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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 the best 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. The committee are delighted that Joe will be officially opening the summer school this year. Joe, from Aghamore, is one of the best known figures on the traditional music scene in Mayo, both as a musician and a broadcaster. His musical connections with Tubbercurry go back a long way. He recalls playing in the Mayqueen Lounge on the square many years ago when Peter Horan and the late Fred Finn were the mainstay of sessions on Saturday nights.

This year’s series of afternoon talks also includes a presentation on the life and music of the late Andy McGann by his friend and fellow musician, Joe Burke. Born and raised in New York to Sligo parents, Andy McGann became one of the key figures in traditional Irish music in the United States. In 1965, Andy, Joe Burke and Felix Dolan recorded the album ‘A Tribute to Michael Coleman’. More than forty years later, on April 1st 2006 in the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, Joe Burke, Felix Dolan and Brian Conway performed together in a concert titled ‘A Tribute to Andy McGann, honouring a great musician and friend who had passed away on July 14th 2004. Joe’s presentation is eagerly awaited.

Nightly concerts and recitals featuring summer school tutors and local and visiting musicians take place in the Marist Hall – acoustically, a great setting for a listening audience. For the past number of years the Monday night concert, which takes place in St. Attracta’s Community School, 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, email or look up the summer school website:

Permalink - Posted: March 18, 2008 at 10:13 am