Program 318: Basque Country; Irish Song

Release Date: 03-16-2013

On Air Description

You'll encounter one of the oldest cultures in Europe along the Atlantic coast of Spain and France.  On this week's Travel with Rick Steves, we explore the sites and culture of Basque Country, with two guides who have deep family roots in the region. 

And we'll look at the power of music in Ireland, where nearly every town comes with its own special song.   We'll hear how traditional ballads connect the Irish with their history, and with one other.   

Celebrate Spring and Saint Patrick's Day, with time-honored, old world style, on the next Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

Remember that if your station will be conducting additional fundraising during Travel with Rick Steves, beyond using the customary fundraising modules we provide, you can contact producer Tim Tattan for suggested cutaway cues during any week's edition of Travel with Rick Steves.  This will give you additional fundraising time, and clean ins and outs, while retaining most of the weekly show. 


  • Agustín Ciriza, tour guide from San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain
  • Francisco Glária, tour guide from Pamplona, Spain
  • Liam O'Riordan, tenor from Blarney, County Cork, Ireland
  • Stephen McPhilemy, tour guide from Derry, Northern Ireland

Related Links


  • Family is touring the Basque country of Spain and France this year for three weeks. "What are some places and sights we should not miss?" (Lynn in Olympia, Washington)
  • Will be in Provence (in June), and interested in a short trip to the Basque region. Looking for advice for a short visit. (James in Palm Desert, California)
  • "At the recommendation of our hotel owner, we visited Hondarribia in Basque country last March. During our visit, there was a small parade passing through this wonderful seaside community. The people were all wearing colorful 'dunce-like' hats, with cowbells on their backs that rang as they bounced. We never learned what the purpose of the parade was, since it was over nearly as quickly as it started." (Kent in Tulsa, Oklahoma) 

Incidental Music

  • Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa, "Sinfonía sobre cantos vascos: I. Primer tiempo (Beltran de Pagola)," Beltran Pagola / Claves
  • Claudio Colombo, "Septième Ordre: VI: La Basque (Couperin)," Francois Couperin: Le 27 ordres pour piano, vol. 2 (ordres 5-9) / (self released)
  • Jimmy Bidaurrota, "Exotic Urbanen Bezpera," Hotsak Danzan 2 (EP) / Gaztelupeko Hotsak
  • * Enrique Ugarte, "Donastiako-Iru-Damatxo," Music of the Basques (collection) / Arc
  • Juan Mari Beltran and Joxan Goikoetxea, "Egurraren Kanta," The Big Bang (collection) / Ellipsis Arts
  • Iñaki Salvador, "Zure Begiek," Zilbor Hestea / Elkar
  • Chorale Ibaï Gorri and Groupe Vocal Lagun Arteak, "Farandole d'irrintzina (atzo atzo)," Chants profounds du pays basque / Arion
  • Bizardunak, "Nafarroa Gure Aberria," Bizardunak / Brian's Records
  • * William J. Mullaly, "The Green Groves of Erin," From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (collection) / Rounder (recorded in 1926)
  • Portions of traditional Irish songs sung by Liam and Stephen are "At the Dawning of the Day," "The Boys of Fair Hill," "Johnny Jump Up," "The Foggy Dew," "Go On Home British Soldiers," and "Danny Boy."
  • David Russell, "Whiskey, You're the Devil," The Emerald Isles (collection) / Telarc
  • Intro to John McCormack, "The Kerry Dance," Songs of my Heart / EMI Classics
  • Tom Morrison, "Dunmore Lassies," From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (collection) / Rounder (recorded in 1927)
  • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, cond., "Irish Tune from County Derry (Danny Boy)," The Emerald Isles (collection) / Telarc

Dated References

  • The airdate of program #318 is timed to coincide with end of winter celebrations referred to in the segment B part of the Basque Country interview, and the segment B feature and segment C interviews which correspond with Saint Patrick's Day observances.
  • Starting at 10:55, Agustin says residents in the French Basque Country often hold more demonstrations and displays of their Basque culture than in the Spanish Basque Country, where many remember being suppressed by the Franco dictatorship in the mid-20th century. He adds that ETA was formed to fight General Franco's rules, and that any ETA activity in France was as a safe haven for the Spanish insurgents.
  • At 13:10, Agustin says it's been more than three years since there have been any ETA-instigated violence or terrorist acts, resulting now in more open displays of Basque flags and cultural identity.
  • Caller Kent says, at 26:20, that he was in Basque Country "last March," and describes the seasonal Joaldunak processions.