Posts Tagged With: Achill

Here today, gone tomorrow? The reappearing beach at Dooagh, Achill.

Achill, Acaill, Ecaill, Eccuill, Akill, Akle, The Aukilles.

These are some of the names recorded historically for Achill Island in West Mayo. The original meaning of the name however is unknown.  This is perhaps fitting as the Island itself is somewhat enigmatic.  I am constantly surprised, as I was on my most recent visit in July 2017.

Dooagh is one of a number of pretty villages on the island.  It has variously prospered and faded over recent centuries.  It became a hub when it received villagers who abandoned their homes in Slievemore during the mid 19th century.   The village is nestled on the Atlantic shore and its wellbeing has always been connected with the sea.  Fishing, seaweed and the hotels and guest houses that lined its sandy beach.  Then in 1984 the sand disappeared.  A wild storm stripped it away to the bare rock.  The decades passed and Dooagh had resigned itself to its beach’s fate until in April 2017 the sand returned.

Dooagh beach 1

The world went just a little mad, but this is a  perfectly natural event and has apparently occurred many times before.  John O’Shea, who has lived in a house on the beach for 46 years explained “When the wind is up north the sand builds up, when the wind’s sou’ west the sand goes out.”  It happens with Keel, Dooagh and Keem Bay, he said, and it happens regularly.  But this time seems to be different. The story has gone global.   John has had phone calls from Texas, Netherlands, New Zealand asking what’s going on.  A group of Chinese came – they didn’t want to see the Cliffs of Moher they wanted to see the New Beach!  Irish Times reported it and since then the story has spread.  Al Jaziera, The Times and more recently the Guardian did a six page spread.

Dooagh beach 3

IG3C3576

A particularly high tide and favourable marine conditions along with the northerly winds has brought back the sand and boulders that had been waiting below the low tide mark.  The world has taken notice and the tourists have come.

Beaches are a dynamic environment.  Man’s desire to live close to the beach creates conflicts that are often resolved by serious intervention in the natural process.  Huge quantities of rock are sometimes dumped to protect buildings or infrastructure and prevent erosion of the land and sometimes sand is ‘shifted’ from elsewhere to maintain  a ‘beach’.

IG3C3573

What has happened in Dooagh however shows that if we just leave things alone, Nature will find a way to restore equilibrium.  Beaches disappear.  And they come back.  We should celebrate with the people of Achill the return of  its sixth beach and hope that it lasts a long time.  But if it doesn’t last and the tides and winds sweep it away, we should celebrate that too.  These natural rhythms are on a planetary time scale and rarely on a human one.

Please take note Mr Trump.

Dooagh beach 2

 

Categories: My Journey, Real Ireland, Wild Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is a beach. Keel is a beach.

My camera and I spent a few hours on the strand at Keel on Achill Island in Co.  Mayo.  I thought I would share some of those moments with my blog readers,

Life is a beach
Keel is a beach
Keel is Life
Keel is sand, sun, grass, clouds and mountains
Keel is hitting a ball
Keel is walking or running
Keel is reading and thinking
Keel is wheels
Keel is long shadows
Keel is a dune of cobbles
Keel is lost in clouds
Keel is reflections
Keel is people
Keel is light

IG3C2321

Keel is sand sun grass cloud and mountains

 

IG3C2352

Keel is hitting a ball

 

IG3C2523

Keel is walking

IG3C2544

Keel is running

 

IG3C2577

Keel is reading

IG3C2407

Keel is wheels I

IG3C2415

Keel is wheels II

IG3C2552

Keel is long shadows I

IG3C2596

Keel is long shadows II

IG3C2470

Keel is a dune of cobbles

IG3C2693

Keel is lost in clouds I

IG3C2720

keel is lost in clouds II

IG3C2604

Keel is reflections

IG3C2499_1

Keel is people

 

IG3C2715

Keel is light

 

 

 

Categories: My Journey, Real Ireland, Wild Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Achill Island – a story of butterfly collections, Jehova’s Witnesses and old postcards.

