Posts Tagged With: Feakle

Ryan Young. A CD Review.


It’s not everyday that an album comes along that completely stops you in your tracks. That you just listen to over and over again and keep discovering something new. There was a real buzz at the Traditional Irish Music Festival in August 2017 about this album and the room was packed out at Peppers Bar on the Thursday evening with people peering in the window to get a look.


He was supported by Clare ‘royalty’ Mary MacNamara and Dennis Cahill and I listened from outside the door along with the others who couldn’t get in.


I didn’t remember meeting Ryan Young. But he assured me we did, two years ago at Feakle at a Martin Hayes workshop. And we have been Facebook friends since then so we must have met.   In 2015 Ryan was visiting Ireland for the first time from his home in Loch Lomond in Scotland and meeting Martin also for the first time.  Too shy though to speak to his idol he sat through the three days silently.

A lot has happened for Ryan since then. I met him again this year at Feakle and as before he sat in on Martin’s workshop. This time though it was a different matter.  Martin was well acquainted with him.  In the last two years he has achieved second in this year’s BBC Musician of the Year, supported Martin and Dennis Cahill at Celtic Connections and produced a CD after a You Tube clip was spotted by renowned producer Jesse Lewis.  And he deserves every ounce of this success.

Although hailing from the Highlands he is an adherent of the Clare style of fiddle playing, particularly East Clare. He had grown up with recordings of PJ Hayes, Paddy Canny, Bobby Casey and Martin. It was inevitable that he would bring this style of playing to his native tunes.


And that’s what his eponymous CD does. But for me it is done in an extraordinarily sensitive and sensual way. The clarity of sound and the sweet accoustics reflect that it was recorded in the Opera Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  This, with the brilliant controlled and expressive playing make this an outstanding recording.

The music is sometimes irresistibly Scottish but, even though all the tunes are ‘Scottish’, it often doesn’t sound like it. One can imagine purists would not be too impressed. Many of the tunes though are familiar sounding;  I am sure I heard elements of Rakish Paddy in there somewhere.

It is of course hard not to reference Martin Hayes while you are listening but there is so much originality and thought in the music that it does take on a life of its own.  There are a number of longer tracks that explore different rhythms and textures in the same way that Hayes and Cahill do and the use of the piano at times is particularly pleasing.

But for all this, it is not Clare Music, it is not Scots, it is Ryan Young. That’s quite an achievement.



Categories: Stories, The Fiddle, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ireland – The Next Chapter

I’ll start this blog with some good news. Those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know that my application to remain in Ireland has been accepted and I can stay another 12 months.  The wait has been interminable. Over four months without a word and without any response to enquiries.  Everyone I spoke to about it seemed to think that was pretty normal and that I just had to wait.  Meanwhile my visa had expired and my life was on hold.  My inability to prove residency and obtain an Irish driving licence led to refusal to re-insure my car and so for three months I have been unable to drive.  It will still be a couple of months before that is rectified.

I wonder why some countries make it so difficult for people to come and live.  I am sure Australia is just as bad with people wanting to reside there.  I just don’t get it though.  I am self-sufficient, I have met all the requirements, I accept that I can’t work or run a business but still I have to go through all these hoops and am met with a wall of silence when I try to find out what’s going on.  In Ireland, the hundreds of millions of people in the Eurozone can come and go as they please but the few thousand Aussies who want to make Ireland home (even for a short while)  find that to stay longer than 90 days is laced with any number of difficulties.   A country looking to recover from an economic catastrophe should be welcoming anyone who wants to come here and spend money.

Anyway I am undaunted because I am not ready to go home.  Over the next year I will explore ways of obtaining longer terms of residency to continue on my musical journey.  But Ireland has become much more than that to me.  It has etched its way into my being.  With a few exceptions, which I won’t dwell on, I have been welcomed here with open arms and open hearts.  It is such a contrast to the anonymity of Australian suburbia where you can live for years and never be recognised by your neighbours. Here I live in a small community and people take you as you are.  I am often greeted by strangers “with a warm and kind hello” as in the lyrics of the song “The Clogher Road”.  I have had many offers of lifts to do my shopping or get coal as people became aware of my predicament.  And in my cycles around West Clare I am often tooted with recognition or waved at by people who obviously know me even if I don’t recognise them.

