The folk music of Ireland (also known as Irish traditional music, Irish trad, Irish folk music, and other variants) is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland.
In Topographia Hibernica (1188), Gerald de Barri conceded that the Irish were more skilled at playing music than any other nation he had seen. He claimed that the two main instruments used at this time were the "harp" and "tabor" (see bodhrán), that their music was fast and lively, and that their songs always began and ended with B-flat.
In A History of Irish Music (1905), W. H. Grattan Flood wrote that, in Gaelic Ireland, there were at least ten instruments in general use. These were the cruit (a small harp) and clairseach (a bigger harp with typically 30 strings), the timpan (a small string instrument played with a bow or plectrum), the feadan (a fife), the buinne (an oboe or flute), the guthbuinne (a bassoon-type horn), the bennbuabhal and corn (hornpipes), the cuislenna (bagpipes - see Great Irish Warpipes), the stoc and sturgan (clarions or trumpets), and the cnamha (castanets). There is also evidence of the fiddle being used in the 8th century.
Irish traditional music has survived more strongly against the forces of cinema, radio and the mass media than the indigenous folk music of most European countries. This was possibly due to the fact that the country was not a geographical battleground in either of the two world wars. Another potential factor was that the economy was largely agricultural, where oral tradition usually thrives. From the end of the second world war until the late fifties folk music was held in low regard. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (an Irish traditional music association) and the popularity of the Fleadh Cheoil (music festival) helped lead the revival of the music. The English Folk music scene also encouraged and gave self confidence to many Irish musicians. Following the success of The Clancy Brothers in the USA in 1959, Irish folk music became fashionable again. The lush sentimental style of singers such as Delia Murphy was replaced by guitar-driven male groups such as The Dubliners. Irish showbands presented a mixture of pop music and folk dance tunes, though these died out during the seventies. The international success of The Chieftains and subsequent musicians and groups has made Irish folk music a global brand.
Historically much old-time music of the USA grew out of the music of Ireland, England and Scotland, as a result of cultural diffusion. By the 1970s Irish traditional music was again influencing music in the USA and further afield in Australia and Europe. It has occasionally been fused with rock and roll, punk rock and other genres, as in certain recordings of Horslips, Thin Lizzy, The Corrs, The Chieftains, Enya, Clannad, Riverdance, and Van Morrison.
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