last updated 11 February 2000
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Willie Clancy Summer School History
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Obituaries for Willie Clancy
Burial of the piper - Willie Clancy
By Eithne EarleyThe Clare Champion, 2 February 1973Times come when we are carried back through our progressions and developments, divested of our sophistication and big words to be left sprawling on our roots. Such a time was Friday, January 26 - the day the piper Willie Clancy was buried. Willie had the art of reverting us to our roots. The man was his music and his music came to us through generations of our piping and singing ancestry.
Willie played the pipes, tin whistle and concert flute and although close friends maintain that it was on the tin whistle that he excelled - he is best known for his piping and is considered to have been one of the supreme exponents of this art.
His family were a part of the great musical tradition that is West Clare's. Willie's father was a close friend of Garret Barry, the blind piper from Inagh. Johnnie Doran, the travelling piper, had the greatest amount of influence on Willie. Both of them came to untimely deaths, Johnnie Doran at forty-five and Willie fifty-four since last Christmas Eve.
A master carpenter by trade, Willie spent many years in Dublin and England. His music has been broadcast many times over radio and he has made many appearances on RTE. His widow Doreen said that he disliked making television appearances and always tried to avoid publicity. Before Christmas a French TV team made a film about Irish traditional music in which Willie appeared.
During the past year Mrs Clancy said that he stayed at home a lot and that he liked to listen more than play. He was a keen, sharp and sympathetic listener and once said, "Won't you hear nice notes with a very bad musician sometimes?"
His home at Flag Road, Miltown Malbay, was where many musicians from all over the world came to meet Willie Clancy, and listen not only to his music but also to his witty philosophical conversation. There must have been times when he was annoyed at invasions on his privacy but he said that he always tried to be courteous because he was conscious of the help all the visitors were to the town of Miltown Malbay.
But, clearly he loved people and proof of this was in the way he always remembered people. A young traditional musician, Roy Galvin from Limerick, in whom Willie took an interest, said of him: "If you met Willie Clancy once, you came away feeling like he was an old friend."
Although not a fluent Irish speaker, it could be said that Willie played through Irish. He believed that without a knowledge of Irish it was impossible to phrase the music properly. In an interview with Muiris O Rochain and Harry Hughes for the magazine Dal gCais, Willie Clancy said: "The Irish language is the greatest music of all."
He made his last appearance at a concert for the Old Folks in Miltown Malbay. This was sadly typical of the man and at his graveside Seamus Ennis spoke of Willie's special love for the very old.
It was a very sad Seamus Ennis that referred to the void Willie Clancy's death had left in his heart. "I knew him as a young man," said Mr Ennis, "and watched him become one of the top pipers in Ireland. Yet, even when he became internationally known he remained one of ourselves."
The people who packed the church in Miltown Malbay on Friday morning last came to bid farewell not only to a great piper, but as Ciaran Mac Mathuna put it, "a great human being."
The Sean O Riada Mass was celebrated by Rev J O'Keeffe, CC, Miltown Malbay, assisted by Rev John Hogan, St Flannan's College, Ennis, who is Chairman of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in Clare and the Rev M Culligan, CC, Miltown Malbay. The master of ceremonies was the Rev Seamus O'Dea, CC, Cross. Rev C O'Carroll represented the Bishop of Killaloe, Most Rev Dr Harty.
The lessons were read by Sean Mac Donnchadha, Ahascragh, Micheal O Freil and Muiris O Rochain, Miltown Malbay. The Mass was sung the Cul Aodha Choir led by Peadar O Riada, eldest son of the late Sean O Riada. At Sean O Riada's funeral a little over a year ago, Willie Clancy played.
It was now Willie's turn to be lamented and during the Mass, Peadar O'Loughlin on the pipes played "I am asleep and don't waken me"; John Kelly on violin played "Dark Lochnagar" and Seamus Ennis echoed all the sadness of the funeral with his playing of "The end of the Fox Chase".