During late July I spent a week on Achill Island in the west of Co Mayo. My reason for being there of course was music, a Summer School called Scoil Achla. This was my third time and I have spoken at length about it in my previous blogs. Indeed raved about it, so I won’t repeat that here. Just type Achill into the search box!  This time though I didn’t attend classes and to say I needed a break after the summer touring would be putting it too mildly. This was the perfect place to spend time away from the music but to have it on tap at the same time. At least that was my intention.

After my previous visits I thought I knew Achill. But what I discovered here was another Achill, not the one I had written about before. Oh that was all here too, the wonderful music and the undeniable beauty of this place as a Summer holiday destination.  So let’s get that over with.  Here are some shots that showcase Achill Island.  Hopefully you will hop onto the internet, book your accommodation and plan your trip as soon as possible.  But before you do read on……

IG3C5841IG3C5882IG3C6351IG3C6045IG3C4654

This time I got to know the people.  I met some genuine Achill characters, people that shape the place now and reflect where it has come from.  In particular there was John O’Shea, quintessentially Ireland and quintessentially Achill. A more delightful person you will struggle to meet. He lives in the appropriately named “Beach House” and he welcomes you to his house with his whole being. Never short of a quip, or a quick riposte, or a yarn he would entertain and educate for hours given the chance. I was introduced by a friend and we connected straight away. He has a passionate interest in the history of Achill and collects photos, postcards, books and ephemera relating to this. This parallels my own interest in the early history of the Goldfields of Western Australia as well as our similar collecting interests.

IG3C4821IG3C4804IG3C4788

So I spent quite a bit of time in his home as he generously allowed me to view his collections and we swapped stories.  He talked of the original settlement and the sale of the Island to the Rev Nangle and the establishment of the first village. Paintings by Alexander Williams and postcards dating  from 1903 to the First World War speak eloquently of an Achill which though much has disappeared is readily identifiable today. IG3C4770IG3C4778

One story that stuck with me was of a cruel landlord. Many of his tenants were killed in a tragic accident that took 25 lives. Because these families had lost their breadwinners and could not pay the rent they were evicted. This was 1847! in the height of the famine. He showed me a wooden bowl and a spoon made of horn, from this time, used to eat soup. This puts stories like this into harsh reality.IG3C6257

John is a truly charming man with a great line of patter and is quite one with the ladies. He is legendary for inviting visitors to the island to view his ‘butterfly collection’.  So for his 77th birthday his many friends on the island got together and created a butterfly collection for him. Each butterfly is cleverly designed to tell a story and is an individual work of art and he now proudly displays his ‘real’ butterfly collection.IG3C4755IG3C4744

He is also a man of spirit, a spirit I suspect comes from a harsh life in a remote place. He single handedly appealed a decision of his home insurers following their refusal to pay for storm damage and has taken it all the way to the High Court where he has tasted victory against the whole legal system railed against him. What we would call an Aussie Battler.

A lasting memory for me was of how he handled a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses at his front door. They arrived moments after me so I was standing in the foyer listening. There was a father and his daughter. Two other daughters in the car if they needed the heavy artilery. They said they were from Germany but initially didn’t say what they wanted. The man’s first question to John was whether he had a God. A man of faith, John answered he did. “Does your God have a name?” John was well aware where they were headed and he dodged around the answer, quoting passages from the Bible, which completely threw the evangelist’s well rehearsed patter. The man was searching for passages to respond with on his tablet (that’s the android version not one of stone!) but was not able to recover. At the same time he charmed the daughter with handshakes and blessings and she could do nothing but smile. He had them on the ropes now as he asked whether they were Jehovah’s Witnesses knowing full well they were. When they affirmed, “Yes”, he said, “I have read the Watchtower and I think you have a different view of God to me”.  As the man tried to fight back then came the knock-out punch. “I’m so sorry I don’t have time to talk with you, my Australian cousin is here”.  I bet they don’t meet many like that.

IG3C5605

There were so many highlights of my time on Achill. Here are a few that randomly jumped into my brain

  • Having a sean nós dancing lesson in one of the local pubs, from Pauline, a local artist and then being joined by some random punters for an impromptu performance.

