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The 22nd Year, 13th – 19th July 2008

Nestled at the foot of the Ox Mountains, the south Sligo town of Tubbercurry is the setting for the 22nd South Sligo Summer School of traditional music, song & dance this July.

Classes are held each morning in several traditional instruments including fiddle, flute, harp, concertina, uilleann pipes, traditional guitar, banjo, bodhrán and piano and button accordians. A tinwhistle masterclass is a very popular feature of the school as are the masterclasses in the South Sligo styles of both fiddle and flute playing. Singing classes in sean nós and traditional styles are very popular and so too are the set dancing classes under the expert tuition of Pat Murphy & Betty McCoy and the daily afternoon sean nós dancing class ably taught by Brenda O’Callaghan.

Dancers have a full program of nightly céilís to look forward to with a great variety of bands from all corners of the country, including the locally based Swallow’s Tail Céilí Band, who will play on the opening night, and the Dublin based Brian Ború Céilí Band, who will play for the closing céilí on Saturday, 19th July.

Daily lectures and talks are an established feature of the summer school and topics will be as varied and interesting as ever this year. The music and musicians of Doocastle and Carracastle will be the focus of one of the talks this year, to be presented by researcher and radio presenter Joe Byrne.

Nightly concerts and recitals featuring summer school tutors and local and visiting musicians are very popular and avid local and visiting listeners alike gather together for a few hours each evening to hear some wonderful traditional tunes and songs. There is nothing to match the magic that happens when two or more people who may or may not have known one another previously get together to play a set of tunes and they just click and make great music in a setting where the active listener can catch every nuance of their playing and singing.

For the past number of years the Monday night concert has been held in honour of a local musician or group of musicians who have made a special contribution to the summer school and/or the musical heritage of County Sligo. This year is no exception and the committee are delighted to be honouring flute and whistle player and singer Harry McGowan at this year’s summer school. Harry, from Carrowmore, at the foot of Knocknashee, a few miles north of Tubbercurry, is a musician and traditional singer of the highest calibre. Harry’s generosity in sharing his musical talent and his love and knowledge of his musical heritage with students and visiting musicians at the summer school over the years has been unfaltering. Harry McGowan is held in the highest esteem in traditional circles and among the whole community of South Sligo and beyond and it is with great pride and pleasure that the committee look forward to honouring him at this year’s summer school.

Situated as it is on the N17, many musicians pass through Tubbercurry on a regular basis throughout the year, whether travelling south towards Galway and beyond or northwards into Sligo town and on up to Donegal or Derry. Many of them stop for a while in Tubbercurry to break the journey and catch up with friends and acquaintances they have met through music over the years. During the week of the South Sligo Summer School in particular you just never know who you might spot playing in a session or chatting to fellow musicians on a corner of the square and this is part of the charm and musical richness of the summer school and good enough reason, if you have not already done so, to check it out in this, its 22nd year.

For more information please ring 00-353-71-9120912 or email You can also check the summer school website at where the full program of events for the week will soon be made available.

Permalink - Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:39 am