As three kilted pipers from the Tulla Pipe Band led the funeral procession into Ballard cemetery, the sea lashing on the coast behind Miltown was visible through the driving rain. Gathered at the graveside were many people renowned for either renderings of traditional music or their work toward preserving it. Among them were Tony MacMahon, Paddy Maloney, Liam Og O Floinn, Christy Moore, Miko Russell, Ciaran Mac Mathuna and his wife Dolly MacMahon. Also present was Mrs Ruth O Riada.
Seamus Ennis spoke of his dead friend; Peadar O'Loughlin played a lament; prayers were recited and all the while television cameras whirred on their way towards showing a nation a little about the man that was Willie Clancy.
No matter what film of Willie Clancy remains, no matter how clearly recordings will prove his greatness in years to come or how great the legacy he has left to young musicians it is as true to say of him as it was of Sean O Riada or the dead in Tomas O Criomhthain's book, "Ni bheidh a leitheid ann aris."
Tribute to Willie Clancy
By Junior CrehanMusic - Bruach na Carraight Baine
The Clare Champion, 2 February 1973I am writing these lines with tears in my eyes
For a comrade who now has departed
And my soul is heavy with grief and woe
And I'm almost broken hearted,
For the voice of the one that we'll surely miss
A voice that is gone forever
Oh! Willie asthore we'll see you no more
Oh! never, never, never.
There's a gap in tradition that ne'er will be filled
A wide gap that ne'er shall be mended
On the hill o'er town we laid you down
'Twas sad that your young life ended.
Let's hope that we'll meet in that brighter land
With music and song forever
Aroon, aroon you were taken too soon
And your music we'll hear again never.
You are up in high heaven I hope tonight
With your father and mother who bore you
And the Dorans and Rowsome and Scully and Tadg
The musicians who went before you
By night and by day for you I will pray
To the Blessed God above you
That His Angels may gather you under their wings
Is the prayer of one who loved you.
The Clare Champion, 2 February 1973
Tribute from CCEWillie Clancy was one of Ireland's foremost traditional musicians and through his expertise enjoyed an international reputation. Visitors who came to this country in pursuit of our native music invariably knew of this great piper and many of them visited him in Miltown Malbay. He had a storm of knowledge on Irish folklore and his love of Irish traditional music was exceeded only by his love of the Irish language.
While Ireland is fortunate to have many recordings of this fine and lovable artiste, his passing will leave a vacuum which will never be filled. All who knew Willie Clancy will remember him with pride and sorrow. Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam dhilis.
Labhras O Murchu
Willie Clancy - A Beloved Genius
An appreciation of Willie Clancy by his life-long and close friend Martin TaltyTreoir, March-April 1973The Requiems are sung; the Burial Rites have been performed; the thousands of friends and musicians who stood in the pouring rain to pay their last respects to Willie have returned to their respective homes all over Ireland but I can still see the unforgettable picture of musicians and admirers from all over the country joining the children present and unashamedly shedding tears as Seamus Ennis spoke the last tribute to the memory of that beloved genius - Willie Clancy. So with the ceremonials behind us, an icy stillness settled on his native parish, we try to look again in the cold light of reason and ask ourselves what manner of man was he who during his lifetime filled many hearts with gladness and joy, and now that he had gone he left a void of unequalled proportions over the whole country. His extraordinary ability and versatility as a musician; his great genius as a performer; his great and lovable personality are the first thoughts that enter one's mind, yet great though these qualities were, the unassuming simplicity of his personality must rank as his greatest characteristic.
