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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 10, 2019

Where do the tunes come from? When does inspiration hit? Shannon learns that it's all about timing, in this short story about a jig by accordion player Billy McComiskey.

Plenty of music here, too. Full playlist below.

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Thanks to everybody for listening. And a special thank you to Chris Murphy, Naka Ishii,...


Nov 12, 2019

What’s up with the endless cups of Irish tea? Is there something genuinely nourishing about a pile of french fries and melted cheese? Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Matthew Olwell, Jamie McClennan, and Matt Heaton help me digest the meaning behind the menu. And I’ve also got tasty tales from Kevin Doyle, Liz Carroll, John...


Oct 8, 2019

Are Irish fairies REAL? And if so, could there be Sí folk living in New England?? Fiddle player Martin Hayes, singer Emily Smith, and storyteller Máirtín de Cógáin help me and this month’s co-producer Nigel Heaton investigate songs, stories, and possible gateways to the Otherworld.

Plenty of music here, too. Full...


Sep 10, 2019

What do the Irish music and dance worlds think about practicing? Fiddle players Fergal Scahill, Finn Magill, and Rose Flanagan; banjo player Martin Howley; cellist Natalie Haas; flute player Nicole Rabata; and dancer Kieran Jordan share thoughts about woodshedding in the trad world.

Plenty of music here, too. Full...


Aug 13, 2019

Why learn old songs from your neighbors, when the airwaves are brimming with NEW music? And how can a rooster’s crow affect singing technique? Hear stories behind Len Graham’s life of song in this month’s Cuppa Tea chat. No matter the aperture, apertoire, or repertoire, Len’s got a story (and a song) to suit...