Everyone kept telling us that it wasn’t usually freezing in Dublin in November, yet the temperatures kept dropping on our last minute trip to Ireland. The trip was completely unplanned and last minute thanks to finding some great Dublin airfares, but was also short. We only had a couple of days to explore Dublin for the first time.
It was Thanksgiving weekend back home, but my memories of those few days are mostly a blur of churches, beer and warm hospitality. The one evening that remains vivid though is our experience at the Irish House Party.
When I first heard of the House Party, what came to mind instantly were images of rowdy people and loud music, anything but a fun evening on the town. Luckily for us, my first thoughts were wrong and the Irish House Party turned out to be as unique as Dublin itself.
The House Party is an evening of traditional Irish food and music, a ceilidh with dinner. We arrived early at a cute, boutique hotel in a quiet Dublin suburb and were immediately met by an energetic, rosy-cheeked fellow named Ian who took our things and with a broad flourish, led us into a private room.
The evening began by meeting our fellow table companions, all drawn to the event by the promise of good food and even better music. The meal, while perhaps predictable, made up for its lack of ingenuity with its quality and taste. Perhaps it was the bitter cold winds howling just outside the door, but soda bread and a warm, hearty Irish stew had never tasted so good.
Just as I had sopped up the last morsel of stew with the hearty Irish bread, the lights dimmed and a band materialized on the dance floor. This wasn’t your standard, drums and guitar band, it was a proper Irish ceilidh ensemble. A ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic gathering with lots of rousing traditional Irish music and dancing, and it’s a lot of fun.
The next two hours were a blur of classic Irish ballads, as well as new ones written in the same, melodic style. Interspersed between sets were amazing examples of Irish dancing, an acrobatic feat is there ever was one, and even storytelling. The audience quickly got into the spirit of the evening and clapped, sang along and even danced.
By the end of the night, rather than grateful to be heading back to a warm bed, we were all sad to leave our new friends and for the evening of jubilation to end.
To the outsider, the Irish House Party may seem a little touristy; rest assured that it is anything but a cheesy travel experience. The talented musicians started the House Party as a protest to the generic “traditional Irish” pubs and shows one can find throughout the city. You won’t see any green outfits or leprechauns at this event; instead you will learn about real Irish music and dance from people who are truly passionate about their craft.
So if you want to experience real Irish culture and history, be sure to book your spot early at the Irish Dance Party or you may find yourself sipping warm beer on Dame Street, politely clapping at dancing leprechauns.