Let us wander back the road of memory and try to reconstruct this gentle person. My first impression from an early age is a curly headed boy, who struggled for mastery of the Penny Whistle and who sang the songs learned at his parents' knees, a teenage stripling standing 6ft 2ins in his stocking feet, broad-shouldered with fine physical lines now finding sound and expression from the flute family such as I have never before heard, or dancing - Irish Step Dancing which he learned from Tadgh Casey. It was obvious from the beginning that he was destined to be a Piper, as for years before he ever saw the instrument he would talk for hours on Garrett Barry and all the stories his father, Gilbert Clancy, had told him about the great Piper of the last century. I was with him when he first saw the pipes being played by the late Johnnie Doran, and straight away a friendship was struck up between boy and man which culminated in Johnnie becoming his first teacher - and what an apt pupil Willie turned out to be. In a very short time he had incorporated the intricate virtuosity of his master, with the flowing, meaningful and racey music of his father and produced an almost super-human expression of music which embodied everything that is really part of the true Gaelic Soul of Ireland.
In his early 20's he went to Dublin, and immediately made contact with another virtuoso of the Chanter - John Potts. John who was now entering into old age was deeply impressed by the young Clareman and a friendship which lasted to Mr Potts' death began. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr Potts, yet I feel I knew him personally from listening to Willie constantly telling of his qualities and ability with the most minute detail.
Next we find Willie in London, later in Warsaw, Brittany and in different places all over the world carrying the banner of Irish Culture. We eventually find him back in Miltown Malbay where he married his wife Doreen and settled down to consider all the aspects of making Uillean Pipes and reeds. Here the really serious side of Willie came to the fore whilst he and his very close friend Sean Reid of Ennis researched in great detail all the aspects of providing equipment, etc, for such a project.
In Miltown during his leisure hours he made himself available without compliment to play, sing and share his humour with hundreds of people who thronged to Miltown each year to meet and hear him.
Treoir, March-April 1973
Armagh TributeThree members of Armagh Pipers' Club - Peter Mackey, Jim Smith and Brian Vallely - travelled to Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, at the weekend for the funeral of one of Ireland's greatest Uileann pipers, Willie Clancy. They laid a wreath on the grave on behalf of the club members.
Mr Brian Vallely, a prominent member of Armagh Pipers' Club, said of Willie:
"Willie Clancy had links through his father, Gilbert Clancy, with the legendary Garrett Barry, the blind travelling piper who in turn had been influenced by the Pipers of the early 19th Century.
"Willie's music was not the only authentic voice of the Irish tradition, but was the expression of his own incomparable personality. His combination of wit, deep humanity, musical interpretation and humility made him the object of almost veneration by all who met him. For the past seven or eight years, members of the Armagh Pipers' Club have been travelling down to Clare to listed to the music, songs and stories of Willie Clancy. On one memorable occasion he was our guest at a music session at O'Hanlon's in Mullaghbawn. We never thought that within a couple years we would be mourning his death.
"We will never forget Willie Clancy. His funeral service with Sean O'Riada's choir and laments played on fiddle by John Kelly and on pipes by Peadar O'Loughlin and Seamus Ennis was poignant farewell to the last of the Irish bards. May his soul rest in peace."
The start of the Summer School
The Clare Champion, 16 February 1973
Willie Clancy Memorial FundA meeting was held in Miltown Malbay on Saturday with a view to founding a Willie Clancy memorial fund in order to pay him tribute and to perpetuate the memory of a great musician.
At the meeting an interim committee was formed pending the formation of a National Committee. The interim committee decided to institute a fund, out of which a lasting memorial to Willie Clancy, taking the form of a sculpture of Willie and a Summer school for musicians, in Miltown Malbay, where the main emphasis would be on piping. However, a final decision was deferred as to the form it would take but it was decided to set up the fund immediately.
Pe rud a deafer beidh se bunaithe ar an traidisiun Ghaelach go raibh gradh chomh mor sin ag Willie do. Leanfar ar aghaidh leaidh meanna Willie an teanga agus an ceol Gaelach a leathnu agus a fhorbairt.
The local Committee which will be responsible for the receipt of subscriptions are as follows.
