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New summer school to boost tourism

BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A NEW summer school which promises to be a huge attraction for traditional music enthusiasts is beginning in Donegal this July.

Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish Traditional Music will be held at Glenswilly National School from Monday, July 16 to Friday, July 20.

The new summer school is the brain child of well-known New Mills based musician and music teacher Paul Harrigan who also runs classes with Ceol na Coille throughout the year.

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He said: “There is such a wealth of top quality musicians and tutors in Donegal that students don’t need to travel far afield to learn new techniques and styles.

“The idea o behind the summer school was to give kids an opportunity to enhance their ongoing lessons by learn from other tutors, but more importantly to give them a chance to meet others playing the same instruments.”

Tutors confirmed so far we have Roisin McGrory (fiddle), Melanie Houton (fiddle), Edel McLaughlin (piano accordion), Shane Bracken (concertina), Donna Harkin (button accordion) and Paula Houton (flute, whistle) with more to be announced.

The Burnfoot native said there is a big emphasis on fun and enjoyment of music with Ceol na Coille. “We want to show them that there’s more to their weekly classes,” he said.

The classes are for all ages and all levels, but one unique class that may be of interest to beginners is Paul’s Introduction to Irish Traditional Music, a concept which has been tried and tested with great success with his young students at Ceol na Coille.

“This class, aimed at 6 to 8-year-olds, gives students a chance to try out all the different instruments without the expense of purchasing them.”

The inspiration behind the school comes from Paul’s own personal experience attending school as a youngster and learning from his very well-known tutors.

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“I attended my first school at the age of 9 when I went to the first ever fiddle summer school in Glencolmcille and was taught by Dermot McLaughlin and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

“At that age to see and learn from such a high calibre of musicians, gave you a real buzz and new sense of vibrancy and inspiration, I went home and practised for weeks.”

Paul has already been taking bookings with families from home and abroad deciding to tie the summer school in with a family holiday in Donegal.

“There is a family coming up from Limerick and then a family in Florida saw the school advertised on our website and the father told me his daughter played the classical violin and wanted to learn Irish traditional music.

“He told me she was listening to two Irish fiddle players on her iPod – Oisin McAuley (Carrick) and Tommy Peoples (St Johnston),” he laughed.

Paul will also welcome an American documentary film crew to the summer school, making a film on the passing-on of musical traditions and has also had people in Belgium, France and Germany contact him about the school.

“From a tourism perspective this could hopefully provide a real boost for the area and what you find with summer school is, the families do tend to return.”

Paul said he has received a lot of support from both the local community in Glenswilly and other institutions. “I’ve been living in the area for five years now and the people here have been just great and the principal and board of management of the national school have kindly allowed us to use their facilities for the school.

“I also have to say thank you to Joan Crawford (Fáilte Ireland), Iga Lawne at Donegal Gathering 2012 and Sarah Meehan at Earagail Arts Festival for their support and helping me to promote the event,” he said.

Bookings for Ceol na Coille are now being taken. If you would like to find out more information log on to www.ceolnacoille.ie or calling Paul directly on Tel 087 677 46 01.

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