What’s been going on – The Willie Clancy!

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Burren Fiddle Holidays, I count only 5 nights in the last 21 which weren’t filled with music! Between the Willie Clancy Week, The Munster Fleadh in Ennis and new summer sessions springing up all over the place, we have been absolutely spoiled for choice. Add a few gigs and some teaching as well and it is complete immersion.

Session in the Yard with Úna Ní Fhlannagáin during The Willie Clancy Week, 2018. Photo by Orla McGuinness

This post should really be dedicated to the Willie Clancy Week, which has always been my favourite festival (if I had to choose…). I have been every year since I was 14 years old and it is a habit I hope never to have to break. This year I had a friend and fiddle student staying, she was attending the fiddle classes at the summer school, and we would often meet afterwards for an update and some tunes in Miltown. I myself remember attending classes over 5 years, always with different and diverse teachers. I love to hear about people’s experiences and the different styles and ways of teaching fiddle, especially relevant now that I am teaching myself.

I know most nooks and crannies in the town where one might find music from early afternoon to late into the night, except for

Thanks to Anton Zille for taking this and the cover photo and for calling me over to the session!

some very fancy smoking areas, which have appeared or been expanded on significantly since the advent of the smoking ban! So, to these places I went, and found many a good session over the time I was there; from Tuesday to Saturday. It is great to be in a living tradition where you are part of a continuous cycle; to know you are playing the music of past generations and in doing so to transcend time for a few moments or hours. In this regard special mention should go to a street session I had the privilege of joining on Tuesday, led by Antóin MacGabhann, Seamus Sands, Mick Mulcahy, James Keane and James Kelly, and later joined by Antóin’s daughters Bernadette and Caitlín (to name but a few). Playing outside in Ireland is usually on the cooler side, but our weather these past few weeks has been so amazing that I played from 9pm until after midnight with no mention of temperature. Antóin has been playing and championing outside sessions for many years and I admire his passion for sharing his music and spirit with others in this way. I leave you with an on-street recording of Antóin and Seamus recorded in Miltown by a 14-year-old me. I always admired the sweetness and sensitivity of this playing and the subtle but unrelenting rhythm.

Farrell O’Gara/The Providence Reel – Antóin MacGabhann and Seamus Sands