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Ireland in Schools

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Not as directly geared to delivering the curriculum as other subjects, Irish music is often used to
  • support other activities;
  • introduce children to a distinctive aspect of Irish culture;
  • try out Irish instruments, including the accordion, bodhrán and tin whistle; and
  • bring the whole school together, particularly through visits by Irish musicians and learning and singing Irish songs - ‘I’ll Tell My Ma’, ‘Molly Malone’, ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and ‘The Irish Rover’ are the favourites.

There are, however, signs at primary level that Irish music can become an integral part of the Music curriculum - with the support of the likes of the Manchester Music Service and if suitably qualified teachers are in post, as is happily the case at St Thomas RC Primary School More, Great Wyrley.
For a fuller discussion on the possible place of Irish music in the curriculum, please click here.

Commercial resources

The best resources are two commercial packages, published in Ireland but readily adaptable to the Music curriculum in Britain.

Mad for Trad by Julie Feeney                                                                     not responding, 08/10/2008
Three interactive CD-ROMs for primary school children in Ireland (ages 4-12), which support the Primary Music Curriculum (1999).

High quality video clips show performances and interviews with some of Irish music’s finest exponents.

The text focuses on the Listening and Responding strand. It can be used individually by the child or by the teacher as the basis for a whole-class activity.

Learning Traditional Irish Songs (with CD) by Marianne Jordan (€19.95 - 18/03/2012)

Celtic Publications, ISBN 9-78190469-935-7

‘For anyone who wants to learn some popular Irish sing-along songs, but is particularly suitable for schools.'

There are ten of the most famous & well-loved traditional Irish songs (Danny Boy; I'll Tell Me Ma; Lord Franklin; Molly Malone; Spancil Hill; The Black Velvet Band; The Fields of Athenry; The Galway Shawl; The Wild Rover; Whiskey in the Jar) plus 10 individual sounds of typical Irish instruments.
Sample ways to learn the songs include gap fill; grammar; vocabulary; pronunciation; picture order; Irish colloquialisms; guess the song; guess the instrument; comprehension questions; quiz.


Free resources

Music Planning Sheet (Y3 & 4)

Musical Traditions in Ireland - MS Word (Y10) IR Slemish College, NI
1. Lesson Plans (6 lessons) 2. Programme of Study                                                                     not responding, 08/10/2008

Irish History in Song
Famine in Poetry & Song
Folksongs & Ballads Popular in Ireland - six favourites
Quiz: Identifying Instruments Used in Traditonal Irish Music (Flash)

‘The Reel Thing’ - Traditional Irish Music in the Classroom IR                                                        not responding, 18/03/2012
Irish Instruments IR Slemish College, NI                                                                                      not responding, 08/10/2008
Irish Music Net IR

Instruments used in Irish traditional music

Irish music quiz - beware the occasional trick question

1. What type of Irish dance has a time signature of 6/8?
2. What is an Irish ‘drum’ called?
3. Name the type of pipes used in traditional Irish Music.
4. A time signature of 9/8 would be for what type of Irish dance?
5. Sean Nós singing is unaccompanied. True or false?

6. The violin and fiddle are different instruments. True or false?
7. Liam Óg O Flynn is associated with what instrument?
8. Is a hornpipe faster than a reel?
9. Who wrote the music for Riverdance?
10. What type of song is An Mhaighdean Mhara?

11. Give the name of a reel.
12. Give the name of a jig.
13. What instrument does James Galway play?
14. What instrument does Micheál O Súilleabháin play?
15. Name a style that M O Súilleabháin ‘mixes’ with traditional Irish, in his music?

16. Name two groups that play traditional Irish Music.
17. Name a group that plays a ‘mix’ of traditional and some other style.
18. Name two contemporary solo singers of Irish Music.
19. Where was the famous Harp Festival of 1792 held?
20. Who collected at this festival?
21. Name the famous Irish Harper born in Nobber, Co. Meath.
22. Name any group playing ‘Irish’ music in the 60s.
23. Name any Irish group playing ‘rock’ in the 70s.
24. What is the name of the very famous song by the Pogues?
25. What style did the Pogues mix with Irish music?

26. Denis Hempson, a harper, was 112 when he died? True or false?
28. When spoons are played in Irish Music, are they dessert spoons or soup spoons?
29. A bodhrán can be played with your knuckles? True or false?
30. Who wrote Riverdance?

31. For what occasion was this piece written?
32. Name the very important composer/lecturer/performer born in 1931? 33. Who wrote the Granuaile Suite?
34. Meath will probably win the All-Ireland in 2000!! What is the Anthem for the county? (Clue…..a Hill?)
35. Who wrote this song? He also wrote ‘The Last Rose of Summer’.

36. Name any county of Ireland and a song associated with it.
37. Is there a group called the Chieftains?
38. Which singer can now say Mass?
39. On a scale of 1 to 10, how original are the songs of the current ‘boy-bands’? (This is a serious question!) 1 is no originality and 10 is very original.
40. Name a lament.

41. What is your ‘set’ Irish folk song?
42. What is your ‘chosen’ Irish folk song?
43. George Petrie wrote the National Anthem? True or false?
44. Ceol is an exciting ‘interpretative centre’ for Irish Music? True or false
45. Why has most Irish music from before the 18th century disappeared?

46. What is the time signature for a reel? 47. What is the oldest type of Irish dance? 48. A slide is an Irish dance. True or false?
49. Many Irish songs end with a repeated ‘doh’. True or false?
50. Anúna is a rock band. True or false?