A variety of topics related to Irish music including music history, heritage and culture will be featured at the O’Flaherty Retreat. Our enrichment classes serve to provide a context for Irish music as we strengthen our ties to this tradition. See SCHEDULE for the times and days of these classes.
A Celebration of Women in Uilleann Piping 1800s-1900s – Louise Mulcahy
The uilleann pipes is an instrument long associated with male players and throughout history women have been in the minority within this tradition. Historical records and publications have featured many male performers but little documentation is available on the women who played the uilleann pipes during the 19th and 20th Century. Louise Mulcahy has engaged in extensive research in this unique area of Irish traditional music. An internationally renowned piper and flute player, Louise has unearthed valuable historical material, photographs and documentation on these important women. This pioneering project is of cultural, musical and historical significance and is a unique part of Irish music history. Louise presented her research work on women in uilleann piping in a landmark documentary for TG4 titled Mná na bPíób in 2021. She was also named as one of the Stars of 2018 in the Irish Times culture review. Louise is bridging the gender divide “aided in no small measure by her ground breaking musicianship” – The Irish Times
A Closer Look at Planxty’s “After the Break” – Dave Curley & Colin Farrell
One of the greatest Irish trad bands ever and arguably their best recording, Planxty and its “After the Break” will be remembered by listening to Dave Curley and Colin Farrell performing each track live and discussing the musicians, tunes and songs that made the album so monumental when it was released and remains so influential to this day. Here is what will be played in class as time allows:
- “The Good Ship Kangaroo” (song) – 4:33
- “Double Jigs: East at Glendart / Brian O’ Flynn / Pay the Reckoning” (double jigs) – 3:43
- “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure” (song) – 7:48
- “Reels: The Blackberry Blossom / Lucky in Love / The Dairy Maid” (reels) – 3:11
- “The Rambling Siúler” (song) – 4:19
- “The Lady On The Island / The Gatehouse Maid / The Virginia / Callaghan’s” (reels) – 4:58
- “The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes” (song) – 6:10
- “Lord McDonald / The Chattering Magpie” (reels) – 4:12
- “The Bonny Light Horseman” (song) – 4:31
- “Smeceno Horo” (Bulgarian dance) – 4:32
The History of Accompaniment in Irish Music – Alan Murray
An exploration into trends and styles in accompaniment, with a focus on the prominent styles and figures of the 20th century. We’ll listen to examples and talk about the relationships formed between the music, the players and the instrumentation over the years.
The Irish Harp Revival of the Early-Mid 20th Century – Cormac De Barra
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Irish harp was had nearly faded from Irish life, but over the years that followed, the harp experienced a monumental revival. Cormac De Barra will share his research on the subject and sheds light on how the Irish harp has returned to prominence in the cultural life and music traditions of the Irish people.
Less Common Meters – Rebecca McGowan
Barndances, slides, hop jigs, mazurkas, and other less common meters… dance steps give the characteristic lift of these tunes, and the music makes the steps move. For musicians and dancers alike, we’ll get into the rhythms and feeling of these meters by learning basic steps that ebb and flow with the musical lift (focusing on simple social dance steps). Both musicians and dancers are welcome to come to listen, chat, and dance.
Metrical Crossover in Irish Traditional Music – Matt Cranitch
This enrichment class will explore the possibilities and limitations that become manifest in both the melodic and rhythmic facets of a tune as it crosses-over from one tune-type to another. Although such metamorphosis (or transformation or conversion) is not a major feature in the Irish tradition, a number of interesting occurrences exist across the range of tune-types including airs, songs and the different dance-rhythms. In this presentation, various examples will be considered, including the jig ‘The Humours of Drinagh’ and its reel version ‘The Banks of the Ilen’, as well as ‘Smith’s Reel’ and the hornpipe ‘Kitty’s Wedding’. The well-known reel ‘Rolling in the Ryegrass’ will be realised as a polka, and reference will also be made to jig and polka versions of ‘The Connachtman’s Rambles’ from the manuscripts of Pádraig O’Keeffe (1887–1963), the Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master.
The Music of Liam O’Flynn – Colm Broderick
Liam O’Flynn is acknowledged as Ireland’s foremost exponent of the uillean pipes and has brought the music of the instrument to a worldwide audience. In 1972, he was a co-founder of the legendary band Planxty, and as a solo artist, he collaborated with many prominent Irish artists promoting the great music heritage of Ireland to future generations. This class will take a closer look at Liam’s important contribution to traditional Irish music — his virtuosity, repertoire and ornamentation — that has inspired so many pipers and musicians of all stripes.
New York in the Eighties: Irish Music at the Eagle – Mick McQuaid
In the eighties, Mick McQuaid produced a series of Irish concerts at the Eagle Tavern in New York, featuring Matt Molloy, Liam O’Flynn, Josie McDermott (one of his last appearances), Frankie Kennedy and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (their first US appearance), and many other luminaries of that era. Mick insisted on full recording rights to these concerts, but never made any use of them … until now. This is your opportunity to hear some of the best Irish music of a bygone era! Mick will play some recordings, supplemented by one or two anecdotes about the performances.
Sí Beag Sí Mór and More: The Music of Turlough O’Carolan and other Irish Bardic Musicians – Angela Botzer
In this enrichment class we will explore the music and life of the prominent and influential Irish harper and composer Turlough O’Carolan, (1670-1738), and listen to examples of the O’Carolan tunes and the melodies of Thomas Moore and others. We will examine the influence of classical and baroque music into this traditional Irish music form. Also, we will listen to examples of tunes of this period on the harp and other traditional Irish music instruments. We will discuss the bardic influences in Irish traditional music and poetry, and learn about the patrons and “planxtys” dedicated to these tunes, and how this music fits into today’s traditional music seisiúns.
Variations – Improvisation in Irish Music – Oisin McAuley
Traditional Irish music has “strayed from the tune” across the years making some melodies nearly unrecognizable. This class will explore how we can approach future improvisations in respectful but highly interesting ways going forward.