    IG3C5456

  • Fired up by this I then did two proper sean nós dance workshops offered by the School. Thanks Pauline for dragging me along.

  • And then a bit of a dance on Keel Beach.IG3C6400
  • The Red Fox Gallery and Press and Frances and Antic-Ham who run it. Two people in such obvious harmony and in harmony with their special place over looking Doogart. Francis collects polaroid cameras and they produce the most stunning Polaroid photography and art in book form.IG3C5493

  • A walk on Keem Beach, one of the most beautiful in IrelandIG3C4870IG3C4910aIG3C5206

  • The constant mist that hangs over the hills; lifts like a dancer lifting her skirt and just as quickly letting it fall.  And occasionally she puts on a spectacular show in the evening light.  IG3C4617IG3C5555IG3C5469IG3C6091IG3C5549IG3C6301IG3C5313

  • Impromptu sessions in quiet pubs.

  • Noisy sessions in packed pubsIG3C5411IG3C5410IG3C5414IG3C5349

  • A lovely vegetarian meal with my new friends at Pauline’s house with views over Keel and then songs and tunesIG3C6282IG3C629413918672_10153802382657634_1999679985_o

  • Hot soup in the Beehive CaféIG3C6106

  • the labyrinth at the end of Keel beach. Mirroring the twists and turns of life and our endeavours to reach the centre.  IG3C6442IG3C6430

  • The evening light turning the cliffs yellow and red and reflecting on the shallow strand.IG3C6321IG3C5908IG3C5920IG3C5930IG3C5947

  • Fish and chips for my birthday at Geilty’s Pub. The best I have tasted in Ireland.  And at the same meal, my introduction to banoffee!

  • Nutella and banana pancakes sold from a caravan at the camping ground at Keel. No pictures sorry.  Too busy scoffing them down.
  • The sound of Paul Dooley’s Brian Boru harp,  Absolutely entrancing to all ages….IG3C5685a

  • Brendan Begley singingIG3C5579

  • Sessions in the Wave Crest Hotel, which only opens for the Scoil Acla week.IG3C5595

  • The Richview Hostel and the many international visitors who inhabited it

  • A swim in Keel Beach with Bridge and Siofra. Everyone else was wearing wetsuits! Still can’t believe I did that.13879371_1016935231760452_1295093538081463806_n

  • And I was still talking to Bridge afterwards so it was pizza with them at Pure Magic CafeIG3C5545

  • A visit to the workshop of Johnny Butler who took the time to show me how Uilleann pipes were made. A true craftsman.

  • A couple of hours at the Inishbiggle Festival including tunes in the tent and skipping rope.

Actually there’s a whole lot more but that gives you the gist.  I have said enough.  If you have lasted this long then you deserve a medal.  Achill is a special place and a special time.

 IG3C6048IG3C6055

Categories: Festivals, Real Ireland, Stories, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Irish Music Summer Schools and Scoil Acla

