Irish music can be heard all across the United States, and even on the Palouse, come this St. Patrick’s Day.Paul Smith, an Irish fiddler, is helping lead the 11th annual St. Paddy’s in Palouse with his wife Dona Abderhalden. Irish fiddling is “all over America, because of the potato famine in the 1840s.”
Out of 8 million people in Ireland in 1844, Smith said, 1.5 million died of disease or starvation in a seven-year period, and 2.5 million emigrated from Ireland.
“So starting in the later 1800s, there’s all these Irish immigrants in America,” he said. “A lot of important Irish music was preserved in America.”
Smith has played fiddle for 45 years, and visited Dublin, Ireland, in 1979 during his junior year of college.
“There was amazing music going on all around me,” he said.
Ever since, even though he knew Irish music was never something he’d make much money at, it’s been part of his life.
“It’s a delightful thing to learn to do,” he said.
Smith isn’t even the least bit Irish — he’s from Scotland and Smith’s grandfather even played Scottish bagpipes.
But, he said, when he taught American music at Washington State University, he found that more than half of his students had some Irish heritage.
“I just happened to gravitate toward Irish music,” he said.
Smith will play Irish fiddle music at 6 p.m. Monday at the Palouse Community Center, which will be decorated by the Palouse Arts Council. He will accompany some traditional Irish dancers, plus some other fiddling guests.
Abderhalden will prepare homemade Irish soda bread, which will be served with Cougar Gold cheese, cookies and a no-host bar of Guinness and IPA beer and wine.
Admission is $5 at the door, or free for those younger than 10 years old. Space is limited to 125 people.
“Truly,” Abderhalden said, “it’s the only place you can hear real Irish music on the Palouse on St. Paddy’s Day.”
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go:
WHAT: St. Paddy’s on the Palouse
WHERE: Palouse Community Center, 230 E. Main St., Palouse
WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday
COST: $5 or free for children younger than 10