And I feel part of the wider community also, throughout Clare and beyond.  Facebook and this blog have allowed me to keep in contact with the hundreds of people I have met through music in Ireland and around the world.  And to share my experiences and images.  I have received a terrific response to my posts and it seems to me that the Irish and followers of Irish music around the world love to read about and see what’s happening around the country.   Many of my overseas friends tell me they live a little vicariously through my blogs until they can actually get here themselves.

So I will continue to write and photograph.  I will of course play music.  Both in sessions and at home.  I can feel myself improving and want that to continue.  Perhaps I won’t go to sessions every night – I will speak about that in another blog.  I want to explore more of this country and as soon as I can drive I want to revisit some of my favourite places (such as Connemara, Aran Islands and Donegal,) and to find new favourite places, especially in the remotest parts of Ireland to discover the people and music there.

So please stay with me on my blog and follow me on the next stage of my journey…

Here are some of my favourite pictures from the past year or so, which may help you understand why I don’t want to go home.


A stormy day near Spanish Point, Co Clare


The last day at the old Brogan’s Pub in Ennis.


Sunset at Caherush, Co Clare


A peek into a session at Pepper’s Pub, Feakle, Co Clare


My cottage in Clare


Near Mullaghmore, Co Sligo


The Burren bathed in golden light


The magical Mount Errigal, Co Donegal.

Categories: My Journey, Real Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Feakle Matters

Since I last posted on Willie Week I have been to schools and festivals at Tubbercurry, Drumshanbo, Achill and Feakle.  So I have a bit of catching up to do. I will start with Feakle and post on the other festivals as I have time.

As I write this, the sun is shining and the Quilty coastline looks stunningly gorgeous outside my study window. I should be out there and I will but first I need to say a few words about Feakle before it becomes too distant a memory. Does Feakle matter? (well I thought it was funny at the time – last year in a Guinness-fuelled creative frenzy the idea of a local newspaper with the name Feakle Matters popped up so it seemed logical as the heading for this blog) The answer: yes.

Feakle is an otherwise sleepy village with the four pubs and a fifth, the famous Peppers, about half a mile down the road. It is legendary as the home of PJ Hayes and his illustrious son Martin, and the surrounding villages are the home of many musicians, now and in the past, some of them icons of Irish music. On this weekend it is a one lane street choked with musical pilgrims visiting the spiritual home of East Clare music and the Tulla Ceili Band.

Feakle markets itself as an International Festival. That ‘international’ flavour comes from the hoards of overseas visitors who come specially, though there was one international act ‘The London Lasses’. The music however is pure Irish. I won’t say pure Clare, because visitors from Kerry and Sligo and Galway and elsewhere see to that, but the influence of Mary MacNamara, Martin Hayes and the legacy of Paddy Canny and PJ Hayes shines through everywhere.

There are many highlights and I can’t begin to list them. You could have done a lot worse than to just grab a seat in Peppers and stay there for the full four days. You would have heard Seamus Begley, Martin Hayes, Cliare Egan Paraig Mac Donagh, Derek Hickey Gerry Harrington, Conal O’Grada, Benny Macarthy, Andrew MacNamara, The London Lasses, Pat O’Connor, Mark Donnelan, Cormac Begley, Anne-Marie McCormack, Eileen O’Brien, Dave Sheridan, Charlie Harris, Joan Hanrahan, Brid O’Gorman, Conor Keane, Joe Fitzgerald and the rest.  What separates Feakle from the other summer schools and festivals is that people here come for the music. Yes they come for the craic and the Guinness but there is a reverence here that I didn’t find everywhere and often the music was so good that the pub was stunned into silence without the need for a chorus of ssshhhsshh’s. Peppers is one of the best places to listen to Irish music. It is intimate but there is room for both the listener and the player and there is room for the occasional set dance. Sessions at Festivals can be a mixed bag and there are always some that disappoint (I will talk about this in another blog) but here at Feakle the quality is so high that whether you play or listen you can’t fail to be satisfied.

