The Chair of Liverpool Irish Festival is one of the Festival’s founders and a keen musician to boot. Below, John Chandler, speaks about where you can catch a session (seisiún in Gaeilge) in this great UNESCO World Heritage Music City.
Liverpool’s Irish music heritage was highlighted in the BBC’s The Travel Show: Liverpool: The Greatest Showmen in May 2023. For those readers with a BBC TV licence, the programme is still available on iPlayer, accessible here.
During the show I was quizzed by presenter Lee Adams -in the middle of a lively session in The Saddle Inn– about the impact and whereabouts of Irish music in the city.
Accessing trad news
I shared my view that Liverpool plays host to traditional music sessions most nights of the week, somewhere in the city. A little further research has shown that I’m not far wrong! Some of Liverpool’s finest pubs continue to attract musicians, singers and audiences to their sessions. So much so, there are a number of social media pages dedicated to just this.
Among the most populated of those is the Liverpool/Irish Trad Sessions Facebook page, found here. We’d recommend you checking this at any time of the year, for updates on the sessions that are running.
During the Festival, there’s always at least one Friday session, in the fabulously quirky Peter Kavanagh’s pub. If you’ve never been to a session, this is a fantastic introduction to a lively, fun and high-spirited night. Head there on Fri 20 Oct 2023, to whet your whistle (and again on Fri 27 Oct, should the mood take you).
Days and locations
Shenanigan’s, like The Saddle Inn, is more central to Liverpool. There are tunes there, usually fortnightly on Wednesdays, run by Chris Boland (new chair of Liverpool’s Comhaltas chapter). The closest of these to the Festival dates will be Wed 18 Oct 2023.
The Saddle hosts sessions on Thursdays, whilst The Edinburgh crams in the usual suspects -along with visitors from all over the world- every Monday night. The Liverpool Ceili Band host tunes in Kelly’s Dispensary (on Smithdown Road rather than Renshaw Street) on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, whilst Lynny and Charlie McKeon are reviving The Caledonia’s Tuesday sessions. If this weren’t enough, Charlie hosts another session in The Beeswing every Sunday afternoon (3-6pm).
We’ve also come to expect trad music the Liverpool Irish Centre, usually on the third Sunday afternoon of the month (along with a raft of other music and activity all year long). Further afield, in Rainford, The Junction hosts a session on the first Thursday of every month.
This is only a snapshot view of where to play, sing or listen to trad music locally. I’m sure there will be others, too; all subject to confirmation. Liverpool’s sessions tend to be cosy and welcoming so get there in good time to pull up a seat and enjoy a rich experience! Please check with venues and webpages before you set off on your quest for tunes.
If you are looking for a regular céilí, Liverpool Irish Centre runs one on the last Wednesday of every month, with live music and (explanatory) dance callers. The first dance starts at approximately 8.30pm, running until 11pm. A large plated supper is included, for just £3!
In alphabetical order…
Liverpool Irish Centre
It is worth noting that Comhaltas Liverpool have a home at the Centre. Anyone wanting to get involved in Irish music, dance, singing or céilí/set dancing could make enquiries there. You can learn more about the organisation at https://comhaltas.ie/
- 22 Caledonia Street, Liverpool L7 7DX
- +44 (0) 151 306 2496
- Website: http://www.thecaledonialiverpool.com/
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