“My grandfather played in a little place in Sligo… When they would play it was like a conversation. Then they would stop and chat. Their chat was about life, getting to know each other, and having fun. It was about the conversations, the craic, the humanity, the fundamental coming together.” —John Doyle

This month I look back on conversations from 2017. Of course, Irish music has been the common thread. But it’s not the only thread.

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There is talk of teamwork. Of facing challenges. Of the complexity of family legacy. And most of all, there’s always reflection about coming together, the gathering that guitarist John Doyle talked about.

There’s great music here, too, from Mary MacNamara, Seamus Connolly, and thoughtful underscore from Matt Heaton. (Full music credits below.)

As the days get colder and darker for many of us, communal activities sustain us, whether they center around Irish music, chess, or running. They give us something to do, something to work for, something to cheer about.

And they give us memories. They give us stories. Like the story of the kids who competed in Ireland. As singing teacher Mairin Ui Cheide explains, “The competition is just a minor part of it. It’s the people you meet, the relationships you build, and the community you belong to..  And that’s what sustains you as a human, to belong.”

Here are thoughts from John Doyle, Rose Flanagan, and Mairin Ui Cheide from Season One. And a gentle remix of most of “Trip to Sligo,” which told the story of a band of American tweens and their Irish music journey.

I love this episode, and I hope some of you will play it for your family after you’ve exchanged gifts or eaten several plates of turkey and cranberries.

You can also find the original “Trip to Sligo” episode on YouTube with subtitles. Hope this helps make the show even more accessible.

Whether you already play Irish music, or you know very little about it, these stories about working together resonate deeply. Wishing us all less division, more effort, and more reward… together.

Next month (Tuesday January 9th), I’ll offer a SHORT preview of Season Two. If this is your first IMS episode, I hope you’ll also check out:
Episode 01-Trip to Sligo
Episode 00-Introducing Irish Music Stories
Episode 02-Cuppa Tea with Karan Casey
Episode 03-Every Tuesday at Nine
– Episode 04 – Cuppa Tea with McKinneys and McCarthy
– Episode 05 – Handed Down
Episode 06 – The Backer
Episode 07 – The Piper
Episode 08 – Miss McCleod’s Reel at 113
– Episode 09 – Want of Wit
– Episode 10 – Cuppa Tea with Daithi Sproule

Music Heard on IMS Episode 11
all music traditional, unless otherwise indicated

Tune: “The Tap Room” (reel), from rehearsal, circa 2009
Artist: Dan Gurney (accordion), Shannon Heaton (flute), Matt Heaton (guitar)

Tune: “Heartstrings Theme,” production music made for this episode
Artist: Matt Heaton (guitar)
Composer: Matt & Shannon Heaton

Tune: “Travel Theme,” production music made for this episode
Artist: Matt Heaton (guitar)
Composer: Matt & Shannon Heaton

Tune: “Grupai Ceoil Theme,” production music made for this episode
Artist: Matt Heaton (guitar)
Composer: Matt & Shannon Heaton

Closing Tune: “Black Rogue” (jig), from rehearsal, circa 2010
Artist: Shannon Heaton (flute), Matt Heaton (guitar)

PLUS ADDITIONAL MUSIC HEARD in original Episode 01 broadcast:

Tune: “I’m Waiting for You”  from The Banks of the Shannon, Green Linnet 1993
Artist: Seamus Connolly (fiddle), Charlie Lennon (piano)

Tune: “The Imperial Set” (first tune is “Follow Me Down to Milltown”), from Live in Lisdoonvarna, (Torc Music, 2002)
Artist: Kilfenora Céilí Band

Tune: “Jennifer Molloy’s” (Jig), from From Tulla to Boston: Live at the Burren
Artist: Mary MacNamara (from the Trad Youth Exchange)

Tune: “Joe Cooley’s Reel,” from From Tulla to Boston: Live at the Burren
Artist: Tulóg and Realta Gaela (from the Trad Youth Exchange)

Tune: “Triumph Theme,” production music made for this episode
Artist: Matt Heaton (guitar)
Composer: Matt & Shannon Heaton

Tune: “High Part of the Road” (Jig), field recording by Liz Carroll (1976)
Artist: Bridge Céilí Band

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thank you for listening.

hanks always to Matt Heaton for the beautiful underscore for the show. And THANK you to Brian Benscoter, Isobel McMahon, Peter Bartman, and Brandon Kennedy who helped underwrite this month’s episode. Thank you for your donations. Thank you for reaching out and encouraging this project—and me! I’m so lucky to pull these Irish music stories together, and donations help me share this show with everybody.

Please consider DONATING HERE.
And please help people find the show by rating IMS on iTunes.

Thank you for reading and listening! I hope you’ll come back for next month’s episode, available Tuesday January 9th, 2018.