It’s easy to hear live Irish music during the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. But local Irish musicians say their scene is thriving year-round. For this week’s Shuffle, Maureen Conway-Reich and Marcus Dirk of the band Ballinloch talk about their roots.
'Ballinloch' means 'our town on the lake' in Irish, and the band says it's a tribute to their homeland of Ireland and their hometown of Cleveland.
Generations keep the culture alive
Reich says Northeast Ohio has a rich Irish music scene.
"There was an Irish Music Academy organized by Irish musicians who wanted to teach the craft to the next generations. So we have probably three generations now of people who've been playing Irish music."
Reich, who plays fiddle, mandolin and tenor banjo, says her family was among the last big Irish immigration rush that came to America in the '50's.
"I consider this one of the ways I can continue to keep that culture alive."
Celebrating the homeland
The band has been performing in support of its latest album, Home From The Sea. Marcus Dirk is the band's primary songwriter.
"I'm a huge fan of history so one of the things we try to do is [capture] the American experience of Celtic music."
Dirk says the song "Ancient Road" is about Irish immigration.
"It's basically about no matter if you've been here 200 years or if you just got here 20 minutes ago from Ireland, there's this connection that we all have. And when you're there to experience breathing the air and walking those roads, there's a lot of history that brought us here and why we're here."
He says the song "Iron Ore Terrier" is about the first Irish who came to Cleveland.
"One of the first jobs they could get, which wasn't a very good job, was to unload the ire ore boats. And they all became red from the dust."
Reich says the band's primary focus is to keep the culture alive.
"We want to teach the younger generation and bring on younger musicians and teach the dancing and continue these great celebrations. It's not about green beer."
Ballinloch has a concert this Saturday, March 17th at the G.A.R. Hall in Penninsula.