Chairman: Junior Crehan, Mullagh; Secretary: Martin Talty, Miltown Malbay; Treasurer: Muirish O Rochain, Sraid na Cathrach; Committee: Michael O Frighil, Padraig O Maoileoin, Padraig Mac Mathuna, Jimmy Ward, of Miltown Malbay, J C Talty and Michael Falsey of Quilty, Peadar O Lochlainn, Fairyhill, Connolly, Peggy Crotty, Kilrush, and Sean Reid, Gort Road, Ennis.
Treoir, March-April 1973
Perpetuating the MemoryPreliminary meetings have already been held in Miltown Malbay with a view to establishing a Willie Clancy Foundation which will not alone honour the memory of that prince of men, but will also endeavour to foster and cultivate the music, lore and language which he held so dear. Already plans for Scoil Eigse are being drawn up in conjunction with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and it is hoped to launch this project in July or early August next. Those who wish to help the foundation may do so by contacting Muiris O Rochain, Runai, Sraid na Cathrach, Co an Chlair.
The generous response to the memorial fund can be seen in these two letters.
ContributorsPatrick Kelly was a well known West Clare fiddler.
St Joseph's Hospital,
24 - 5 - 1973
I am enclosing £1, all I can aford. I have no objection to becom a Patron. I could collect the Hotel Bars in Lisdoonvarna with you a few nights in August and Sept.
Is Mise le Mass
Mairtín de Feorte
P S/ I expect the above will be my address for some time.
Find enclosed £1 my subscription to the Willie Clancy fund, and I wish ye every success. May poor Willies soul rest in Peace.
Yrs Very Sincerely
Patrick J Kelly
The following is a list of the earliest subscriptions given to Muiris O Rócháin in March 1973 for the Willie Clancy memorial fund. Many more subscriptions were received a short time later.
name address amount Francie O'Halloran Ennis £10.00 Sean Minogue Miltown Malbay £5.00 Breandán Breathnach Dublin £5.00 Mrs Bridie Cleary Miltown Malbay £2.00 Mr Jack Shine Moy £2.00 Junior Crehan Mullagh £3.00 Cissie Crehan Mullagh £1.00 Mrs Hurley Miltown Malbay £2.00 Marty Malley Miltown Malbay £1.00 Michael Cleary Killernan £1.00 Paddy Galvin Quilty £1.00 Michael Downes Clonlaheen £1.00 Fr Moroney Kilrush £1.00 Georgie Byrt Ennistymon £1.00 Peter O'Loughlin Kilmaley £5.00 Sean Reid Ennis £5.00 Eleanor O'Friel Miltown Malbay £5.00 Michael O'Friel Miltown Malbay £5.00 Rina Bean Ui Loingsigh Miltown Malbay £5.00 Kevin Scanlon Miltown Malbay £1.00 Thomas O'Friel Miltown Malbay £5.00 Harry Hughes Miltown Malbay £5.00 Pat Kelly Connolly £.50 Pádraig O'Maoileoin Miltown Malbay £5.00 Austin Burke Miltown Malbay £5.00 Mickey Hanrahan Kilmaley £5.00 Ollie Conway Mullagh £5.00 J C Talty Quilty £5.00 Séan Ach Dhonncha Galway £5.00
This is the programme for the first Summer School in 1973.
Programmes of the First and Second Summer Schools
Scoil Éigse Willie Clancy
Sráid na Cathrach
Co. an Chlair
Iúil 28 - Lunasa 4, 1973
Enrolment (all day at hall) Hall 8.30 p.m. Failtiu - Seamus de Brun, Uachtaran C.C.E. "Willie Clancy - the man and his music" - Seamus Mac Mathuna.
Cathaoirleach: Mairtin O Tailtigh.
10.00 p.m. Open-air dancing and sessions.
9.30 a.m. Aifreann I nGaeilge 12.00 Visit to Willie Clancy's Grave
Speaker: Sean Reid
Pipe lament: Peadar O Lochlainn
Wreath laying: Seamus de Brun
3.00 p.m. Seisiun Piobaireachta in square - Seamus Ennis, Sean Seery, Leon Rowsome, Sean Reid, Peadar O Lochlainn and others. Hall 9.00 p.m. Ceili - Tulla Ceili Band.
