Seamus McAfee

10 Irish Songs for Shredding the Slopes on St. Patrick’s Day

As St. Patrick’s Day arrives, many prefer to hit the slopes rather than the local pub. Or at least get some skiing and boarding in before they too throw some back at the lodge. You can start the celebration early by adding a healthy dose of hard-driving Irish songs to your run. Here’s 10 of the most shamrock n’ roll beats to get the most authentically Irish ski trip that’s ever been.

Young Dubliners, Waxies Dargle
This track wastes no time in launching into a heart-thumping Irish dance rhythm, complete with pipes, electric guitar, and a solid beat. Keep posted for the frantic violin solo in this song halfway though, which rivals the most face-melting guitar solos. “Waxies Dargle” is originally a popular Irish pub song that dates back to the 19th century, and the Young Dubliners excel at adapting such classics to the modern era. The only fallback is that the band continually yelling “Have a pint,” may prove too convincing, forcing you to make a early stop at the lodge’s bar.

The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
No St. Patrick’s Day playlist would be complete without an entry from the iconic Irish punk band, whose lead singer Shane MacGowan has outpartied even the most extreme rock stars. You’re not likely to pick out many of MacGowan’s gruff lyrics, but somehow you get the sense of what he’s trying to say. I’m particularly fond of his guttural scream about a minute into this song, followed by a lively instrumental session. Few songs exemplify a riotous Irish party as well as this classic, and if anything can get you stoked enough to take on a black diamond, it’s this gem.

Dropkick Murphys, The Warrior’s Code
This band has become synonymous with American Irish punk, and their “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” has been played relentlessly on TV and movies. “The Warrior’s Code” continues the band’s tradition of hard-hitting, bagpipe-backed punk rock headlines with growling lyrics. It’s technically about boxing, but it should an add extra punch to your skiing run just the same. It’s hard not to completely shred the mountain when you’ve gotten the lyrics “You’re the fighter, you’ve got the fire, The spirit of a warrior, the champion’s heart” blaring in your ear.

Flogging Molly, Salty Dog
This Celtic pirate song is bound to stir the rebellious spirit in snowboarders, and maybe even a skiier or two. The LA-based Flogging Molly shares a similar but slightly more light-hearted sound than Dropkick Murphy’s. “Salty Dog” is one of their most boisterous and defiant songs, sure to be a good accompaniment to some risky times on the mountain. Be warned, just listening to this buccaneer ballad may make give you the uncontrollable urge to work the word “Arrr” into your speech that day.

Steve Earle, Johnny Come Lately
It may be sung by an American about the Battle of Britain, but this song comes off about as Irish as it gets. It helps that this was tune is being backed by the Pogues, who lend some of their distinctive Irish folk signature to Earle’s inspiring lyrics. “Johnny Come Lately” has a sobering message to take in later, but for your purposes it offers a light-hearted soundtrack to propel you down the mountain, and a fine drinking song for any celebration that follows.

The Tossers, The Irish Rover
This band from Chicago shares a similar sound with Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphy’s, who they’ve toured with, although the Tossers predates both of them. This raucous song defies you to sit still, daring you to race down the slopes as fast as you can. Tuning into the lyrics can also be dangerously inspiring. “I’m a Rover drunk or sober, I go trampling this world over,” this singer declares, capturing the restless spirit of many wild skiers and snowboarders.

Mahones, Drunken Lazy Bastard
A typical Irish song declaring the destructive yet addictive times resulting from a night of hard drinking, this ballad’s steady beat and jaunty tune is likely to make you want to step dance as much as ski. The band’s founder hails from Ireland, although he now lives in Canada. Years after rocking their first St. Paddy’s party, the band is finally gaining recognition, being recently hailed by Sirius as the best indie punk band.

Blaggards, Big Strong Man
Led by a native of Dublin and heavily influenced by metal bands, this Houston band is the pride of the Irish populace in Texas’s largest metropolis. “Big Strong Man” is an old tune that was popular among WWII Canadian soldiers and describes a man named Sylveste who accomplishes incredible feats. Looks like the Irish were ahead of the times, considering most modern rap songs are just extended brag sheets. This boastful tune is the perfect choice for the skier and snowboarder who also thinks themselves capable of anything.

Fiddler’s Green, The Night Pat Murphy Died
This band is German but nevertheless plays Irish folk as well as any native of the Emerald Isle. Here they take on an old classic song that references Murphy’s friends attending his Irish wake. If you think a song about a death will be a morbid affair, you don’t know how the Irish give each other a sendoff. Listening to this devilish tune describing the celebration at Pat’s memorial will not only drive you down the snowy trails, it’ll cause you to seriously consider adding an open bar to your own funeral.

Waterboys, Raggle Taggle Gypsy
This band is better known for “Fisherman’s Blues” and “The Whole of the Moon,” but this song has a lot more kick to get your blood pumping while careening down the hill. The song concerns a woman who runs off the join the gypsies, but its real power is more in its toe-tapping rhythm than its lyrics. Besides, this song kinda cheats with the rhymes by adding the letter “O” to every other line. Nevertheless, it’s a distinctly Celtic song that will inspire you to try something out of the ordinary.

If you’re a veteran of the mountain, these tunes should provide an appropriate soundtrack to tearing up some powder. If you’re a beginner, you may struggle with your balance as much as your buddies celebrating St. Paddy’s the traditional way do, but these classics should give you the motivation to keep the party going. After all, if any one understands what it’s like to fall down and keep getting up again, it’s the Irish.