For me. Two days of workshops with Martin Hayes and a day from an equally impressive Yvonne Casey was a major highlight. Martin spoke at length of his approach to playing and there was much wisdom. We were also treated during his class to an impromptu concert from Martin and Mary MacNamara.  Wow.  Yvonne’s workshop complemented this beautifully and I came away inspired just as a School should.  Best of all there was a tutor’s session where a privileged few of us had the opportunity to play for two hours in PJ’s Corner with Martin and his nieces Aiofe and Ciara. It was 4pm so the pub was quiet and it was sublime, respectful and not just a highlight of the festival but of my stay in Ireland.

I was also very lucky to catch up with Joe Fitzgerald. Joe lives in Melbourne with his brothers and is at the centre of the session scene there. He was making a rare visit back to his home near Feakle and I was surprised with the reverence he was held in here. We had a great chat and it turned out he was a sometime prospector and had worked the area around Kookynie in the WA goldfields where I cut my gold exploration teeth in the early 80s.  TG4 were filming him for a documentary and afterwards he joined in a session in Peppers. This session was memorable as it had Aiofe and Ciara Hayes and Amy and Sarah Donnelan and other young Feakle/Tulla musicians and amply demonstrated the continuity of the musical tradition in this part of the world. Almost like a handing over of the baton from Joe to the new custodians of this great tradition.

While on the young players, there was a tremendous opening concert with groups of local young musicians, many of whom are County and Provincial champions and will no doubt come home from Sligo as All Ireland champions. Mary MacNamara and Eileen O’Brien and all the others who put so much time into ensuring the young inherit the strong local tradition of quality dance music, with the characteristic bounce and ensure that it is played with honesty, passion and heart are to be commended and thanked.

Feakle is a great meeting place and if the weather is good there is no better place to spend time than on the benches outside Peppers. May this continue well into the future.

There’s plenty more I could say and should but I’ll just put a few pics up. I was so busy playing that I left the camera behind on a number of occasions so I haven’t caught everyone or every great moment but I think you’ll get the picture.

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

Super Sunday

What a Sunday.

After a very late night at the Cuckoo Fleadh in Kinvara in Galway I was slow to get started but discovered the perfect antidote at Byrnes Restaurant in Ennistymon. Yvonne Casey and Jon O’Connell.  This was as close to pure as you could hope for.  It was a sublime combination of music and place. Outside after the night’s heavy rain the Ennistymon falls were gushing.  Inside a fiddle and guitar melted together in the hands of two world class players. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t all Irish. At times the small but appreciative audience were mesmerised. I came away enervated but and itching to play.


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So off to Kinvara again for the Cuckoo Fleadh. There were sessions everywhere by the time I arrived. The highlight for the day was a session with Brid Harper and eight fiddles. At least until the noise from the local lads became too much. Hope I dont offend anyone but I am a fiddler, and for a change to hear eight of them with only a whistle, flute and concertina was heaven.  Great to catch up for tunes with with Moya and Sandra in the back bar of Connollys and with Bridge and Siofra.  On top of 11 hours of music the previous day (including a madcap session with Andrew MacNamara and Eileen O’Brien and meeting and playing with Eilish O’Connor again, after 33 years!) I was well satisfied

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Then off for a session at the Blacksticks Pub at O’Callaghan’s Mills. It lies somewhere between Feakle and Tulla and is one of those rare gems of pubs. It only has music on holiday Sundays and the session in the kitchen, led by Pat O’Connor and John Canny and attended by locals from Feakle and Tulla was a real little window into East Clare. I will talk more about this in another place but I got home at 3.30am, after pretty much circumnavigating Clare, tired and satisfied.

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Categories: Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it really six months??

I have now been in Ireland over six months.

I was going to write some profound piece about my time here and reflect on my experiences since I arrived at Dublin Airport with my fiddle on back in mid-May. I was going to write about the fact that I have played music at an organised session every night since I have been here, about the fact that I have played in at least 400 sessions possibly as many as 500, about the fact that I have attended over twenty Festivals and Summer Schools, about the fact that I have played music in Clare, Sligo, Lietrim, Mayo, Offaly, Galway, Tipperary, Cork, Dublin and Armagh, about the fact that I have had lessons from Tola Custy, Siobhan Peoples, Maurice Lennon, Yvonne Kane, Eileen O’Brien, Martin Hayes, Yvonne Casey, James Kelly, Liam O’Connor and many others, about the many ‘famous’ musicians I have played with and met, about the wonderful places I have visited in Clare and beyond, about my house by the sea, about….. But no. I won’t even mention those things.