Vocational School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna - Sean-nós Singing, Fiddling, Piping, Adjudication and Teaching. Hall 11.30 a.m. Lecture on Modes - Pilib O Laoire Hall 2.15 p.m. Recitals - Seamus Ennis, Bobby Casey, Sean Keane and Tom Lenehan. School 3.30 p.m. Ranganna Hall 8.00 p.m. "Traditions and Folklife of Clare" - Muiris O Rochain
Cathaoirleach: Fr. John Hogan.
School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna Hall 11.30 a.m. Group discussion Hall 2.15 p.m. Recitals Hall 8.00 p.m. "Flute and Whistle" - Seamus Mac Mathuna
Cathaoirleach: Padraig O Maoileoin
School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna Hall 11.30 a.m. "Sean-nós singing" - lecture Sean Og O Tuama. Hall 2.15 p.m. Recitals - Seamus Ennis, Paddy Murphy, Bobby Casey, Cuil Aodha Singers, Seamus Mac Mathuna. School 3.30 p.m. Ranganna Hall 7.30 p.m. Concertina Session
Cathaoirleach: Junior Crehan
School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna Hall 11.30 a.m. Group discussion Hall 2.15 p.m. Recitals Hall 8.00 p.m. "Gaeilge an Chlair" - Aindrias O Gallacho
Cathaoirleach: Muiris O Rochain.
School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna Hall 11.30 a.m. Lecture on Piping Hall 2.15 p.m. Recitals Hall 8.00 p.m. "Collecting Folk music in Co. Clare" - Ciaran Mac Mathuna
Cathaoirleach: Labhras O Murchu
School 10.00 a.m. Ranganna Hall 11.30 a.m. Group discussion Hall 2.15 p.m. Ranganna Hall 8.00 p.m. Ceol-Choirm.
This programme is for the second Summer School in 1974.
Scoil Eigse (Willie Clancy)
(20u Iuil - 27u Iuil)
SATHARN 20u la Claru sa Halla, Sraid na Cathrach8.00 p.m. Leacht Pibli 'Pipes, Piping and Pipers' (B. Breathnach.)
Beidh na leachtanna boibli ar fad sa Halla.
DOMNACH 21u9.30 a.m. Aifreann I nGaeilge
3.00 p.m. Unveiling of Plaque at Willie Clancy's grave.
7.30 p.m. Opening of Piping Exhibition (B. Breathnach)
10.00 p.m. Ceili (Tulla Ceili Band)
DE LUAIN 22u10.00 a.m. sa Cheardscoil Ranganna do phiobair, feadog, feadog mhor, agus bheidhlin (Pipes, whistle, flute and fiddle.)
11 - 11.15 Sos do Tae
11.15 - 12.30 Ranganna
2.00 - 3.15 Demonstration in Hall by various Artists piping (Pat Mitchell i bhfeidhil)
3.30 Workshops sa Cheardscoil
8.00 Leacht Poibli (The manuscript tradition of Clare) an tAthair Padraig O'Fiannachta
DE MAIRT 23u10.00 a.m. Ranganna sa Cheardscoil
11.15 a.m. Ranganna
2.00 p.m. Demonstration in Hall - Bhfeidhlin. (John Kelly) i bhfeidhil.
3.30 p.m. Workshop sa Cheardscoil
8.00 Leacht Poibli Collecting Folksongs in Co. Clare. Tom Munnelly.
DE CEADAOIN: 24u10.00 a.m. Ranganna sa Cheardscoil
11.15 a.m. Ranganna sa Cheardscoil
2.00 p.m. Demonstration sa Halla. an Fheadog agus Fheadog mhor. (Seamus McMathunn i bhfeigi
8.00 Leacht Poibli Logaimneacha Iarthar an Chlair - Breandan O'Ciobhain
DEARDAOIN: 25u10.00 a.m. Ranganna.
