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41ú Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy

Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, July 6th–14th, 2013

The 41st annual Willie Clancy Summer School will be officially opened by Orlaith McBride, Director of The Arts Council, on Saturday evening, July 6th. This will mark the beginning of a week long run of organised events featuring tuition, lectures, recitals, concerts and céilithe, around which a web of informal music sessions will evolve, creating the dynamic festival atmosphere that is part of the Willie Clancy week.

Helen Lawlor’s book on the history of the Irish harp, Irish Harping 1900–2010, was published by Four Courts Press in 2012. The harp has moved into the mainstream of the tradition in recent years and there is a growing interest in the instrument at the school. An indication of its increasing popularity was the large and enthusiastic audience that attended the harp recital last year, the first time such a recital was held at the school. Helen Lawlor will examine the role of the harp in traditional music in the opening lecture, The harp that once now dances a jig: the Irish harp 1900 –2010, on Saturday evening.

On Monday afternoon Francis Devine will survey the songs, stories and poetry associated with the 1913 strike and lockout in Dublin. Francis Devine is a trade union activist, labour historian, poet and singer who has extensively researched and written about this period in Irish history. Máire O’Keeffe, fiddler and traditional music historian, will analyse the fiddle music of West Clare on Wednesday afternoon. A tutor at the school for many years, Máire recorded the older West Clare fiddlers (most now deceased) and she will be drawing on this comprehensive archive for her talk.

On Thursday, Charlie Piggott, founder member of the group De Danann and co–author with Fintan Vallely of Blooming Meadows: the world of Irish traditional musicians, will assess the music of accordionist Joe Cooley and the early Tulla Céilí band.

Tuesday afternoon will see musicians, singers and dancers pay tribute to local piper, singer, tin whistle and flute player, Michael Falsey. He was a close friend of Willie Clancy and, as a young lad, knew the renowned travelling piper, Johnny Doran, who frequently visited West Clare. Michael won several national Fleadh titles in the 1960’s. He is also very knowledgeable on local history, folklore and place–names. The tribute will be facilitated by his friend and fellow musician, Mick O’Connor.

Éirinn is Alba is the title of a concert on Sunday 8th which celebrates the strong links between the school and Gaelic Scotland. This concert, featuring leading Scots and Irish traditional artists, will be broadcast live by RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. During the week there will be recitals on all the instruments taught at the School as well as a traditional singing recital in Irish and English and a dancing exhibition featuring old–style step dancing, Conamara sean–nós dance, and set dancing. The céilithe will run all week with some of the best céilí bands in the country providing the pace and rhythms for set dancers.

Oineach Mhuiris Uí Róchain, the Muiris Ó Rócháin Family Scholarship, was inaugurated in 2012 to commemorate the late co–founder and long–time programme director of the Willie Clancy Summer School. Sponsored by the summer school, and administered by Na Píobairí Uilleann, the scholarship covers tuition and accommodation, and is offered to a family whose members show exceptional talent and promise as traditional musicians. The provision of this scholarship is a proper tribute to Muiris Ó Rócháin and further illustrates the school’s commitment to its core objective, namely, the promotion of the study and practice of Irish traditional music, an objective clearly enunciated by the founders back in 1973 and consistently sustained by the organisers over the decades.

Details of the scholarship and application forms may be had by contacting Na Píobairí Uilleann at 15 Henrietta St Dublin 1; Tel:01–8730093; Email:

For further information and updates on the Willie Clancy Summer School programme and available accommodation in the Miltown Malbay area see

Permalink - Posted: March 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm