Most Irish of All ?

Think you know Irish music and song ?

Sean Nós, 'old style', Irish singers and

song have long been hidden. If you don't

know it - maybe you should at least know

a little bit about it. At first glance, here is

what I have picked up about it. Best you

research it for yourself .....

It is the oldest form of Irish singing I know


What Sean Nós is

The best way to find out is to listen to some

real Sean Nós singers. The term was first

used in the 20th century to describe the old

Irish way of singing. That was a song generally

sung solo and in the Irish language, with a

particular style, which varied according to locale

and individual in Ireland.

The Irish Culture

It is a link to the lost culture of the Irish going

back for centuries. Queen Elizabeth must have

been impressed, for she had several of the songs

written down. Of course, that would have been

difficult, as this Irish form of song did not follow

the rules of other forms of musical notation.

17th century loss

As the bards began to disappear in Ireland, and

the Irish language and way of life fell under

increasing attacks, singers of Irish song were

under attack as well. This was the beginning

of the end of the old ways. The art form of

Sean Nós singing still survives, but most do

not know it really. ( myself included ).

What it is not

Here is what I hear said :

It is not English 'ballad' singing in style or form.

It is not like the 'Tin Pan Alley' songs in America.

It often tells a story.

Some describe it as 'saying a song'. (Joe Heaney )

It generally does not use standard increases and

decreases in singers volume level for emphasis.

It is not simply 'solo' singing.

Sean Nós Nua

Today most accept songs sung in the English

language as Sean Nós, if the style fits. Most

insist it have cultural ties to Ireland and her


We also have 'Sean Nós Nua' which can have

new adaptations, orchestras, and all types of

instrumentation. But then, this is just my

passing opinion,

I am by far no expert, the best way to learn

what Sean Nós is : Listen to it being sung.

We have several excellent examples on our

Sean Nós page here:

Our Favorites

Beginning to understand it, we have favorites.

We include on our web page:

Liam O Maonlai (Sadhbh Ni Bhruinneallaigh)

Darach O Catháin (Óró sé do bheatha 'bhaile)

Nell Ní Chróinín - (An Lacha Bacach)

iarla O Lionaird - (Lament of 3 Three Marys)

Call for Sean Nós

On my podcast we called for Sean Nós songs and

singers to make an appearance. We let them define

the term as they saw it. It definitely means different

things to different individuals today. I hope this

broadcast will help spread the word and create

interest in the field of Sean Nós today.

Organizations like Comhaltas provide a venue for

developing your talents in this arena - should you

decide to pursue things more seriously...

This would be a bottom up movement to be sure.

Thank to all who have cared enough to participate,

you have made a great contribution to the effort.

My first attempt online today.

I make no claim to being an expert, nor a singer,

nor an experienced Irish linguist, but I kicked

off the first show myself today, with a song in Irish.

You are invited to do so as well, at some point in

your life !

You'll be able to find it on iTunes under the 'Irish

Song and Recitation' podcast or on my web page

if you are curious about this beginning attempt

into Sean Nós.

Song Nós Song Fest

All of our Sean Nós song volunteers will be

featured on the show this year. If you care to

listen in, you will be able to find all the shows as

they appear, (season three) at:

More detailed accounts of the shows are at:

All the best,


P.S. Comments and advice welcome...