Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran

Hi, all!

This is kind of an informal blog post, but ever since it’s started trending, I can’t stop thinking about Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” and was hoping people might have thoughts. The first time I heard it, I was immediately struck by the opening lyrics, “She played the fiddle in an Irish band, / but she fell in love with an English man.” In some regards, I was interested in the power dynamics at play: what does it mean that an “English man” (i.e., Ed Sheeran) is portraying a woman from Ireland through an “Irish sounding,” fiddle-esque song? How does that reflect on [In listening more, I was intrigued by the notion of “Galway Girl,” particularly in regards to the traditional relationship with Ireland and femininity. To some extent, the relationship seems to be reflective of a heteronormative relationship between Sheeran and a woman, but it also seems that the evocation of the trope of the “Irish woman” is intriguing. I was also really interested in how it limited Galway to a scene of drunken debauchery in a pub and what that might mean about Ireland on the whole: is it positively conveying jubilee in a happy moment that happens to surround drinking? Or, because it’s written by an Englishman, might it be negatively limiting external understandings of Galway to scenes of drinking? I guess the last thing I was wondering was, could this song qualify as a form of cultural appropriation? Is it cultural appreciation? Generally, I feel like as an American, the cultural appropriation I’m more immediately confronted with and shocked by is perpetrated against POC and others who are continually disenfranchised; however, in recognizing the cultural context of this song particularly, I was interested in the potential colonial history and historical disrespect of Ireland by the English which may be worth investigating further. Again, I realize the song is positioned as a fairly specific, singular experience, and extrapolating information based off of it might be unjustified, but it could also be a source of productive conversation.

If you haven’t heard the song or seen the music video, you can check it out here:

Again, sorry if this is somewhat disjointed. I’ve been thinking a lot about this song recently, and I don’t have any answers really, but I was curious about what other people thought!

One thought on “Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran

  1. Of course, Sheeran himself comes from an Irish background, as his name suggests, on his father’s side. Does this change the calculus at all? I agree entirely about the way that the image of the Galway girl herself replicates the image of Ireland as female. Galway is also a famous source of songs and “craic”; there’s a very famous song called Galway Bay.

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