For the last forty years one of the great fixtures of the Irish summer is the Irish traditional music school. There is a now well-worn trail that starts with the Willie Clancy School in Milltown Malbay in the first week of July and then moves  to Tubbercurry in South Sligo and then to Drumshanbo in Lietrim and, if you are still up for it, to Achill in the last week of July. And of course you can go on back to Clare to Feakle which is a shortened version and a number of other weekends in late Summer and indeed right through the year. Not everyone goes to them all so I think I am in the rather unique position of having been to each of the big ones twice now.
Each summer school has its own personality and it is meaningless to say which is best because they all deliver something different. They are all structured around five or six days of classes with three hours a day. Tutors are often world class musicians and the classes are nominally graded. I say ‘nominally’ because the grading process is largely fairly haphazard. At some, such as Willie Week, you are auditioned and are placed in a supposedly appropriate class. At others they ask you how many years’ experience you have and base it on that. Some let you choose your tutor. In any case most schools then allow you to change to whichever teacher you want. So it can be fairly random. Not a perfect system and sometimes it can lead to individual frustrations but for the most part it works and I should say that mixing adults and kids doesn’t worry me as the younger ones are often much quicker to pick up tunes.
People go to the schools with different objectives. Many just go to learn tunes – the more the better. And some teachers oblige. Other tutors talk about their approach to the music or focus on technical aspects or rhythm or bowing or some other detail. These are the ones I like most. One school I attended earlier this year in Ballyferriter we had Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh who worked for the whole workshop on one note, dealing with dynamics, tone and expression. I got so much from that. But on the other hand learning lots of tunes by ear is a great discipline and that’s what I got at Scoil Acla (more later).
First of course was Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy set up in 1973 to honour the contribution of the extraordinary piper, Willie Clancy. After a slow start it gathered momentum to become the premium music school in the country with now over 1200 students each year. Fiddle alone attracts 450 students and there are 26 tutors. Right from the start the teachers have been of the highest quality and people come from all over the world to be there. Very quickly it also became a meeting place for musicians and sessions were legendary. Many of the local pubs in Miltown Malbay and surrounding villages have become institutions. Pubs such as Friels, Queeley’s, the Blondes (Cleary’s), Crosses of Anagh, Gleeson’s, McCarthy’s and more. Some of these have unfortunately gone. This model was used for all the other schools which came later and most also attract musicians, listeners, and dancers who are not attending classes. This turns the School into a Festival and there are often concerts, recitals, talks, cd launches and a formal or informal session trail. The quality of sessions at the Schools is highly variable and ranges from messy to brilliant and many of the small villages just do not have enough pubs to accommodate the influx.  I will talk about this another time.
For now though I would like to focus on Achill which is actually quite unique as a result of its special location and character .
Achill Island is in the west of Mayo and is just an hour from Westport and easy to reach over a bridge from the mainland. This connection detracts a little from that wonderful feeling of isolation that you get by taking a boat such as to the Arran Islands but once you are there you are ensnared by the charms of the place. It is the perfect location for a Summer School. It is a Gaeltacht and so Irish (the unique Achill dialect) is spoken everywhere, it is starkly scenic in that west coast sort of way. There are hills, lakes, beaches, oh and sheep. Any place that gives right of way to sheep has to be special!
The school in its current incarnation has been going 30 years but actually dates back to 1910 making it one of the oldest in the country. Classes are held in all popular instruments at beginner and advanced level as well as Irish language (Gaelig’ Acla), sean nos singing and dancing, set dancing, creative writing and, believe it or not, one of the most popular classes, basket weaving. Venues are spread out and students worry about how they will get there but they do and miraculously it all works.
The school is run by a dedicated committee of locals, much as a church fete, and as I say you wonder how it all comes together; but it does. I guess they’ve had thirty years to get it right. Just a few people running around madly make it all happen. I didn’t meet everyone on the committee but the few I did such as Diarmid Gielty and Orla and Siobhan McGinty throw themselves into it wholeheartedly. They are involved also in the teaching and bring a personal touch. I saw Orla sit with a young concertina player in a session for at least an hour coaxing and coaching her through the tunes and settling her nerves. This to me was the Spirit of Scoil Acla.
It is a great way to combine music with an holiday. In fact after the daily workshop there are no organised events so depending on the weather you can swim at Keel Beach or Keem Strand, or walk through the deserted village or climb Slievemore or explore the tiny hamlets, or visit megalithic monuments or practice fiddle or sleep. Or meet up with some fellow students for some quiet tunes. Then the challenge of the evening is to find a session. There are only three venues but they are spread out and you do need to plan or have a car. But then you can luck in. You often have to rely on intelligence (I have my network of spies now) so I was lucky with a session of locals including four pipers at Lynagh’s (a tiny one room pub well out of town which fills pretty quickly and when there is a session musicians take up most of the seating!).  There is a traditional Bb session at the Wave Crest Hotel (a decaying symbol of former better times for tourists on the Island) led by Mick O’Brien with the likes of Harry Bradley, and a host of other pipers, A session at the Annexe with a packed bar most nights and one memorable night, following a text I received at 1230 am at Geiltys with tunes with Declan Folan, Diarmid Geilty and some world class (sic) dancing from Cormac and Brendan Begley until way after 3 am. One night I even found myself at an Italian themed party at the local hostel with the owner and his family and the extended temporary family of international residents.
But what of the School. I can’t speak for the other classes but I had a week of tutor Liam O’Connor, a powerhouse of a fiddler based in Dublin. We were learning up to four tunes a day, very quickly going through it phrase by phrase and then playing it over and over until it had sunk in. The standard of students was very high so most picked it up quickly. Some didn’t, but no one left the class. For me, I struggled last year but this year I was able to cope and I guess that’s a sign the hard work of the last year is starting to pay off. I loved it.  Then there is the traditional students concert, which I also love. An audience of adoring parents and grandparents, phones and cameras trained on the semi trailer bogey as the kids and some adults have their big day up on the stage. It is unique among the schools. Of course being Achill, despite the sunny start a storm swept through on cue, but the music continued unabated.  Check out the phot of the little red boot poking out from under the umbrella!
And finally  I should also mention the great camaraderie between visitors, musicians, locals, publicans, punters, tutors; everyone is included. Oh and a special thanks to Diarmid for finding my shoulder rest which I lost last year! Who would have thought that twelve months later it would still be sitting behind the bar.  And to all the wonderful friends I have made from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Japan, Australia and of course every corner of Ireland.
I hope these photos give you something of the Spirit of Scoil Acla and that you will make the effort to get there next year. And thanks to Nuria for the shots with me in them.

