The Belfast Traditional Music Trail is a unique way to experience Irish music and in my opinion a brilliant way to enjoy a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. The tour, in partnership with An Droichead starts in the Cathedral Quarter and visits three bars – The Dirty Onion, The Duke of York and McHughes Bar and spends a bit of time in each one for a bit of craic and ceol (fun & music) to those not in the know!

Kicking off at 4pm around the fire in The Dirty Onion is a great place to start anything! Our tour was guided by two full time musicians Jason and Deirdre who’s passion for Irish music, tradition and language was infectious. The guides rotate depending on the week and play different instruments, giving some interesting information about them, so I’ll not ruin it for you! At each stop we were treated to a performance of tunes, songs and the history that makes up Ireland’s vibrant musical tradition. 

Our rowdy bunch (who started off quiet, but after a few sociables things got friendlier) was made up of locals, visitors from England, France, Israel and America. It didn’t really matter where we came from because at the end of it we were all dancing, singing and sharing stories like we were old friends. Aside from the music, there are also another few surprises to look forward to within the 2.5 hours so make sure to stay until the end. 

Being part of the inaugural Belfast Trad Music Tour was a great experience and I can see it really taking off over the next few months. It runs every Saturday and whether you’re a solo traveller, have friends visiting on holiday or you’re simply local wanting to learn more about Irish music, there is something you’ll enjoy along the way.

Oh and I’m sure if you play an instrument you could bring it along and join in. I used to play the recorder or fliúit Shasanach – which like many things sounds so much better spoken in Irish!

Tickets can be purchased for £15 from Visit Belfast or by calling 02890 288818.

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