Outdoor session ~ photo: Tina McLoughlin

Burren Bulletin, September 2020

Hello from Burren Fiddle Holidays in continuing times of Coronavirus. As I read over my last post, I was surprised how fearful and unsettled it sounded in places; by how complete the lock-down was, such that the act of four people being allowed to meet outside again was suddenly liberating. By now restrictions on numbers allowed to gather together have been revised many times, most recently yesterday, which marked two weeks of the schools and universities having reopened.

Life is still slower than pre-virus, however many pre-virus habits have returned. Wood-chopping took a break for the summer as the weather was warmer, and the electric oven is now in use again. The summer weather wasn’t as good as for the total lock-down of spring but there were still moments for some outside music sessions and conversations. Thank you to my friends for organising these and keeping me sane as a result! The car got it’s certificate of road-worthiness and it is back on the road, balancing the less-travel-is-good-for-the-environment with the need to get out. Re bread making, I imagine flour producers are doing better than they have in many years as the increased interest in cooking and baking seems to endure! Buying new things is still at an all-time low, even for me, and grocery shopping is no longer something stressful, just something routine for which you have to wear a face mask. It’s amazing what you get used to.

On the Farm

We are now allowed to have up to 50 people indoors, so some theatres, galleries and venues are going ahead with staging socially distanced and managed events. The ‘Wet’ pubs as they’re calling them – the pubs which don’t serve food – should be allowed to reopen on the 21st of this month – the ones outside of Dublin, that is. Those which do open have to allow for distancing and it’ll be table-service only for a maximum group size of 6 people from 3 households. As far as I understand live music is allowed, however there won’t be much space for us musicians – ruling out anything resembling the former glory of the music session. As I write this I don’t want to sound bleak, however; as we have a government survival strategy for ‘living with Coronavirus’ over the next six months, it is clear we need one for society too. From a music standpoint, I’ve been following a group called the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) who have been doing their best to address this from an industry perspective; they’ve been requesting support packages which would enable financial survival for musicians, artists, event managers etc as well as the continuation of creativity in a restricted setting; so far success has been mostly for the larger venues and record producers…it is hoped that some kind of artist package will become available for the independent gigging musicians too.

Willie Clancy Week, 2020!

Closer to home, the Burren Fiddle Holidays survival package revolves around teaching; since the accommodation offered as part of the fiddle holiday package is shared, this will remain closed for the moment. In-person fiddle holiday tuition is available, though I know it has been too risky for the most part for you all to get here! I’m teaching most of my regular students online this year, however in-person lessons are available too with safety precautions. I have hand-sanitizer, soap and anti-bacterial wipes (masks are available too if you would like) and I will have wiped down the chairs and door handles in preparation for your arrival. If you’d like to book in for lessons – online or in person – let me know. There are still some spaces left for the autumn term.

fiddle lessons skype irish traditional
Online fiddle lessons

Lastly, I wanted to write that the individual survival package also revolves around keeping the music and conversation going and – even though restricted – to be social whenever we can. I know it’s Ireland and winter is approaching – that’ll mostly mean the end of outdoor music – so we’ll have to play indoors in tiny groups! It might take a bit of extra effort to organise and get motivated but it will be worth it. Hope to see you soon.

Winter practice companion!