Just like the weather, July had all sorts of everything as we travelled around Ireland for various events and for enjoyment.
We returned to Youghal for another series of workshops, this time with an enlarged orchestra and had a great time, culminating in a performance at the International College. We thoroughly enjoyed Seisiún and were delighted to perform a few steps and tunes at Brú na Sí. On Tuesday night, Daithí called down to Midleton for a session in Wallis’ Bar with John Cronin and a host of other musicians, playing a number of sets from the Midleton Rare album and a whole heap of polkas.
We crossed country to Limerick for the ICTM Conference at the University of Limerick. It was a wonderful occasion for Ireland to host the event and there was a great atmosphere. Daithí presented on the first day, speaking about the legacy of Fr Pat Ahern. On the Monday, we were delighted to present a screening of The Road to Speyfest and chat a little about our experience of travelling with a group of students, engaging in ethnomusicological research in Scotland and capturing some of this in the form of a documentary. Adèle presented her research on Rory Kennedy on the final day, highlighting not only his contribution to Irish traditional music in Dundalk but also his engagement with Irish dancing and the Irish language.
We took a timeout during the ICTM conference to travel to Ballymahon in County Longford for the Leinster Fleadh as a number of Daithí’s students were competing, including the U12 Grúpa Ceoil who had played for the Dundalk launch of A Louth Lilt. There was great success for Dundalk based musicians, groups and bands who can now look forward to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis in August. Acts on stage during the weekend included Mick Foster and friends who performed some of Brian O’Kane’s tunes for everybody’s enjoyment. You can find some of Brian’s tunes and information about him in a recent Treoir article.
We also took some time exploring the west of Ireland during July. While in Kerry, we got to attend the Seisiún in Tralee – it’s twenty years since Daithí performed in Seisiún in Dúchas House and it was great to see the tradition continuing with the next generation. The performances are now held in the Earl of Desmond Hotel, where Daithí often performed with friends and Dúchas House is to be replaced with a wonderful new theatre and Comhaltas centre located on the Institute of Technology Tralee campus as a partnership between CCÉ and ITT.
We also had a chance to enjoy the music of Conor Moriarty and Leonard Casey in Seán Ógs in Tralee, bringing back memories of sessions there and a wonderful trip that Daithí had with the lads as part of Southbound for the National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2013. Conor is busy with his new band Cordeen and had also facilitated workshops and performed at Brú na Sí recently. We also stopped into the gallery at Siamsa Tíre to see the exhibition on the current productions of Siamsa Tíre entitled Ag Féachaint Siar (Looking Back).
Moving northwards along the Wild Atlantic Way, we stopped off in Ennis where we made some purchases and left some books and CDs in Custy’s Music Shop. After a photograph with Willie Clancy in Miltown Malbay and a walk along a windswept Cliffs of Moher we were also delighted to drop books and CDs into the Doolin Music Shop near the home of the Russell Brothers. It is fantastic to drive along connecting music and places – The Humours of Tulla, The Burren, The Cliffs of Moher, The Bucks of Oranmore, The Galway Rambler…
In Galway we enjoyed a stroll around the streets and were delighted to hear A Louth Lilt sounding from the speakers of Powell’s Music Shop where both the book and CD are stocked. We enjoyed a great session with local musicians at the Black Gate Cultural Centre, a fantastic venue with a difference where we were joined by our good friend and fellow musician and academic Deirdre Ní Chonghaile.
As beautiful and celebrated as the west of Ireland is, it was great to return to Louth and enjoy some of the region to the east. Dún an Rí forest park, just over the county bounds in Cavan, is reputedly where Cúchulainn, whose image is featured on the front of A Louth Lilt, took a rest when fighting the armies of Queen Meabh. Over the border to Meath, there are many opportunities to walk along the banks of the Boyne and there are some beautiful vistas of the ancient passage tomb at Newgrange in some parts.
Returning to Dundalk for music, we were delighted to attend the Seisiún performance at the Oriel Centre in Dundalk Gaol. We joined in the music, song and dance with performers from Louth, Monaghan, Armagh and Down and visitors from further afield. Amongst the performers was a young pupil of Daithí’s with a bright future, while the chats afterwards highlighted the rich heritage and interest in traditional dancing in Louth and surrounding counties. The following night, we enjoyed joining the youth session organised by Noreen McManus at Callan’s Bar on the Castleblaney Road outside Dundalk. Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh siad.
With loads of musical activities in August, we are looking forward to more craic – hopefully you will join us on our journey.