A group of 21 traditional musicians, dancers and singers from Letterkenny Comhaltas Branch will fly out to Rodez, the principle town in France’s south-west department of the Aveyron, early on Saturday morning 29th September and return again on Tuesday evening October 2nd. While there, they will meet and play with French Traditional musicians from this area which is steeped in Occitan culture going back to the 11th and 12th Century troubadours who wandered this region from the Pyrenees to the Alps, performing their music and songs as wandering minstrels and cultural ambassadors.
On the Friday night of the April 2010 Hugh Mc Govern Weekend French musicians from two traditional folk groups, ‘Stockfish’ and ‘Drahla’ came to our concert in an Grianán in search of Irish music. The Branch secretary, Paddy Tunney met them and invited them to the Saturday and Sunday night sessions. They duly came along and there was a great Franco-Irish musical sharing. Paddy remained in contact with Didier Maury, who had organised this trip and the group’s 4th visit to Ireland. In the summer Paddy and his wife Fiona visited the Aveyron and met with Didier and played with the group in the Abbey of Comberoumal overlooking the Millau Viaduct and with Yves, Genevieve and Pierre Lascumes in the famous village of Conques. The Tunneys returned in August 2011 courtesy of Didier and the idea of a branch trip was conceived during a hike near the Tarn river gorge.
The two groups will perform a shared repertoire which has been learned specifically from the other group’s music and will be aired on Saturday night at a ‘bal’and concert entitled ‘Irish Connections’ in the local salle des fetes in the village of Nuces. There will be relaxed occasions to share music and culture on Sunday and Monday nights and the Irish group will be shown some of the superb landscapes and sights of this area during the days. Letterkenny Comhaltas hopes that this visit will signal a long musical association with fellow musicians in the Aveyron.