Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2018

The 46th Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Ireland. Saturday 7th July to Sunday 15th July, 2018.

Sráid na Cathrach, Co. an Chláir  7ú Iúil - 15ú Iúil.

Lectures and Seminars

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


Saturday 7th July

8.00 pm - Oscailt Oifigiúil/Official Opening


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.


Tuesday 10th July 3.00 pm

Musician tribute to be announced shortly.


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.

Dr. Fintan Vallely.

Ciarán Mac Mathúna.

Photo: Tony Kearns.

Louise Mulcahy.

Photo: Anita Sadowska.

Dr. Verena Commins.



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

Information regarding this lecture on Monday 9th July will be published here shortly.



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

Information regarding this lecture on Thursday 12th July at 2pm will be published here shortly.


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 2pm, 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.

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