11.15 a.m. Ranganna.
2.00 p.m. Demonstration Piobairi, amhranai bheibhlin 7rl.
3.30 p.m. Workshop.
8.00 p.m. Leacht Poibli - an Sean Nos. (Dr. Tomas O'Canainn)
DE hAOINE: 26u10.00 a.m. Ranganna
11.15 a.m. Ranganna
2.30 p.m. Demonstration sa Halla.
3.30 p.m. Workshop.
8.00 p.m. Oiche le ceoltoiri an Chlair agus a chairde Taispeanfar chomh maith an Soannan 'Ceol' C.
DE SATHARN: 27u10.00 a.m. Ranganna.
11.15 a.m. Ranganna
2.30 p.m. Demonstration
8.00 Chuirm Cheoil sa Halla I halla an Clochair Rinn na Spainneach.
The Clare Champion, 9 July 1982
Record Attendance for Summer SchoolThe Willie Clancy Summer School celebrated its first decade on Saturday night with an official opening by longtime patron, President Hillery. In its tenth year, the School also attracted a record number of student from twenty different countries. By Sunday morning, over five hundred had registered for the ten day programme.
At the opening, President Hillery pointed out that the School was a warm and living memorial to the great piper. He commented, "Its great purpose is to enliven and enrich the lives of people through their own immemorial music and dance."
He went on, "Tradition implies handing on to others and the work of this School ensures just that, through the lectures, recitals, workshops and demonstrations which are provided in such rich abundance on the programme."
The President also referred to the vitality and enjoyment of the School. "It is a school of good comradeship and laughter, the finest monument that one could imagine to one who was a most warmhearted and gentle man and an inspired musician who shared his great God-given talent so generously with so many."
Lectures, classes and sessions continue throughout the week in Miltown Malbay and the entire programme is costing in the region of £15,000. At Saturday's opening, School Director, Muiris O Rochain said that the event was entirely dependent on grants but he pointed out that the organisers had always endeavoured to keep the students' fee as low as possible.
This year, the School collected grants from the Miltown Malbay Association in New York, Clare County Council, The Arts Council, the American-Irish Foundation in California and the Ireland Fund, New York.
On Sunday afternoon, musicians from all over the country joined with local people in a tribute at Willie Clancy's graveside and on Saturday night some of the best known musicians in the traditional world are scheduled to perform at the Willie Clancy Memorial Concert.
The Clare Champion, 9 July 1982
Miltown's Rare Breed of FestivalThe Willie Clancy Summer School is in a class all its own, both as a summer school and festival. Rarely has any other scholarly gathering taken its subject so seriously and still boasted such an international register. No fleadh has brought such music into the streets and pubs for many years and no festival has attracted less unkind publicity.
One lecturer, who's been going back to Miltown Malbay since the school began, thinks its secret is the strong local input. "It's as much a gathering of local people paying tribute to one of their own. Local are not left out in the cold, as happens with some other summer schools. The majority of them remember Willie Clancy himself, so they have a natural advantage over outsiders."
Since Saturday night, when the school opened for the tenth time, Miltown has taken over as the traditional capital of the West. Sessions continued unabated throughout the week, with some of the best at Cleary's, Hennessey's and Friel's and others blazing a trail to Ollie Conway's in Mullagh.
President Hillery himself has set the pace at the official launching on Saturday night. He predicted, "What of the spontaneous music which will fill the streets when old friends meet again and a shared tune celebrates the meeting. That spontaneity is one of the glories of this school and long may it continue."
The President had earlier pointed out that Willie Clancy himself would have relished the atmosphere. "He would have thrilled to the magic of its great music and he would have been proud to see a rich tradition being transmitted with such enthusiasm."