10 Beyond Weird Winter Sports

Most winter sports seem to have been designed by a madman. After all, what rational person would think to strap blades or boards to their feet and careen down an icy slope? But believe it or not, snow sports can get even crazier. Here’s a few winter events that will make you questions the participants’ insanity, but perhaps want to join them all the same.

Skijoring©istockphoto/proxyminderFrom the Norwegian word for “ski driving,” skijoiring is when a particularly brave or foolhardy skiier is towed by a horse, dogs, or a vehicle. Sometimes participants will mix in jumps and slaloms while being pulled. A special harness with quick release buckles can be used, or participants may hold onto a handle similar to that used in water skiing. So if you have snow, skis, and a fast dog, horse, or car, you don’t need a mountain to go fast. You’ll need a good helmet though—a fall looks like it could be wicked.

Shovel and Wok Racing

Have you ever looked at the shovel in your garage, or the wok in your kitchen, and said, I should ride that down a hill? Yeah, me neither, but the participants of this sports think a little different than you and I. Simply put, participants replace a sled with a shovel or wok, riding down a snowy hill or icy track. Shovel racing was once in the Winter X-Games, but removed due to safety conncerns. Yeah, this was deemed too dangerous for the X-Games. So give it a shot knowing it scared the same people that promote snowmobile backflips

Yukigassen\This sport, Japanese for “snow battle,” takes snowball fights to the level of professional warfare. Two teams with seven players are each given 90 snow balls, placed on a small court, then go about bombarding each other. Players attempt to capture their opponent’s flag and are eliminated when hit. Players will wear special helmet and face shields to protect them from the projectiles, and will often employ snow barriers. And you thought you took snowball fights seriously as a kid.

Ice Blockingice blockingYou don’t necessarily need winter to play this sport, because you bring the ice with you. The sport is essentially sledding, except participants slide down a hill with nothing but a big block of ice to ride on. Some will place burlap over the ice as a crude seat, or freeze a rope handle into the ice block to hold onto during their descent. The sport is popular on college campuses, because few old people would think of riding a cold, top-heavy ice block down a grassy hill. As a plus, though, no other sports equipment is probably so easily disposed of. When you’re done, leave your sled to melt, or just pop the remains in your cooler.

Ice DivingIce_Diving_2Perhaps you’ve heard of the polar bear plunge, where men dive into near freezing water. Ice diving escalates the craziness by scuba diving into frozen lakes or rivers. Because most of the water surface is frozen, there is typically only one entry and exit point for divers, increasing the danger, although generally the diver is tethered for safety. Dangers can include being swept under an ice sheet and away from rescue, rising suddenly and impacting the ice surface, or even scuba equipment icing over. It may be cold comfort to those with a fear of drowning or freezing, but ice divers say the views, and the chance to go where few others have, is worth the risk.

Ski Ballet

This sport must’ve established when skiiers determined that ice skaters shouldn’t hog all the glory, or some skiiers got really drunk and decided to do some interpretive dancing. Either way, ski ballerinas perform a routine while navigating down a hill, complete with acrobatic spins, kicks, and twirls. Like ice dancing, the routine is usually performed to music, with ski ballet compositions lasting around 90 seconds. Like ice skating, a graceful partner can even be added to make it a pair event. The sport has mostly died off, but that’s no reason not to try it yourself. It’s guaranteed to turn some heads at the ski resort this winter—for better or worse.

Speed Flying

A combination of extreme sports, speed riders start as skiiers, and end as skydivers. That’s right, skiiers will start at the top of the mountain, then launch themselves off a cliff, parachuting to the bottom. As they approach the cliff, riders will launch the parachute, or speed wing, and glide for several minutes before touching down. So if you want a sport that makes you feel like you’re James Bond escaping pursuers, this could be right up your alley.

Ice Cross Downhill

Speed skating is impressive, but how about adding some gravity? Ice cross downhill is a race down a steep, icy walled track with sharp turns and high vertical drops. Racers need to be fast, but also tough, so ice hockey players are common competitors. The sport has a popular world tour called Crashed Ice, where crowds gather to watch racers jostle their way down an ice chute set up in the middle of a city. It may technically be a race, but as the name suggests, a lot of these fans would probably prefer witnessing an epic crash rather than a photo-finish.

Ice Climbing©istockphoto/AlexSavaRegular rock climbing isn’t dangerous enough for you? Why don’t we make the vertical surface freezing-cold, slippery, and easily breakable? That must’ve been the thought process behind the inventor of ice climbing, where athletes scale steep frozen waterfalls or ice-covered rock faces. An axe and crampon are often utilized, and a safety rope, because this sports offers few second chances. Without them, your only option for staying put on a giant wall of ice would be sticking your tongue to it.

Outhouse Races

Held during the Fur Rendezvous Festival in Alaska, outhouse races are pretty much how they sound. Participants strap skis to a homemade bathroom and push one team member, seated on their, ahem, throne, down a snowy track. Race organizers urge fun and creativity over competition, in case you were thinking of being the guy who took outhouse racing way too seriously. First place finishers get prizes, although strangely, there is nothing offered for making number two.

Check out if any of these weird winter sports are in your area this season to witness first-hand, or better yet, jump in and try them yourself. Admittedly, the participants of these sports come off a little strange, but it sure beats staying inside all winter and succumbing to cabin fever. Getting outdoors and trying something crazy may just be what keeps you sane in the end.