Norse traders, medieval monks, Renaissance era scholars, contemporary artists and film makers, old pubs and new galleries, high end flats and loud drunks at the weekend — Temple Bar in the heart of Dublin City has been home to all of these over the years. There are still a few of the loud drunks celebrating hen and stag parties, but these days, and particularly during the last week in January, they are far outnumbered by musicians and those who come to enjoy music.

That’s because late January is the time for Temple Bar Trad Fest, which as you might expect from its name is a celebration of Irish music and culture. What began as a two day weekend has expanded, this year encompassing six days and six nights of music, workshops, family oriented events, sessions, and more across this historic neighborhood just south of the Liffey, taking place from 22 through 27 January.

The range of music is wide, too. Platinum selling songwriter Declan O’Rourke is a headliner (wondering who he is? think Galileo, as recorded by Josh Groban, Eddi Reader, and others). From Donegal in Ireland’s far northwest, the super group quartet that is T with the Maggies will bring their songs in Irish and English. From acroos the seas, flute player Joanie Madden and accordion specialist Billy McComiskey will be on hand. Brining in a classical music touch, the West Ocean String Quartet will offer music from their newly released album Indigo. From Sligo, the high energy ensemble that is Teada will offer a lively evening of tunes, and County Calre native and longtime Nashville resiedent singer Maura O’Connell will bring her powerful and soulful ballads to the mix. Artists from Cape Breton in Atlantic Canada will join for an evening sharing their part of Celtic tradition. There will also be a much anticipated gathering of many of the musicians whose work appears on the album A Stor Mo Chroi, a collection which features Irish songs of love in its many stages and varieties.

Concerts will take place in venues across Temple Bar, including the historic Christ Church Cathedral and The Bank of Ireland building. The Ark will be a hub for activities for children including open session where kids can make their music, as well as workshops to help them learn it. There will be workshops for adults, too. The pubs in Temple Bar will be hosting their own sessions, there will be sessions for singers, and The Ark will be the site of an open mic stage as well.

Many of the events are ticketed, and there are a number of free events — those pub sessions for example — as well.

Temple Bar is easily reached by just about any transport that makes it to Dublin City Center. If you are looking for other things to do while in Dublin, one of my favorite places is the National Museum of Archaeology just a short walk away from Temple Bar in Kildare Street. It has the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, and a bit of the flag that flew over the GPO during the Easter Rising, among other things. For Dublin guidebooks, I’ve found Lonely Planet’s Dublin City Travel Guide useful, and the Dublin sections of Let’s Go Ireland helpful as well.

photograph of Teada by Brendan Duffy

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