01-IMG_2869 24-IMG_3644 25-IMG_3652 07-IMG_3131 08-IMG_3134 09-IMG_3139

02-IMG_2958 03-IMG_2998 06-IMG_3128 10-IMG_3147 11-IMG_3255 12-IMG_3258 13-IMG_3278 14-IMG_3295

05-IMG_3081 04-IMG_3045 15-IMG_3348 16-IMG_3359 17-IMG_3364 18-IMG_3596

19-IMG_3590 20-IMG_3547 21-IMG_3568 22-IMG_3599 23-IMG_3606 26-IMG_3733 30-IMG_3893

31-IMG_3922 32-IMG_3937 33-IMG_3911 34-IMG_3980 35-IMG_4042 36-IMG_4050

37-IMG_4175 38-IMG_4249 39-IMG_4191 40-IMG_4327 41-IMG_4366 42-IMG_4373

43-IMG_4431 45-IMG_4478 46-IMG_4474 47-IMG_4540 48-IMG_4548

49-IMG_4560 50-IMG_4609 52-IMG_4618 54-IMG_4664

55-IMG_4699 56-IMG_4726 57-IMG_4740 58-IMG_4745 60-IMG_4812

61-IMG_4830 62-IMG_4840 63-IMG_4852 64-IMG_4891 65-IMG_4898 66-IMG_4906

67-IMG_4938 68-IMG_4955 69-IMG_4975 70-IMG_5015 71-IMG_5018 72-IMG_5020

75-IMG_5071 76-IMG_5119 77-IMG_5151 78-IMG_5155 79-IMG_5223 80-IMG_5252 81-IMG_5297 82-IMG_5352

83-IMG_5420 84-IMG_5430 85-IMG_5448 87-IMG_5474 89-IMG_5500 90-IMG_5510 27-IMG_3798 28-IMG_3831

Categories: Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

100 Nights of Sessions – 100 photos!

IMG_8105-001

Traidphicnic. Spiddal 2014. “Will I know the next tune?” Siofra Barker

Tubbercurry 2014. Alistair Cassidy. For my next trick…….

IMG_9904

Tubbercurry 2014. John Joe Kelly

IMG_9824

Tubbercurry 2014. Flute session

IMG_9805

Tubbercurry 2014. Paddy Ryan

DSC01171

Ennis 2014. Brogan’s. Yvonne Casey, Josephine Marsh and Fu Akamine.

IMG_0312

Drumshanbo 2014. Keith from Wales.

