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Place, society and culture in a post-boom era

Ireland is a turbulent place. This book engages readers with the contours of transformation of Irish society through a series of distinct episodes and sites where change can be confronted. The content of the book intersects with the boom and bust themes to explore the economic and social implications of the recession. The processes are as diverse as cross-border development, farming knowledges, food movements, and the evolution of traditional Irish music. The modernisation of Irish society during the Celtic Tiger and its subsequent demise was a 'spatial drama' involving transformation in the material landscape and the imaginative representation of the island. The first part of the book explores the revolving intersections of identity politics with place. It tracks the discovery of the ghost estate and the ways in which it has been implicated in debates about the Irish economic crash, complicating ideas of home and community. After a discussion on immigration, the book discusses the role of migrants in filling labour and skill shortages. The second part pays attention to questions of mobility and consumption in urban and rural contexts. The new Irish motorway network, free time, leisure and holidaying in the lives of lone parents during the Celtic Tiger, and the role of National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) are discussed. The third part explores diverse cultural practices and some longstanding representations of Ireland. An autobiographical tour of the pub session, National Geographic's representations of Irish landscape and the current Irish imagination are the key concepts of this part.

Exploring the session space

centuries at least. Each performance of a tune by a musician may be considered, in itself, a reinterpretation of the tradition. The very existence of a pub session, probably the most common setting for the performance of Irish traditional music today, is itself a reflection of change in the tradition. Irish traditional music has been performed in private homes, at crossroads, fairs and markets, and in dancehalls at various times in history. While it entered pubs in the 1930s in some parts of the country, the pub session is 175 Culture and place predominantly a post

in Spacing Ireland

instrumentarium but of the pronounced regional differences on the island and between Ireland and its diaspora, and also regarding the range of expression extending from the solo sean nos singer to the Riverdance-style spectacle. We might finally connect this characteristic to the phenomenon for which Irish traditional music is most widely identified and celebrated: the pub session. The diverse instrumentarium is what makes this gregarious and infectious ritual so attractive across the globe. Perhaps it is just a happy historical accident, but Ireland is associated with a ritual

in Are the Irish different?
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Geographies of the post-boom era

health at the spa have always been a mix of the curative and the social, with the downturn, health-based narratives appear to have been rediscovered. In Chapter 12, ‘Traditional music here tonight: exploring the session space’, Daithí Kearney takes the reader on an autobiographical tour of the pub session. Through this novel filter, as well as taking a look at the evolution of traditional music itself during the Celtic Tiger years especially, the chapter also explores concepts of identity and tradition in a changing Ireland. It considers the complex relationship

in Spacing Ireland
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to be English-identified. Irish traditional music and dance also had a higher profile within popular culture with global phenomena such as Riverdance and supergroups like The Chieftans. It is hardly surprising, then, that people not involved in the cultures of folk music or dance might have taken the higherprofile Irish folk arts as a point of reference for folk. Sue Coe, talking about a pub session that centres around northern English tunes, noted in interview that: ‘people come through the room the session is in because that’s where the loos are. They used to say

in Performing Englishness
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’ experiences of the majority of participants in English folk culture. Within the small world of the English folk scene, numerous artists and activists occupy a dual role of both folk celebrity and grassroots participant: many musicians or dancers who are (in terms of profile) at the very height of the English folk resurgence can still be seen performing with a local morris side at a weekend dance out, playing a ceilidh for a wedding, or participating in a pub session. We have not, as is common in ethnographic work, presented our interviewees’ words in anonymous form, but

in Performing Englishness

folk music’s perceived origins as a participatory, self-motivated activity, rather than an audience-orientated practice. The most ‘grassroots’ exhibition of this behaviour can be seen in the context of a pub session, where players are creating music for their own enjoyment rather than for the benefit of other patrons (i.e. not producing music for an ‘audience’ per se: see 1.6).25 Through this reading, the audience is offered the privilege of bearing witness to a timeless, organic creative event, such as it would occur whether or not onlookers were present.26 Through

in Performing Englishness