In the 1960s the then tiny village of DOOLIN, 7km north of the Cliffs of Moher, developed a reputation for its traditional music, largely thanks to the reputation of a bachelor farmer Micho Russell, a singer, flute and whistle player. Appreciation for his very natural and rhythmic playing resulted in TV and radio appearances and an international touring career. Attracted by his music, a trickle of enthusiasts began to visit Doolin’s pubs to hear the playing of Micho and his two brothers Packie and Gussie, all sadly departed. Today, Doolin is awash with tourists virtually throughout the year, cramming into its pubs (O’Connor’s in Fisher Street on the way to the harbour, Fitzpatrick’s Bar in the Hotel Doolin – and McGann’s and McDermott’s at the northern end) enticed by the village’s renown. Unfortunately, most of the music churned out nightly is not the “pure drop”, but either neatly adjusted to suit popular tastes or simply amplified garbage, and in truth there are many other and better places to hear Clare’s often fabulous traditional music.

The village itself is not especially attractive either, sprawling across mainly flat land towards the sea and cluttered by an incoherently planned jumble of modern houses. Yet, for all its faults, you will occasionally strike lucky with a session and there’s no doubting that the place does possess a certain charm.

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