IMG_0313

Drumshanbo 2014. Albert from Barcelona

IMG_0386

Drumshanbo 2014. Caroline from France

IMG_0552

Drumshanbo 2014. Jose from Barcelona

IMG_0421

Drumshanbo 2014.

IMG_0553

Drumshanbo 2014. Concentration!

IMG_0597

Drumshanbo 2014. The kids take over the High Street.

IMG_2714

Achill Island 2014. Brendan Begley at the Valley House

IMG_3056

Feakle 2014. Fiddles!

IMG_3057

Feakle 2014. Pat O’Connor

IMG_3072

Feakle 2014. Vincent Griffin

IMG_3078

Feakle 2014. Maurice Lennon and Vincent Griffin

IMG_9863

Tubbercurry 2014. Alistair Cassidy. Snap!

IMG_9470

Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Geraldine Cotter and Kieron Hanrahan.

IMG_0415

Tubercurry 2014. Johnny Og Connolly and friends.

IMG_3121

Feakle 2014. Yvonne Kane and Cormac Begley

IMG_3122

Feakle 2014. Edel Fox, Yvonne Kane, Cormac Begley and friends

IMG_3149

Feakle 2014. Joan Hanrahan and Dympna O’Sullivan.

IMG_3153

Feakle 2014. Steve from England

IMG_3170

Feakle 2014. Eileen O’Brien

IMG_3189

Feakle 2014. Young Clare musicians

IMG_3257

Feakle 2014. Eoghan O’Sullivan, Dennis Cahill.

IMG_3260

Feakle 2014 Eileen O’Brien and Pat O’Connor

IMG_3237

Feakle 2014. Thierry Masure

IMG_3251

Feakle 2014. Antoin Mac Gabhann

IMG_3262

Feakle 2014. Dennis Cahill

IMG_3296

Feakle 2014

IMG_3606

Sligo 2014. Irish music played by Spaniards in the Itailian Quarter. Jose and Montse.

IMG_8094

Traidphicnic Spiddal. Tola Custy, Laoise Kelly and Mike McGoldrick.

IMG_8116

Traidphicnic Spiddal 2014. Magic fingers. Mike McGoldrick

IMG_9927

Tubbercurry 2014. Nicolle Figueroa Gallaga.

IMG_9848

Tubbercurry 2014. Emmy and Veronika from Netherlands

IMG_9850

Tubbercurry 2014. Rita from Switzerland

IMG_9301

Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Adam Shapiro

IMG_9213

Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Friels Hotel. Can’t compete with the World Cup and Brazil vs Germany.

IMG_8807

Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. John Rynne,

IMG_3289

Feakle 2014. Orla Harrington, Eileen O’Brien, Andrew MacNamara

IMG_9314

Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Enjoying the Craic

IMG_8114

Traidphicnic Spiddal. Tola Custy

IMG_3345

Feakle 2014 Seamus Begley at Peppers

IMG_8798

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Sean Keane

IMG_8815

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Laura Ugur and John Rynne

IMG_8896

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.

IMG_8905

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Musician’s Corner

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Gerry Harrington demonstrating the Stroh Viol to James Kelly’s fiddle class

IMG_9084

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Maurice Lennon and Sean Ryan

IMG_9864

Tubbercurry 2014. The (virtual) reality of the modern session

IMG_9808

Tubercurry 2014. Phillip Duffy

IMG_8836

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Sean Ryan

IMG_9113

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. The next generation.

IMG_9272

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Adam Shapiro and Patricia Wang

IMG_9136

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Busking in the Miltown sun

IMG_8844

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Let there be light. And there was. And it shone upon the fiddler

IMG_9353

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Fiddler

IMG_9414

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Fu Akamine and Patricia Wang

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. The genesis of a session, Coore.

IMG_9520

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Coore

IMG_9530

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Coore

IMG_8790

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Liz Coleman

IMG_8124

Traidphicnic, Spiddal. Florianne Blanke

IMG_8794

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Sean Keane, John Joe Tuttle and friends

IMG_8827

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Harry Bradley, Sean McKeown, Connie Connell.

