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!