In its concern with the living tradition, the President said it was a memorial more enduring than any bronze or stone, a tribute which should help compensate joint founders Muiris O Rochain and Martin Talty for a decade's hard work.
Saturday's opening was also a reminder of the Miltown Malbay people in America, when the Chairman of their New York Association, Jack Whelan, handed over a cheque for the school. The money was raised at a traditional concert earlier in the year, and is one of several US contributions to the event.
But most important of all, said Muiris O Rochain, were the students, and he had little idea ten years ago that the school would grow as it did. 1982 seems a vintage year, with close on five hundred students from twenty different countries on the register by Sunday morning.
By Saturday night, UCD folklorist Breandan Breathnach had also set the scholarly pace for the even. He told students that Willie Clancy himself was an excellent whistle player and was definitely better on the flute than he ever was on the pipes.
Discussing the legacy of the late piper, he pointed out that Willie had not started on the pipes until age twenty because there were no pipe makers in Clare and it was an expensive instrument at the time.
The hallmark of the great piper lay in varying a tune each time but it was not as a piper playing music or executing movements that he was remembered. His principal legacy lay in the fact that he had built up a repertoire of tunes found nowhere else and variants of tunes known outside Clare and in the fact that he was willing to pass them on.
The launch of the school and session also coincided with the launch of Dal gCais, now generally accepted as the journal of Clare. Now in its sixth edition, the magazine is edited by Harry Hughes, who points out that it's not issued every year just for the hell of it, but only when it's got something worthwhile on the people of Clare, their traditions and histories.
This issue pays special tribute to Seamus O'Duilearga, who went to North Clare at a time when the art of storytelling was on the point of dying out and "whose timely recordings saved those voices of a hidden Ireland." Both an tAthair Seamas O'Dea and Dr Maire MacNeill have contributed studies of Delargy while Hubert McDermott writes of James Joyce and Fr O'Dea also pays tribute to Stiofain O hEalaoire.
Clare's best known Clown, Johnny Patterson, gets honourable mentions and there are stories and poems from the likes of Desmond O'Grady and James Liddy. Dal gCais is on sale at a special price throughout the Willie Clancy School, which is about as good a reason for heading back to Miltown again this weekend.
By Mic Moroney in Milltown Malbay
Dazzling young musicians and top traditional players share tunes
The Irish Times, 8 July 1998The pubs are alive with the sound of traditional music in Milltown Malbay. Once again the Willie Clancy Summer School has drawn such a glut of musicians, music scholars and bemused tourists that all normal activity - save eating and drinking - has been brought to a standstill.
In the mornings thousands of young and old are packed into every schoolroom, hall and barn in the town, for workshops with musicians such as Paddy Glackin, Martin Hayes, Jackie Daly and Noel Hill.
Out in Spanish Point seasoned players like veteran Clare fiddlers Joe Ryan and Paddy Canny wander from room to room in St Joseph's secondary school, turning out tunes in the old style.
Large herds of set dancers throng Halla an Phobail for such bewildering courtship rituals as the West Clare battering set. Intensive workshops in uileann pipes - as much on maintenance as on playing - continue all day.
Liam O'Flynn turned up unannounced last night to a packed pipers' recital. Such events are greeted with fervid, even fundamentalist enthusiasm. Yesterday afternoon Paddy Glackin chaired an open demonstration of Donegal fiddle music, featuring the unique musical strains of Vincy, Jimmy and Peter Campbell from the Blue Stack Mountains.
There was also the venerable and rather shy Tommy Peoples fielding questions from people from America and Britain, and even relatives from the Irish Diaspora in the Cayman Islands.
The high-ranking traditional musicians who have descended on the place is astonishing: box-player Joe Burke, Leitrim whistler Sean Ryan, or veteran Sliabh Luachra accordionist Johnny O'Leary. Members of Clannad and Altan were also floating around, while the Sligo outfit, Dervish, was the engine of the session in Queally's pub.