IMG_8830

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. The front bar at Friels. Gerard Callaghan, Rick Epping (in the mirror) Mick Creehan, Mick Hand

IMG_8914

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Rick Epping, Mary Bergin, Mick Hand and Mick Creehan

IMG_8894

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.

IMG_8916

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Kevin Rowsome

IMG_8930

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Stefan, Dermie Diamond, Angela Creehan, Sinnead Nic Dhonnachadgh

IMG_9089

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Pat Mullins, Macdaragh Mac Dhonnachadgh, Maurice Lennon, Sean Ryan

IMG_9197

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. All boxed in at the Blondes.

IMG_9101

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Lorraine O’Brien, Catherine McEvoy, a bemused Jackie Daly, Aoife Granville, Niall Kenny and Conal O’Grada. Revenge of the flutes.

IMG_9604

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay, 2014. Crosses of Anagh. Alistair Cassidy and Daire Mulhern

IMG_9474

Willie Calncy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014, Street Session with Leon Agnew, Antoin Mac Gabhann and Seamus Sands

IMG_9489

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Frank Kelly and Leon Agnew

IMG_9266

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Enjoying the craic at Friels. Niamh Parsons

IMG_9484

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Antoin Mac Gabhann

IMG_9483

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Seamus Sands

IMG_9596

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Alistair Cassidy, Crosses of Anagh

IMG_9191

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. In the sunshine at the Blondes. Ciarán Mac Aodhagáin, Siún Ní Ghlacáin, Damien O’Reilly

IMG_9164

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. the Blondes.

IMG_9167

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Niall Kenny and Caitlin Ni Ghabhann, John Flynn

IMG_9182

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Caitlin Ni Gabbhan in the sunshine at Blondes

IMG_8937

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Gilles Tabary on flute

IMG_9143

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.

IMG_9365

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Aine Ni Chellaigh, Josephine Boland and Declan Fay

IMG_3196

Feakle 2014. Sorcha Costella, Brian Donnelly and Aisling Hunt.

IMG_3627

Fleadh Cheoil Sligo 2014. Street buskers

IMG_3336

Feakle 2014. Peppers – Half set dance to the music of Seamus Begley

20140816_154040

Fleadh Cheoil. Sligo 2014. Seamus Tansey at Shoot the Crows

20140815_230037

Fleadh Cheoil. Sligo 2014 Christina and Fiona from London

20140802_011934

Achill. 2014.. Brendan Begley and Harry Bradley

20140813_031301

Fleadh Cheoil Sligo 2014, Liam Kelly and Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley at Riverside Hotel.

IMG_8881a

Willie Clancy Week. Miltown Malbay. My last free Willie

IMG_8783

Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay, Geraldine and Martha Clancy at Mullagh

IMG_9307

Willie Clancy Week Miltown Malbay, 2014

IMG_9534

Willie Clancy Week Miltown Malbay 2014. James Kelly

Recently I completed my 100th continuous night of Sessions since I came to Ireland.  Not something I set out to do but over the moon that it has panned out that way. Since I started at Tullamore on 15th May and then Ennis three days later for the Fleadh Nua I have not missed a night of playing Irish music and have not felt like missing one. My hundredth night was just a lovely quiet way to ‘celebrate’ with Joan Hanrahan and friends at Kelly’s Bar in Ennis – a classic Irish Pub with a long pedigree of traditional sessions.

It would be impossible to estimate how many sessions I have participated in as on some days such as in Miltown or any of the other festival for that matter I might have played in half a dozen. Quality has been variable as you would expect but at every session I felt privileged to be there.

I have played with musicians both ‘famous’ and unheralded (but not necessarily less talented), with musicians from all over Ireland and almost every part of the globe, musicians from 8 years old to 88 and beginners and masters of the tradition. And not only players but lovers of the music who might have travelled from Cork or Canada or Sligo or Sweden to just sit and listen for hours. All brought together to share this wonderful secret we all have that is Irish music. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.

