a marginal genre in Irish society to its contemporary popularity.

While Trad has enjoyed a resurgence in recent decades, it faces an uncertain future in the 2020s. Property speculation in Dublin has seen numerous live music venues close in recent years to make way for hotels. There are fewer and fewer spaces for musicians in the city. 

Last year saw Tom's pub the Cobblestone became the latest to be earmarked for 'development'. Given its historic role in developing and nurturing trad music, this provoked large demonstrations and a campaign #dublinisdying. While the plans to build a hotel on the site were withdrawn last week, Tom explains how the Cobblestone is not out of the woods yet.

Follow the Cobblestone on twitter and Insta 

Music by Liam Costello

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