Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2019

The 47th Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Ireland. Saturday 6th July to Sunday 14th July, 2019.

Sráid na Cathrach, Co. an Chláir  6ú Iúil - 14ú Iúil.

Lectures and Seminars

Please note that details below apply to the 2018 Summer School. Updates will be posted in due course.

All lectures and seminars will be held in the Community Centre.


Saturday 7th July

8.00 pm - Oscailt Oifigiúil/Official Opening by renowned musician Joe Burke.


8.30 pm - Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture: Irish Music in Irish Art:

using the visible to understand the unspoken. Presented by Dr. Fintan Vallely, musician, lecturer and author.


Monday 9th July 3.00 pm

Lecture: The broadcasting career of Ciarán Mac Mathúna (1955-2005). Presented by Harry Bradshaw, traditional music researcher and former producer with RTÉ Radio.


Wednesday 11th July 3.00 pm

Lecture: Flying the Flag: a celebration of women in uilleann piping. Presented by Louise Mulcahy, musician, researcher and lecturer.


Thursday 12th July 2.00 pm

Lecture: Piping and traditional music in Wales. Presented by Ceri Rhys Matthews, musician, lecturer and record producer.


Saturday 14th July 2.30 pm

Lecture: Bronzing Tradition: monuments, commemoration and the Willie Clancy Summer School(1974-2013). Presented by Dr Verena Commins, musician and lecturer in Irish Studies at NUI Galway.



Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture

Irish Music in Irish Art: using the visible to understand the unspoken

Dr. Fintan Vallely


Dr. Fintan Vallely is a musician, lecturer and writer on traditional music. Author of the first tutor for the Irish flute, and editor of the Companion to Irish Traditional Music, he was The Irish Times’ Traditional music critic in the 1990s, and has written and been editor on several books. His PhD study was on the flute in Ireland, he has researched the history of the Irish tambourine/bodhrán, and since 2013 has been working on Compánach, an audio-visual concert based on the Companion, the recording of which will be launched at this year’s summer school.


Irish painters from the 18th century on have occasionally portrayed music in Ireland, sometimes the music of ‘the plain people’. We have harpers representing a romantic view of the past; we have pipers as the continuation, or relic, of indigenous traditions; and we have fiddlers and dancers, occasional whistlers and flute players; in the twentieth century we have accordions, the session and the bodhrán. Each period of this art is a valuable technical record of what was and is, but each also indicates what was acceptable, valued and desirable. In such a story of attitudes, the absences are as important as the presences, and in this paper Dr. Fintan Vallely draws on both well-known and little-known art images, guided by opinions of experts, including NPU archivist Terry Moylan, and Dr. Sighle Breathnach (daughter of Breandán Breathnach) former Curator of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland (1998–2009), and others to interpret the contribution of visual art to our understanding of the music of Ireland in both the past and present. This lecture will be presented on Saturday 8th July at 8pm.


The broadcasting career of Ciarán MacMathúna (1955-2005)

Harry Bradshaw


Harry Bradshaw, radio producer, record producer, sound engineer, and researcher and lecturer on Irish traditional music, received the Gradam na gCeoltoiri Award at the annual TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards in 2008 in recognition of his contribution to Irish traditional music studies.

He was born in Wicklow and later moved to Dublin where he worked in the Eamon Andrew Studios before moving to RTÉ as a sound engineer in 1968. He became a radio producer there in 1979 and produced many noted Irish traditional music programmes, like The Long Note, which ran for 17 years, and The Irish Phonograph.  Other programmes with which he was involved were Folkland, Music of the People and An Droichead Beo.

He has recorded over 1000 individual singers and musicians and produced albums for Claddagh Records and Gael Linn. Harry Bradshaw is regarded as a leading expert in the re-mastering of archival recordings and has re-mastered some 15,000 items from RTÉ’S early field recordings. He has often lectured at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and this year his lecture, on Monday 9th July at 3pm, will be on the collector and broadcaster Ciarán MacMathúna.


Ciarán MacMathúna was an important music collector and broadcaster in the second half of the 20th century. His Radio Éireann programmes, based on his collecting work from the mid-1950s, brought the music he recorded in different parts of the country to the attention of a national audience. His broadcasts were one of the elements which aroused public interest in the old music and songs and his work in these field was highly influential in the traditional

music revival.


Flying the Flag: a celebration of women in uilleann piping

Louise Mulcahy


Louise Mulcahy is a musician, television and radio contributor, researcher, lecturer and teacher. She is a member of the renowned Mulcahy family of musicians with her sister Michelle and father Mick.