I have been to eleven festivals so far including Doolin, Willie Week, Spiddal TraidPhicnic, Tulla, Clare Fleadh at Kilaloe, Tubercurry, Drumshanbo, Achill, Feakle and the Fleadh Cheoil at Sligo. I have been to Workshops and Summer Schools and had lessons from fiddlers such as Maurice Lennon, James Kelly, Paddy Ryan, Tola Custy, Siobhan Peoples, John Daly, Liam O’Connor, Martin Hayes, Eileen O’Brien, Yvonne Kane and Yvonne Casey. So if I still can’t play the fiddle after all that then I have only myself to blame.

Whether I will continue at this pace I don’t know but for me the journey is not over and while I get something from each session I go to I will keep going.

I have put together 100 photos to celebrate these 100 days.  Some are amongst my favourite photos and others are of the many wonderful people I have met,  but collectively I hope they give some feel for the mood and magic that is an Irish music session.  Photos come from Miltown, Tubercurry, Drumshanbo, Spiddal, Achill and Feakle. I have included photos from sessions before Willlie Week in my earlier blogs.  Where possible I have tried to identify everyone.  Thanks Niamh and Graham for your help.  If I have missed anyone my apologies and please let me know and I will edit the caption,  and if I have spelt your name wrong, apologies again.

Thanks for the tunes!

 

Categories: Festivals, My Journey, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Home?

It’s been so long since I blogged and so much has happened. The really big news for me which I got today is that I have approval to stay in Ireland for the next 12 months. The journey which I started three months ago is not over. I can now plan for the future. Buy a car and rent a house for starters. And see if Ireland is really for me. Everyone (and I mean everyone!) tells me I won’t be able to handle the winter. We’ll see.

In the last six weeks I have been on the Festival trail. A journey that has taken me through Clare (Willie Week, Tulla and Feakle Festivals and the Clare Fleadh at Kilaloe) to Galway (TradPhicnic at Spiddal), Sligo (Fleadh Cheoil and Tubercurry), Leitrim (Drumshanbo) and Mayo (Achill Island summer school). I have attended concerts, lectures, workshops, recitals and of course sessioned relentlessly. Indeed every day for the past 97 days! Is there a Guinness record for that?

It has been a wonderful experience but the festival season has come to an end. I haven’t dared look until I knew what my visa status was but I am sure there will be some fantastic events ahead of me. Perhaps more space in between them now!

It just occurred to me that the reason I have come here is to learn fiddle and while I have played fiddle every day, sometimes for 10 hours in a day I have not done any ‘practice’. Playing in sessions is not practice. I have hundreds of hours of recordings of workshops, sessions and concerts to sort. Great material for new tunes.

Of course I ’learnt’ heaps of new tunes at the Schools, from James Kelly, Paddy Ryan, John Daly, Liam O’Connor, Tola Custy, Siobhan Peoples, Martin Hayes, Eileen O’Brien and Yvonne Kane, but am having trouble recalling any of them. So there’s a lot of work there for me. Likewise I have literally thousands of photos to sort from the Festivals and from my travels through Mayo and Connemarra as well as here in Clare.

I have met some wonderful people and have some great stories to tell, so bear with me and I will start posting again when I can.

A quick thankyou to everyone who has supported me and encouraged me in what I am doing over here. I won’t name you all but you know who you are. I have been warmly accepted into the musical and broader community here in Clare and am really looking forward to the year(s) ahead.

In the meantime with my mind firmly on where I might live for the next year I have identified a few likely properties. The views can’t be faulted!

Stay Tuned…..

IMG_4237

Castle near Mullaghmore, Sligo

 

IMG_3465

House on Inishbiggle, Achill. Co Mayo

 

IMG_2989

House in Connemarra

 

IMG_4306

Benbulben, Sligo

 

IMG_8387

Connemarra, Co Glaway

IMG_1285

IMG_1371

Keel, Achill Island. Co Mayo

 

IMG_2283

Achill Island Co Mayo

 

IMG_2291

Achill Island. Co Mayo

 

IMG_4450

Co Sligo

 

IMG_7851

Innisheer, Co Galway

 

IMG_8377

Cottage, Connemarra, Co Galway

 

IMG_8432

Connemarra, Co Mayo

 

 

Categories: My Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.