Instead I just want to talk about the music over the last three nights. Firstly at PJ Kelly’s Bar in Ennis on Saturday night, then at Pepper’s in Feakle on Sunday, at home on Monday afternoon and at Fitz’s Bar in Hotel Doolin that evening. Because these three nights say everything about why I am here and why I can’t see myself returning to Australia for the foreseeable future.

Saturday night had kicked off with a CD launch upstairs at the Old Ground. Dymphna O‘Sullivan, wonderful Ennis based concertina player had gathered together an eclectic collection of musicians who entertained a large crowd for well over two hours. There was great variety with visiting musicians including Joe Carey from Mayo and members of the Droney family, and a whistler (the ‘put-your-lips-together-and-blow’ type of whistler), along with elite players from Clare including Eoin O’Neill, Eileen O’Brien, Joan Hanranhan, Eileen Cotter and many others. There was dancing including sean nos, step dancing and a set to finish it off. While I love listening to Irish music in the concert situation it always leaves me wanting more and the desire to play becomes overpowering. So the word was that some of the musicians would be heading down to Kelly’s. This is my regular Saturday session as I love the tinge of Tulla provided by regulars Andrew MacNamara, Brid O’Gorman and Joan Hanrahan.

I arrived at 11:00 to an already packed bar. I knew half the musicians there, which was great as I felt welcomed but it didn’t help get a seat! I was lucky to get a stool just outside the circle. They were already in full swing so I wasted no time in getting the fiddle out. Plenty of tunes I knew and at a good steady pace – just the way I like it! Though as the Guinness flowed of course the music got faster. More musicians arrived as the CD launch wound down and there were soon 14 musicians playing. Other well-known musicians arrived but could not get a seat. Unfazed, they were happy to stand at the bar and listen. And that’s what makes nights such as these special. Egos are put to one side. It’s all about the music and the craic. It’s when the realities of being a working musician get subsumed by the sheer pleasure of making music and listening to music and being with others who are making music. The music lifts off the page or from out of the cd cover and becomes real.

This was indeed one of those nights. The music might not have always been to everyone’s taste with four accordions but it’s hard to imagine how you could have a better time in a pub. There was impromptu dancing, some gorgeous singing, waltzes and of course the Guinness and the cider. The music didn’t even stop when an older guy, who I had noticed earlier, head drooped on his chest sleeping at the bar, fell off his stool, crashing to the floor among the musicians. It was in the middle of a haunting air being played on the accordion and while a few concerned punters went to his aid the tune carried on and by the time the air had changed to a reel the fellow was back on his stool and his coke refilled (yes the tap had been turned off for him) as if nothing had happened.

As a couple of musicians drifted away I took a seat near the fire in the thick of it relishing my privileged position. I could not wipe the smile off my face and I observed that sense of joy in all the players and I should say the listeners. The music and craic went until 2 am by which time the increasingly panicky publican was desperately trying to clear the bar for fear the Gardaí might pay a visit.

This experience only happened to me because I live here. A visitor might stumble on this session if he or she is lucky, but would they feel part of it, or would they just be an observer. This is a dilemma for those irregular visitors. Sure you can find great sessions in Festivals but it is somehow different. I was the only foreigner here. In a Festival situation the session might be dominated by visitors . Not that that is necessarily a bad thing but it does change the tone and quality. This was ‘real’. This was Irish people enjoying their music and tradition for themselves. This was as close to ‘authentic’ as I can imagine a Session in 21st Century Ireland could be. I arrived home at 3am satisfied and fulfilled.

