Frankie Kennedy 2010-2011: What's on?
By Carolyn farrar
Every year the Frankie Kennedy Winter School brings some of the best in Irish traditional music from Donegal and elsewhere to Gaoth Dobhair for a week of concerts and classes, lectures and sessions.
After Monday's launch, this year's evening concerts kicked off on Tuesday evening, when Samus Begley, Tim Edey, Mick O'Brien and Caoimhn Raghallaigh played at Ionad Cois Locha in Dn Liche, followed by Matt Molloy, John Carty and Arty McGlynn last night.
Today, Catriona McKay and Chris Stout, with special guest Mire N Choilm of Gaoth Dobhair, will perform at 4 pm at Ionad Naomh Pdraig in Dobhar; and the band Solas will perform at Ionad Cois Locha at 8.30 pm.
Altan makes their eagerly awaited annual appearance at the winter school with a concert on Jan. 1 at 8.30 pm. T with the Maggies, the splendid new group that features four great women of Irish singing: Trona and Maighread N Dhomhnaill, Mairad N Mhaonaigh and Moya Brennan, perform the last evening concert of this year's winter school on Jan. 2 at 8.30, at Ionad Cois Locha.
This year also marked the inaugural Gradam Francie Mooney, an annual award created to honour the legendary Gaoth Dobhair fiddle player and teacher and his contributions to writing and translating songs in the Irish language. Among Francie's works are the classic "An Barbara Allen" and "Mo Ghloine Uisce Beatha".
The award, which will become an annual prize, will be presented to an established songwriter who has written or performed in Irish. Paul Brady, who recorded several songs that Francie wrote, was to receive the inaugural award last night. He recorded one of Francie's best-known songs, "Gleanntin Ghlas Ghaoth Dobhair," in the late 1960s when he was a member of the Johnstons; and also recorded Francie's translation of the folk classic, "Lakes of Pontchartrain": "Bruach Loch Pontchartrain".
"We wanted to pay homage to Francie's work," said Conor Byrne, director of the winter school.
The annual Flute Blowout, always a popular event at the winter school, is scheduled for 4 pm on Dec. 31 at Ionad Naomh Pdraig. Some of the best players in the country will gather for an afternoon of traditional Irish flute music, carrying on the tradition of flute player Frankie Kennedy.
Also on Dec. 31, there will be a children's lantern procession, in association with the Cloughaneely artists' group An Cosn Glas, at An Chirt, the Gweedore Court Hotel. The children's procession will be accompanied by sculptures by An Cosn Glas artists and songs and tunes from other participants. Afterwards there will be a trad session at An Chirt to bring in the new year.
In advance of the procession there will be lantern-making workshops for children at 2 pm on Dec. 29 and 30 at An Chranng in Gaoth Dobhair, facilitated by local artists Deirdre Brennan and Annjo Carr of An Cosn Glas.
Singers take centre stage on Saturday, Jan. 1, with a 4 pm Seisin Amhrnaochta at Teach Hida Beag's Pub in An Bun Beag, hosted by fear an t Ciarn Mac Fheilimidh. This relaxed, annual singing session gives the audience an opportunity to experience the rich culture of locally celebrated songs.
There was another celebration of local culture earlier this week when fiddle player and founder member of Cairdeas na bhFidilir, Caoimhin Mac Aoidh, delivered a discussion of Tarlach Mac Suibhne, An Piobaire Mr, on Tuesday. Pipers Gabriel McKeon, Mick O'Brien, Ciarn Mac Fheilimidh and Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride and fiddle player Ciarn Maonaigh also played at the event.
And also on Tuesday, a taster afternoon at An Chranng enabled would-be musicians of all ages to try their hand at a musical instrument. Supported by the NCH Learn and Explore Music Education Programme, in partnership with Na Pobair Uilleann and Cairdeas na bhFidilir, Give it a Go/ Bain Triail As brought accomplished musicians to facilitate people as they tried some or all of the traditional instruments available.
There was another celebration of the new generation of traditional musicians yesterday when An Crann g, the talented young group of trad musicians under the direction of Caitln and PJ Joe Jack of Gaoth Dobhair, were to perform at Teach Hida Beag's Pub in An Bun Beag. An Crann g is finishing a busy and successful year that saw them performing in venues around Donegal and other parts of the country, as well as releasing their debut CD, An Chad Ghlin.
While the events of the week each year draw legions of fans of their own, the heart of the music school remains in the classes and workshops held for musicians, singers and songwriters; and in the young musicians that the classes have inspired over the years.
This year's workshops included classes in the flute with tutors Clodach McGrory, Tara Bingham and Harry Bradley; the fiddle with Geraldine Boyle, Michelle O'Brien, Ciarn Maonaigh and Aidan O'Donnell; the bodhrn with Seamus O'Kane; the tin whistle with Anna Friel and Conor Day; the uilleann pipes with Gabriel McKeon; guitar with Mark Kelly; singing with Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhrde; dancing with Connie McKelvey and Ann Connaghan; the bouzouki with Paul Doyle; the accordion with Peter Browne; composition and arrangement of Irish music with Neil Martin; the concertina with Caitln Nic Gabhann; and songwriting with Trona N Dhomhnail and Gaoth Dobhair poet Mire Wren.
More information on the winter school is available at the web site, www.frankiekennedy.com.