Musical Doctors

Pictured (from left): Mary Bergin, Mary O’Hara, Andy Irvine, Mary Black, Paddy Glackin, Finbar Furey and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill (Photo UCD).

Some of our leading traditional musicians have been honoured by University College Dublin in recognition of their contribution to arts and culture.Performer and composer, Paul Brady, has been awarded the Ulysses Medal – the highest honour the university can bestow.

Previous recipients include poets Séamus Heaney and Thomas Kinsella; novelists Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien; as well as playwrights Frank McGuinness, Thomas Kilroy, Tom Murphy and Brian Friel.

For their commitment to Irish music and culture, and for playing a central role in helping to revive Irish folk music, a further seven musicians have received honorary doctorates from the university: Mary Bergin, Mary Black, Finbar Furey, Paddy Glackin, Andy Irvine, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Mary O’Hara.

After the ceremony, the honourees were joined by guest Donal Lunny for a special  performance for an invited audience of 700.

Doctor Brennan, I presume

Meanwhile, in Dublin City University, Moya Brennan has been awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition  of her fifty-year-long commitment to performing and composing traditional and folk music.

Delivering the citation, Dr. Síle Denvir of DCU’s Scoil na Gaeilge, who is, herself, an accomplished musician and sean nós singer, said:

“Moya has an innate ability to find the heart of music, to reach the essence of a song or a tune, and to make the ordinary extraordinary. Her many accolades, including a Grammy and an Emmy, are testament to this. Moya has played on the greatest stages in the world with many, many famous singers and musicians, but her generosity of spirit and grounded connection with her roots always bring her back home to the stage her father carved out for her and for her siblings in Tábhairne Leo in Mín na Leice.”

Paul Brady
Moya Brennan and Dr. Síle Denvir of Dublin City University (Photo: Síle Denvir)

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy returns in full

The fiftieth Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy will return in full and in-person in July when traditional musicians, singers, students and fans will descend upon Miltown Malbay, Mullagh, Quilty and Spanish Point for the week-long summer school. After a two-year hiatus necessitated by the Covid pandemic when a somewhat reduced summer school moved online, this year’s event – decidcated to the memory of WIllie Clancy (pictured above) – has been keenly anticipated.

Along with the usual instrument and dance classes, the week will also feature the evening recitals – each devoted to individual instruments like fiddle, harp, banjo,  concertina, button accordion, harmonica, uilleann pipes, whistle and flute along with sean-nós and step dancing and an afternoon of traditional singing in Irish and English. The artists confirmed to perform at the recitals reads like a who’s who of Irish traditional music and song.

As well as the instrumental recitals, the week will also includes three concerts – the Éire ‘s Alba celebration of the links between Gaelic Scotland and Scoil Samhraidh; the International Concert/Ceolchoirm Idirnáisiúnta featuring music, song and dance from Scotland, Wales, Britanny and Québec; and finally the Muiris Ó Rócháin Memorial Concert/Ceolchoirm Chuimhneacháin Muiris Ó Rócháin.

The céilithe also make a welcome return on seven nights of the summer school with a number of top bands on the programme including, the Kilfenora, the Tulla, the Brian Ború, the Dal gCais, the Taylor’s Cross, the Four Courts and the Abbey Trio.

Among the highlights of the week is this year’s Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture by Nicholas Carolan, the first Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, on the theme: When It All Started: The Traditional Music Landscape of 1973.

Another eagerly anticipated event is a tribute to the award-winning accordion master, Bobby Gardiner, which will be presented by traditional singer, musician and lecturer, Ciarán Ó Gealbháin.

Broadcaster and researcher, Harry Bradshaw, will consider the legacy of Bill Stapleton and the Irish Recording Company – some of which has been included on albums recently released by the ITMA.

Dr Paul Dooley and Ceri Owen Jones will reflect on the structures of Welsh medieval harp music and its parallels with Irish music traditions while Professor Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin from the University, Montréal will present New France to La Belle Province: Québec’s Traditional Soundscapes. Gearóid’s lecture will be followed by a screening of his film, The Lost Children of the Carricks.

Two more film screenings complete the programme – the first, a documentary on the life and music of renowned fiddler Seán Keane, and the second, a further screening of the recently released Dark Horse on the Wind, a feature-length documentary on the life and legacy of Dublin singer-songwriter, Liam Weldon. The screening will be presented by director, Myles O’Reilly, and producer, Lorraine Kennedy,

Laoise Kelly
Seán Keane
Louise Mulcahy
Bobby Gardiner
Máire Ní Chéallachair
Jack Talty

Willie Week links up with Harp Ireland

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland have established a new partnership to support the rapidly developing interest in Irish harping at the annual summer school.

Cruit Éireann is to award a scholarship for Irish harpers to attend the school’s harp workshops, which have been a feature of the Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy since 2007. Led by Kathleen Loughnane and supported by a line-up of renowned harper tutors, the workshops have grown in popularity in recent years.

“The harp recitals at the summer school have become a major attraction for the general public and are now considered one of the highlights of the week’s programme of events while the number of students participating has grown steadily since we began in 2007,” explained SSWC Drector, Harry Hughes. “This initiative to incentivise attendance by Irish harpers and to acknowledge the very positive work being done by both organisations is timely and we are delighted to be part of it”.