Uilleann piping has experienced a renaissance since the foundation of Na Píobairí Uilleann in 1968, including recognition as an important and unique cultural heritage symbol by UNESCO in December 2017. Na Píobairí Uilleann was formed by uilleann pipers in 1968 in order to preserve what was believed to be a key part of Irish cultural heritage, but which at that time was a threatened art form. Since then there has been a marked increase in the number of women playing the uilleann pipes. This lecture, on Wednesday 11th July at 3pm, will look at the presence of female uilleann pipers who have upheld the principles of the tradition pre and post the foundation of Na Píobairí Uilleann.




















Piping and traditional music in Wales

Ceri Rhys Matthews


Ceri Rhys Matthews was born in Swansea and studied Fine Art and Painting at Swansea Art School and Maidstone College of Art. However he replaced the paint brushes with a variety of musical instruments including the pibgorm, wooden concert flute and guitar. His musical activity is diverse and includes recording, touring and teaching and he plays traditional and new tunes and song airs from South and West Wales.


 A  key figure  in the renaissance of Welsh musical traditions,  he  has been  described by Julian May as “a one man Welsh music industry,” and Brian Vallely credits him with bringing back from extinction the Welsh pipes and [creating] “a beautiful music informed by the Welsh language and song tradition.”  He has produced The Rough Guide to the Music of Wales for World Music Network, an Anthology of Welsh Music and Song for Smithsonian Folkways,  recorded nine CDs of solo and band music and produced 25 CDs for various record labels.

He teaches at various Summer Schools, is a visiting tutor at the BMusic Degree in Folk and Traditional Music at Newcastle University and at the BMusic  Degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in  Cardiff. He has lectured on Welsh music at the Universities of Limerick, New York, Bangor and Loughborough.


For over two decades Ceri has been active in promoting traditional culture in South and West Wales and runs a residential music school called Yscolan in Pembrokeshire. He plays with fiddler Christine Cooper, the band Carreg Bica and the band Fernhill, which he founded in 1995.


His lecture at this year’s Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy on Thursday 12th July at 2pm will focus on the many types of music that have historically informed Welsh musical expression. Occasionally these overlap with Irish and British traditions but at other times remain fiercely vernacular and localised. The Cymric language and the industrialisation of Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries will be explored as central to the understanding of present day music in Wales.


Bronzing Tradition: monuments, commemoration and the Willie Clancy Summer School (1974-2013)

Dr. Verena Commins


Dr. Verena Commins is a button accordion and piano player of Mayo origins who grew up amongst the Irish diaspora in Coventry. She currently lectures at NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and specialises in Irish music and dance studies. Her research addresses concepts of re-traditionalisation, festival, commemoration and authenticity in the appraisal of Irish traditional music contexts in Ireland and the diaspora. Her PhD, entitled Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy: Transmission, performance and commemoration of Irish traditional music, 1973-2012 was completed at NUI Galway.


Celebrating Irish traditional music and culture by raising public statues and monuments is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Indeed, the first such monument is the bronze relief plaque of Willie Clancy, unveiled at Ballard Cemetery during the second Willie Clancy Summer School in 1974. Forty years later, 2013, saw the unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of Willie Clancy. Unlike the peripheral location of the first plaque, this intricate and detailed portrait commands a central and visual location on the main street of Miltown Malbay.


As public symbols, monuments are part of a wider cultural landscape that reflect both perspectives on the past and their contemporary interpretation. This talk, on Saturday 14th July at 2.30pm, examines the role and legacy of Irish traditional music through the prism of commemoration. By briefly examining the Irish monumental landscape preceding 1974, it goes on to contextualises the two monuments to Willie Clancy, using them to neatly bookend the visual commemoration of a predominately sound and sounded culture during the time-frame 1974-2013.



Marion McCarthy, Cora Doyle, Máire Ní Ghráda, Louise Mulcahy and Síle Friel performing onstage during Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2016. Photo: Tony Kearns.


Dr. Fintan Vallely

Harry Bradshaw

Photo courtesy of TG4.

Ciarán Mac Mathúna

Photo: Tony Kearns.

Louise Mulcahy

Photo: Anita Sadowska.

Ceri Rhys Matthews


Dr. Verena Commins.

A young piper plays beside the statue of Willie Clancy in Miltown Malbay, July 2016.

Photo: Tony Kearns.

© Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2018   Website: Tony Kearns