A friend had told me there was to be music the next day from 4pm at Pepper’s Bar in Feakle. This was to celebrate the 40th year of management by Gary Pepper. For those who don’t know, Peppers is one of the iconic venues for East Clare music. A favourite haunt for Martin Hayes and his father PJ it is still a great place for the craic. Where better than to celebrate my 200th continuous night (sorry, I said I wasn’t going to mention it) than here. And what a fabulous night it was. It was like being back at the Feakle Festival, one of the summer’s great events, but without the crowds. The music was in full swing when I arrived at 4pm being led by Pat O’Connor, and Padraig MacDonncha. They were joined later in the evening by Andrew MacNamara, Eileen O’Brien and Deidre McSherry. When I left exhausted at 12pm after eight hours of pretty much continuous playing and surviving on bar snacks, they were still at it. There’s not much more to say except that it was a privilege to be there. I never got home that night though as I realised too late that I didn’t have enough petrol to drive home to Caherush and when I got to Ennis at 1am could not find an open garage. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this but with my car computer telling me I had 8 km left in the tank I knocked on Graham’s door at Kilnamona. It was 3.30am and a few whiskeys later that I finally got to bed. Thanks mate!

Not long after I eventually got home on Monday I was disturbed by a knock on the door. Disturbed is not the right word as it was John Joe Tuttle, long time resident and fiddler from Crosses of Anagh just outside Miltown Malbay. I had played with him occasionally at Friels in Miltown and had invited him to call in. Here he was taking me up on this and we settled down in front of the fire with a cup of tea (he did refuse my offer of a whiskey) for a couple of hours of wonderful tunes and reminiscences. John Joe knew PJ Talty, whose house we were in, as well as Willie Clancy and Paddy Canny and everyone else since. He had played with them in kitchens, in Ceili Bands and from the late 50s in pubs. It was an absolute treat for me as he shared tunes he learnt from his early days in West Clare to ones he had learnt just this week. He had a particular liking for the tunes of Sean Ryan and said they were very popular in those days. I then joined him for a few tunes which was the icing on a wonderful afternoon.

That night I headed to Hotel Doolin for the regular Monday session. This session is led by Eoin O’Neill, Quentin Cooper, Adam Shapiro and Jon O’Connell.  In the short while it has been going it has become the session in Doolin and for that matter in the whole of West Clare. The pub is always full, with locals and visitors alike and attracts wonderful musicians such as Conor Byrne, Luka Bloom and Noirin Lynch. What sets this session apart is that anything goes. Of course it is rooted in trad and you will get driving reels and haunting songs but you will also get some blues, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley or something from the Balkans. Every night is different.

When I walked in there was a buzz already and that was before the music had even started. There was standing room only and a sense of eager anticipation. From the first tune the night did not disappoint. There was wild applause after each number and reverential silence for the songs. Wonderful singers from the floor and the pace didn’t let up until after midnight.

This was not just a show for the tourists. It felt like the real thing. The musicians gave their all and the punters lapped it up. This is the picture of Ireland that visitors take away and talk about and why they come back year after year to Doolin. Kayla and Emily from Canada, Emma and Becca from Melbourne and Ro from Adelaide and the many others I didn’t meet who were here for one or two nights went away with the experience of a lifetime.

So these three nights say everything about why I came here.

The Ireland I have discovered is surprisingly close to the romantic vision that I came here with. Of course I have had issues, particularly with bureaucracy and rules and regulations, but probably no more than a foreigner would have anywhere else in the world, but the folks of Clare are friendly and welcoming. I have met a host of wonderful people and have been made to feel part of this community, when I was at Kilnamona and now at Caherush. Maybe it is the same all over Ireland I can’t say but when I come back from my travels it is like coming home.

I would like to thank all the musicians and lovers of music and dancing who have made my first six months in Ireland so special. I can’t possibly name everyone but I should single out the people I play with at the regular sessions around Clare – in Ennis, Ennistymon, Miltown, Lahinch, Doolin, Feakle and beyond. People who put up with my musical inadequacies and make me feel welcome. People whose playing from the heart keeps me grounded and ensures that it will be a long time before I have ‘delusions of competence’ but who at the same time inspire me to keep going. To the many people with whom I have shared a Guinness and a story and to the many, many friends I have made from Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, the US, Britain and wherever who share this passion for Irish Music and the Irish experience.

I don’t regret for a moment my decision to base myself in Clare as the words of Christy Moore ring constantly in my ears – “Flutes and fiddles everywhere, If it’s music you want you should go to Clare”.



