The 50 Best Irish Music Acts Right Now (Almost)

Nighttime Limerick - A place rarely visited by Irish Times music journalists

Nighttime Limerick - A place rarely visited by Irish Times music journalists

Every Friday afternoon I buy a copy of The Irish Times and sometimes, if I’m up earlier, I buy it around midday. I used to buy it more often but at nearly €2 a pop I don’t think it’s such good value anymore. I buy it on a Friday because of its weekly supplement, The Ticket. It provides me with reviews, interviews and articles about music, bands, films and filmmakers that come from (or are coming to) Ireland. I read it as a cultural tourist because if I want to see the bands or films written about I usually have to travel to Dublin in order to do so

In Ireland, the national print and broadcast media are all based in Dublin. What can you do? It’s a small country and the largest concentration of people is in its capital city. What it means in terms of how the news is presented is that there tends to be a bias towards the capital city at the expense of the rest of the country.The situation is even worse for music and film fans who happen to live outside Dublin. Due the size of its population the majority of musical acts will only play gigs in the capital. Therefore, the majority of press coverage concerning live gigs tends to focus on Baile Átha Cliath

Today’s front page of The Ticket promised to reveal The 50 Best Irish Music Acts Right Now. I was intrigued. I’m Irish. I like music. I like lists. I like right now. As I queued up to pay for the paper and as I left the shop I wondered which of my favourites would be there. I wondered how many of the usual suspects would turn up yet again. Mostly, I wondered how many acts from Limerick would be on the list. I even wondered about the process they went through to choose the final fifty. I thought about the music industry figures and writers and maybe even musicians who must have been involved in the creation of this definitive list of recent musical talent from Ireland

While waiting for a cup of tea and a sit-down I had a quick flick through the list. Half of The Ticket’s 32 pages are given over to listings and today’s cover feature took up five whole pages of the remainder. As I skimmed through the pages I was equally surprised, delighted and puzzled by the selections on offer. It did indeed include many of my own favourites, the usual suspects and even a number that I hadn’t heard of before. But, the closer I got to the end the more I began to realise that I hadn’t seen any Limerick bands on the list. I sat down and looked at it more closely, but I couldn’t find a single act from Limerick. The closest person to Limerick that I managed to find was Clare-born fiddler Martin Hayes

As I looked at it again, I noticed a few more acts from around the country that were also missing. I also discovered how the list had been put together. What I had in front of me hadn’t been compiled by a diverse selection of music figures based in Ireland. Rather, it was an amalgamation of the collected musical preferences and prejudices of just four individuals: The Ticket’s music journalists. I must admit that I felt a little cheated. This list wasn’t The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now. It was The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now Chosen By The Four Music Journalists From The Ticket Section of The Irish Times. Admittedly, that is a bit of a mouthful and it would have been hard to fit on the cover. But that is what this list is

I too have my own particular musical preferences and prejudices. I agreed with some of the choices on the list, disagreed with others, and didn’t know enough about the rest to have an opinion, but I’m looking forward to checking them out. Over on the right you’ll see different groups of lists arranged by categories that link to various sites. The first link category is Bands From Limerick and it includes a number of Irish bands that happen to be based in Limerick. I’ve listened to their music in recorded form or seen them at gigs more than once and, while I’m not saying that all of them should be on The Ticket’s list, I find it hard to believe that none of them have made the grade. However, I must admit that this list is biased and prejudiced. I must reveal that, while I’m not married to anyone on my list, I am personally acquainted with nearly everyone in those bands. What can you do? It’s a small country. And Limerick’s a small town. An awful lot smaller than Dublin

Limerick’s Great Friday Festival 2009

7 thoughts on “The 50 Best Irish Music Acts Right Now (Almost)

  1. Sitting in a little house in the mountains of West Virginia having a smoke (or 3), a midday (ish) cup of coffee, and checkin’ your blog out – Thanks for an interesting read!

    • Cheers, dude. I studied for a year in North Kentucky, just outside Cincinnati, but I’m afraid I never made it to West Virginia. I hope you’re getting a good internet signal there to go with your cigarettes and coffee!

  2. “It was a list of the top fifty bands they’d had a pint with in Dublin”

    Considering that exactly half of the Top 50 don’t live in Dublin or are not from Dublin, they might be waiting a time for those pints

  3. You have a point there, Bock. Look out for my forthcoming series Ten Limerick Acts Who’ve Bought Me a Drink. I hope it won’t be pintless

  4. That is true and I’m completely aware that any list is arbitrary. My list of Bands from Limerick on the right goes up to eleven and ten of those are active. I’m going to get in touch with all of them and hope to do a post on each over the coming months. I’ll keep you posted

  5. Well, you know what you gotta do. I’d love to read a top 10 bands from Limerick or something along those lines. If nothing else the Ticket has got the rest of us thinking about the acts that should’ve appeared in the Top 50.

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