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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.

Jun 12, 2018

Does it make sense to sing about Willie and Mary, when our playgrounds are filled with Ozzies and Loxleys? Do we really need to say “my love is like a red, red rose,” or can’t we use a modern metaphor and call her really hot? Laura Cortese, Cathy Jordan, Sam Amidon, Robbie O’Connell, and Karan Casey explore old...

May 8, 2018

It takes a village to play Irish music. And accordion player Billy McComiskey’s heart is full of pride and appreciation for his adopted village of Baltimore, Maryland. Tune in as Billy and his sons, Sean and Mikey, tell beautiful, universal stories, through an accordion lens. And hear from folklorist Maggie Holtzberg...

Apr 10, 2018

Irish dance tunes are rhythmic creations. And musicians and dancers are rhythmic creatures. Turns out, the way we play and dance is shaped by our instruments, our bodies, our intentions, our culture, and maybe magical forces, too. Tune in as fiddle player Eileen Ivers, dancer Nic Gareiss, mandolin player Marla Fibish,...

Mar 13, 2018

Dance Hall scenes shaped people's lives in Irish America from the mid 1940s-1960s. To help understand this colorful time in Irish American history--and to consider immigration in an Irish key--Sue Lindsay, Joanie Madden, Kevin Doyle, Helen Kisiel, and Brian O’Donovan share stories about love, livelihood, and...

Feb 13, 2018

Non-specific? Simplistic? Academic? What’s up with the word Celtic, and what does it have to do with Irish music? This month, Shannon unpacks the meaning and mysteries of Celtic culture with Seamus Egan, Neil Pearlman, Marc Gunn, and Ellery Klein… and a few coffee drinkers at Mystic Roaster in Medford, Mass.