10 July 2010

Traditional Irish Music Festival

The Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Ireland's largest traditional music summer school, held annually since 1973 in memory of the piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance. In addition, a full program of lectures, recitals, dances (céilithe) and exhibitions are run by the summer school. All events are held in and near Miltown Malbay in County Clare starting on the first Saturday in July. Lectures, recitals, concert and céilithe are open to the public (that would be me!).

Afternoons and evenings are spontaneous gatherings of the musicians young and old to jam together. Visitors go from pub to pub (or hotel or hall) in search of the music they like best and then stay to enjoy the sessions. The respect of young people for the elders and of the elders for the new ones coming up is evident and infectious. They all play together which seems such a rare but altogether wonderful treat. Anyone and everyone is expected to lead a tune in his or her turn and the others follow their lead.

I went to the couple's Set Dancing one day. That's couples dancing typical dances to the music of ceili bands. The bands delight setting the pace for these complex but fun dances and dancers feed off their energy and incite a good band to be even better. It can get pretty wild with the floor packed with sets of 4 couples in each group and dozens of groups.

You can get an idea of the energy! I found out that there are classes to learn the dozens of dances or at least get started learning, so next year, I have a goal! I had a lesson (thanks, Aidan) to learn one of the basic steps that I need to know to learn a dance. That video is below and a photo. I had a great time, though, so I'm definitely in for classes. I think it'll be a long process!


  1. Well, Look at you! How awesome can you be?! That sounds like SO much fun and I can't wait to see/hear the video!
    It sounds so delightful and quite inspiring. Apparently it was, too. You were inspired to take lessons to learn the dances!

  2. I know and the video I can't upload is even awesomer! It was fun and I'm looking forward to really dancing.

  3. You look like you are both having so much fun! I can't wait to see the video.


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