Evening fog. The road to Feakle



Eileen O’Brien, Pepper’s Feakle



Deidre McSherry. Pepper’s Feakle



Andrew MacNamara, Padraig Mac Donncha. Peppers Feakle



Peppers Feakle



Andrew MacNamara, Pat O’Connor, Padraigh MacDonncha



Happy Birthday Eileen. Peppers Feakle



Happy Birthday Eileen. Peppers Feakle



Festive fiddle



Peppers Feakle



Enjoying the craic. Peppers Feakle



Enjoying the craic. Peppers Feakle



John Joe Tuttle. At my house in Caherush. December 2014



Kayla and Emily visiting from Canada. Fitz’s Bar Doolin



Conor Byrne. Fitz’s Bar Doolin



Quentin Cooper, Adam Shapiro, Eoin O’Neill. Fitz’s Bar Doolin



Luka Bloom. Fitz’s Bar



Elaine Doonan, Jon O’ Connell. Fitz’s Bar



Sign Fitz’s Bar Doolin


Categories: My Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

100 Nights of Sessions – 100 photos!


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

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


Tubbercurry 2014. John Joe Kelly


Tubbercurry 2014. Flute session


Tubbercurry 2014. Paddy Ryan


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


Drumshanbo 2014. Keith from Wales.


Drumshanbo 2014. Albert from Barcelona


Drumshanbo 2014. Caroline from France


Drumshanbo 2014. Jose from Barcelona


Drumshanbo 2014.


Drumshanbo 2014. Concentration!


Drumshanbo 2014. The kids take over the High Street.


Achill Island 2014. Brendan Begley at the Valley House


Feakle 2014. Fiddles!


Feakle 2014. Pat O’Connor


Feakle 2014. Vincent Griffin


Feakle 2014. Maurice Lennon and Vincent Griffin


Tubbercurry 2014. Alistair Cassidy. Snap!


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


Tubercurry 2014. Johnny Og Connolly and friends.


Feakle 2014. Yvonne Kane and Cormac Begley


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


Feakle 2014. Joan Hanrahan and Dympna O’Sullivan.


Feakle 2014. Steve from England


Feakle 2014. Eileen O’Brien


Feakle 2014. Young Clare musicians


Feakle 2014. Eoghan O’Sullivan, Dennis Cahill.


Feakle 2014 Eileen O’Brien and Pat O’Connor


Feakle 2014. Thierry Masure


Feakle 2014. Antoin Mac Gabhann


Feakle 2014. Dennis Cahill


Feakle 2014


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


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


Traidphicnic Spiddal 2014. Magic fingers. Mike McGoldrick


Tubbercurry 2014. Nicolle Figueroa Gallaga.


Tubbercurry 2014. Emmy and Veronika from Netherlands


Tubbercurry 2014. Rita from Switzerland


Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Adam Shapiro


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


Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. John Rynne,


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


Willy Clancy Festival. Milltown Malbay 2014. Enjoying the Craic


Traidphicnic Spiddal. Tola Custy


Feakle 2014 Seamus Begley at Peppers


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Sean Keane


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.


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


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


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


Tubercurry 2014. Phillip Duffy


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Sean Ryan


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


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


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


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Fiddler


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

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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Coore


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Coore


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Liz Coleman


Traidphicnic, Spiddal. Florianne Blanke


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


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


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


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Kevin Rowsome


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Antoin Mac Gabhann


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. Seamus Sands


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


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014. the Blondes.


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


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


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


Willie Clancy Week, Miltown Malbay 2014.


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


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


Fleadh Cheoil Sligo 2014. Street buskers


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


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


Fleadh Cheoil. Sligo 2014 Christina and Fiona from London


Achill. 2014.. Brendan Begley and Harry Bradley


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


Willie Clancy Week. Miltown Malbay. My last free Willie


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


Willie Clancy Week Miltown Malbay, 2014


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…..


Castle near Mullaghmore, Sligo



House on Inishbiggle, Achill. Co Mayo



House in Connemarra



Benbulben, Sligo



Connemarra, Co Glaway



Keel, Achill Island. Co Mayo



Achill Island Co Mayo



Achill Island. Co Mayo



Co Sligo



Innisheer, Co Galway



Cottage, Connemarra, Co Galway



Connemarra, Co Mayo



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

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