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Welcome to Irish Music Stories, the show about traditional music and the much bigger stories behind it. IMS is about everything--through an Irish music lens.

Whether you already play the fiddle or you know nothing about trad music or dance, I hope you'll join me, Shannon Heaton, as I learn how a band of Boston tweens ended up at a big music competition in Sligo, and what it meant to their families... and as I dig into the darker, sweeter side of Irish humor... and as I explore what learning Irish songs together is really all about.

Meet thoughtful and incredibly charming people in pubs, kitchens, and backstages throughout the U.S., Ireland, and beyond, underscored with toe-tapping and heart-soaring melodies that seem familiar, even if you've never heard them before.

Dec 12, 2017

Why listen to Irish Music Stories?  The common thread of this month’s stories is, of course, Irish music. But it’s not the only thread. Digging into stories—whether they center around Irish music, chess, or ballet—uncovers real struggle and triumph. And it gives us all something to cheer about, something...


Nov 14, 2017

What does the Irish language have to do with the Beatles? If it hadn’t been for an unlikely stew of songs of pop music and songs learned in the Gaeltacht, singer and guitarist Dáithí Sproule might never have opened his heart to harmony and arranging. Host Shannon Heaton’s conversation with Dáithí details a...


Oct 10, 2017

Why do traditional musicians place a premium on humor and social rapport? Rory Makem, John Doyle, John Williams, Aidan Collins, Pauline Logue, Lisa Coyne, and Siobhan and Brendan McKinney help Shannon investigate the deep wellspring of Irish wit. Whether you already have an arsenal of quick comebacks, or you’ve never...


Sep 12, 2017

How does Irish dance connect with traditional music today? And what’s up with all the different types of social, performative, and competitive trad dance? Kieran Jordan, Liam Ó Scanláin, the Glencastle Irish Dancers, and Jimmy Keane help host Shannon Heaton detangle a few musical threads in Irish...


Aug 8, 2017

What’s the buzz behind the uilleann pipes? Here’s the story of Irish piping: how the chanter, drones, and regulators hum together…. and how the lure, the lore, and the love of the uilleann pipes go for The Rowsome family, Tim Britton, Tom Rota, Patrick Hutchinson, and Isaac Alderson. 

There’s plenty of music...