“Irish harping is now firmly integrated in the Irish traditional music world and recognised and celebrated internationally because of the excellence of its harpers and its UNESCO status. We welcome this opportunity” said Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland (pictured above). “The collaboration between Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland and Scoil Samhraidh Wille Clancy will ensure that harp studies and practice will remain central to the Irish traditional music heritage so effectively reflected by Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, and it will operate to our mutual benefit” she added.

Peggy to celebrate birthday at Kilkenny gig

Peggy Seeger will celebrate her 87th birthday on June 17, during her Irish tour. On the day in question she is due to perform in Kilkenny with her son, Calum MacColl, as part of the tour to promote her recent album, First Farewell.

The tour, which begins on Thursday, June 2, will see the duo play fourteen dates in eighteen days. It continues an ongoing relationship with Ireland which began on her visit in 1956 – when the young Peggy Seeger met Sarah Makem, Paddy Tunney and the Clancy family.

The Tour Dates:

June 2: Hawks Well Theatre, Sligo
June 3: Townhall Theatre, Cavan
June 4: Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
June 6: St John’s Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry (afternoon concert)
June 7: St John’s Arts Centre, Listowel (evening concert)
June 8: Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick
June 9: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
June 11: Róisín Dubh, Galway
June 12: Doolin Folk Festival, Doolin, Co. Clare
June 15: Séamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy, Co. Derry
June 16: Black Box, Belfast
June 17: Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny
June 18: Source Arts Centre, Thurles
June 19: The White Horse, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Peggy Seeger

(Photo: Vicki Sharp)

Celebrating Leon

Some of the leading figures on the British folk scene will take part in an international online celebration of the music of Leon Rosselson (pictured above). Martin Carthy, Billy Bragg, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Sandra Kerr – as well as Leon, himself – are among the many artists who will celebrating Leon’s life and work over six decades, creating a sound track for unsung heroes and unspeakable scoundrels.

This online event, Turning Silence into Song: The Music of Leon Rosselson,  will provide an opportunity to revisit his classic songs or be introduced to one you never heard before.

Each of the following artists will perform one song written by Leon Rosselson:

  • Frankie Armstrong (UK)
  • Billy Bragg (UK)
  • Rick Burkhardt (US)
  • Martin Carthy (UK)
  • Russ Chandler (UK)
  • Barbara Dane (US)
  • Chris Foster (Iceland)
  • Robb Johnson (UK)
  • Reem Kelan (UK)
  • Nancy Kerr (UK)
  • Sandra Kerr (UK)
  • Charlie King (US)
  • Leon Rosselson (UK)
  • Martin Simpson (UK)
  • Dean Stevens (US)
  • Elijah Wald (US)

This live Zoom concert, sponsored by The People’s Music Network, is totally free to the public. Donations to support PMN’s year round work of presenting workshops, conferences, and songswaps are gratefully accepted.

Members of the People’s Music Network may register for free. Non-members will receive the Zoom meeting links as soon as they register after any contribution to People’s Music Network of $2 or more.

Registration will not be required to tune in to the free livestream on the People’s Music Network Youtube page. But those who register will receive an automatic reminder about the show with the option to tune in via Zoom.

In the early days of the folk revival, Leon Rosselson was a member of the Galliards with whom he made numerous radio and television broadcasts and concert appearances. He started writing songs seriously (and humorously) in the early 1960s and hasn’t stopped since.

His early songs were topical-satirical (some of them were featured on the BBC TV show, That Was The Week That Was) but he broadened out from there, absorbing different influences, from music hall to French realist song, and experimenting with different song forms.

His song, The World Turned Upside Down, has been recorded and popularised by, among others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA.

His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright’s book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.

Rosselson has performed in every conceivable venue around the country and toured North America, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. He has written songs and scripts for Inter-Action’s Dogg’s Troupe and the Fun Art Bus, songs for a stage production at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and shows for performance with Roy Bailey and Frankie Armstrong, including the anti-nuclear No Cause for Alarm.
In addition to writing songs for children and giving children’s concerts in both Britain and the USA, he has had seventeen children’s books published. His first book, Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, published by Puffin, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 1991.
A stage show based on his children’s story, The Greatest Drummer In The World, was premiered in London in December 2002. His latest books are Pumpkin’s Downfall and Home Is A Place Called Nowhere. 
Martin Carthy
Sandra Kerr
Billy Bragg
Nancy Kerr
Martin Simpson

Belfast Song Gathering with Len Graham

Len Graham

This year’s Belfast Song Gathering will take place on Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14. The annual celebration of Ulster songs and singing is organised by Belfast Traditional Music and Dance Society in collaboration with An Droichead Arts Centre.

The gathering begins on Friday evening in the American Bar in Dock Street where the Belfast Singing Circle will host a singing session from 9pm.

On Saturday, former All-Ireland under-18 singing champion, Katie Boyle, will host a special singing workshop for families and children in the Green Room at the Black Box in Hill Street from 11am.

The Green Room is also the venue for Len Graham’s presentation entitled It’s of My Rambles at 1pm.

After lunch, the gathering will reassemble upstairs in the Sunflower Bar in Union Street at 4pm for another feast of singing hosted by the Nightingale Singing Session.

Each event in this year’s gathering is free of charge. All singers and listeners are welcome.