South Sligo Summer School


With the 26th year of the South Sligo Summer School of traditional music, song and dance just around the corner the people of Tubbercurry and the surrounding area are all set to welcome musicians, singers and dancers from every corner of Ireland and around the globe into their community for six days when music will ring out from the rafters as young and old gather to listen and learn, sing, play and dance together.
The week begins in Cawleys,Tubbercurry, where the official opening takes place on Sunday evening, 15th July at 7.30 pm.  Cllr Michael Fleming is doing the honours of officially opening this year’s summer school and it is fitting that he should so as he was very much involved in Tobar Coop back in the mid 1980’s when the idea of setting up a summer school in Tubbercurry to promote the South Sligo style of music was first mooted.
Following the official opening to which everyone is welcome, there will be an informal seisiún and refreshments.  The dancers then get their week of dancing off to a great start with the lively toe-tapping music of the Kerry based Deenagh Céilí Band, making their first appearance in Tubbercurry.  All dancing events, including six mornings of set dance and two hand dance workshops with the inimitable pairing of Pat Murphy & Betty McCoy, five weekday afternoons of sean nós dancing classes with our own Brenda O’Callaghan and a total of eight céilís will take place in the newly refurbished St. Brigid’s Hall where a warm welcome awaits one and all as the dancers take to the beautiful original maple floor.
Also making their first appearance at a summer school céilí in Tubbercurry is the Innisfree Céilí Band.  Band members include Tubbercurry’s own Damien Stenson and Maire Nic Dhiarmada on flute and band leader Oisín Mac Diarmada on fiddle.  Both Oisín and Máire will be teaching at the summer school and Damien and Damien and Oisín are members of the traditional band Téada, who were honoured at a tribute concert at last year’s summer school on the occasion of their tenth anniversary.
This year the summer school committee is delighted to honour the uilleann piper and tutor, Brian Gallahar.  Brian will be guest of honour at a special concert in St. Attracta’s Community School on Monday, 16th July, starting at 8 pm.  Tickets will be available on the door and this will be a night not to be missed, featuring many of Brian’s musician friends, among them the renowned uilleann pipers Brian McNamara, Emmett Gill, Néillidh Mulligan and Ronan Browne, all of whom are former pupils of Brian’s.  Having grown up in Dublin, Brian has for many years lived in Ceathrú Thaidhg, Co. Mayo and our neighbouring county  will therefore be well represented on the night as the cream of musicians and singers from that neck of the woods come together to play tunes in the company of their great friend  and fellow musician.   Brian has taught the uilleann pipes at the South Sligo Summer School since the school was established in 1987.  A founding member of na Píobairí Uilleann, he is very highly regarded in piping circles and in the world of traditional music as a whole. 
The week’s concerts continue with recitals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings in a venue on the Lane just off the Square in Tubbercurry, while the final concert of the week, with tutors, local and visiting musicians all taking part, will take place in St. Attracta’s Community School, starting at 8 pm each night.  The recitals and concerts are open to the public, admission payable on the door.
First time tutors this year include Galway banjo player Enda Scahill, Steve Sweeney, also from Galway, who will be teaching the button accordion and brother and sister Sinead and Darragh Healy from Castlebar, teaching piano accordion and bodhrán respectively.  A number of the summer school tutors will be giving talks during the week on diverse topics ranging from ‘Elements of Irish/American Fiddle Styles’ and ‘The Origins and Development of the Concertina in Irish Traditional Music’  to ‘Transmission and Metaphoric Practice in Irish Traditional Music’.  For those interested in traditional accompaniment, Sligo’s own Seamie O’Dowd will be giving a presentation on ‘The Guitar in Traditional Music’ on Monday afternoon while Paddy Kerr, another musician with Sligo connections and one of this year’s bodhrán tutors, will give a talk on ‘The Bouzouki: its History, Influence and Styles in Traditional Irish Music’ on Friday afternoon, bringing this year’s series of lectures to a close.
All in all then, a lot to look forward to for followers of our great tradition of music, song and dance and long may the music of South Sligo continue to thrive and grow as the deep roots laid down by our forefathers and the fine musicians who went before us branch out and reach fruition in the wonderful new talent we witness each year at the South Sligo Summer School, both home-grown and from much further afield.