Posted by: mdmusingsie | June 28, 2012

Old to new, near to far

Tunes in the Church concerts are a showcase for traditional Irish music artists from the new and up and coming to the established, highly regarded and everything in between.  Although there’s a published lineup for the concerts, some days there are surprise performers as well.

Such well know names accordion players like Charlie Piggot, one of the founding members of super group Dé Danann; Séamus Begley newest member of the group Téada; as well as renowned sean-nós singers Lillis O’Laoire and Peadar O Ceannabhain have been recent performers.  The next generation proves equally talented with the likes of piper Maitiu O’Casaide, Eoin Ó Beaglaoich, Saileog Ni Cheanabhain, Áine Bird, Breda and Claire Keville and many more.  While all possessing an abundance of talent, a few standouts recently include accordion player Eoin O’Neil who excels in taking a traditional tune and making it his own and also has a uniquely versatile flare in his playing rarely seen in the accordion; sean-nós singer Assumpta Canny O’Neil who maintains an incredibly crisp, clear voice while still displaying all the traditional ornamentation of that style of singing; Michelle Mulcahy, a multi-instrumentalist who absolutely dazzles on the harp and has just released her debut solo CD Suaimhneas (Tranquility) which I’m enjoying immensely; and I can’t leave out Jack Talty who’s wit is only matched by his dancing fingers on the concertina and Cormac Begley, host of the concerts and despite his claims to the contrary, intelligent and equally talented concertina player who together released a very enjoyable CD Na Fir Bolg.

The audience is as variable as the artists, as it’s made up primarily of tourists, with the odd (semi-)local like myself and a few other regulars.  Some nights there are less than 10 attendees and on others well over 30.   Recently, a group was visiting from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, where I grew up.  Included was a seven year old girl named Kelly Johnson who has been studying Irish dance and performed a number to the delight of the audience and performers alike.  I met a nice group of Australian’s in Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and having come all this way, doing some additional touring around the country.  Each day it’s different including couples from Cape Breton, Canada and Arkansas, United States.  From the conversations I’ve had, the visitors have really enjoyed the concerts.  Too bad they aren’t around long enough to attend several.

For the sake of the artists who come from all over the country, it would be nice to see consistently high attendance.  Sadly, I found out that one of the biggest opportunities for audience members, the tour operators, require a cut of the ticket sales that exceed what the artists receive.  Capitalism at its worst. That notwithstanding, it is certainly a worthwhile excursion and I would highly recommend it for anyone visiting (or even staying in) Galway.

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  1. what a treat….seems like a small venue and you get a talented groups performing with a variety of instruments…what was that thing that looks like a large flute with a 45 degree angle smaller pipe(?) on the Cormac Begley, Breda Keville, Maitiu O’Casaide shot?

    • That’s the Uilleann Pipes – the Irish version of the bagpipes where the right elbow supplies the air to the bellows on the left.

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