Whatever your view of having children in pubs, it's quite something to see nine and 10-year-olds in spirited sessions wielding fiddles, concertinas and flutes. There are many young pipers in eveidence among the dazzling young musicians, such as box player Mick Lennon, playing his heart out in the Ocean Wave.
Recent legislation restricting street trading has muted the local colour somewhat. However, Paddy Clancy's Limerick-based company, Cairdín, has occupied one of the many vacant little shops in the town. A few stalls also brave the rain-spattered main street, trading in bohdráns and flutes, while one old fellow sold fiddles and flutes from the back of a car.
One woman sat in front of her house, selling sweaters in "aid of the missions", while the Legion of Mary caravan was parked up behind the Radio na Gaeltachta van, hopefully handing out miraculous medals.
Sadly, the honorary president of the festival, the great nonagenarian fiddler Junior Crehan, was not in evidence this year due to illness.
Go mbeirimíd beo ag an am seo arís.
The Clare Champion, 17 July 1998
Willie Brings £3 Million To MiltownThe 26th Willie Clancy Summer School officially closed in Miltown Malbay last Sunday but the final notes were still being sounded throughout the week. It was one of biggest schools in recent years and was worth over £3m. to the local economy and surrounding areas.
The school again enjoyed huge support from many countries and one of the features this year was the participation by the largest group ever from Norway. The Scottish Western Isles were also well represented and all took part in the classes and workshops in different disciplines.
All local accommodation was taken up and school participants and visitors had to travel to Kilkee, Cooraclare, Lahinch, Ennis and other locations to be accommodated.
Impromptu sessions were again a big part of the Summer School and were contributed to by some of the best known names and groups on the Irish traditional music scene.
It was a hectic week of teaching, learning and playing music at one of Ireland's best known and most popular Summer Schools.
Numbers attending the various classes were a record this year. The school started out with 80 pupils 25 years ago but this year they had in excess of 1,000. Pupil numbers this year put a strain on Summer School directors who had to find extra tutors at the last minute to cope with the situation.
At weekends the festival attracted crowds of up to 10,000 people to Miltown Malbay which was put at full stretch to cater for the influx.
The cost involved in organising and running the festival is a cause of worry, however, for the organisers. It is now costing £100,000 to run and Summer School Programme Director, Muiris O Rochain, warns that they will have to consolidate their financial position before plans are advanced for the staging of the 1999 school. Their expenses included paying the 300 tutors at the school and with all the other costs involved it was imperative that they receive some "cushion funding" to face next year's Summer School.
He said that it was encouraging to see so many young people, a big percentage from Clare, attending the classes. They were fully availing of the great opportunity of having first class tutors at their doorstep. This spoke well for the future of Irish music in Clare and elsewhere.
The festival ended on a high note with the celebrity concert in the Community Hall on Saturday night and the Sean O Riada Mass and the Coolea Choir in St. Joseph's Church on Sunday morning.
Tributes have been paid to the enthusiastic members of the organising committee who continue to put Miltown Malbay and West Clare on the map with a high standard Summer School which is well-known internationally.
Summer School Closes On High Note
The Clare Champion, 17 July 1998This year's Willie Clancy Summer School closed on Sunday last with the celebration of Sean O Riada Mass with the Coolea choir in St. Joseph's church.
On Saturday night the climax of the various concerts which were presented during the week was the "Ceol Chorm Mhor" with top class traditional artistes.
This year's classes had their biggest ever attendances, putting a strain on instructors and accommodation. However, the Committee as always coped with the demand and provided for everyone.
The Committee deserves great credit yet again for their efforts in successfully organising such a large number of people and they emphasise the huge expense involved in presenting this even yearly. In order to plan properly for next year an appeal was made for more financial backing for the school. Sponsors were also thanked for their continued support in keeping the school to the forefront.
The task of keeping the traffic flowing and general order during the week is a very difficult one and the Gardai deserve great praise for controlling the comings and goings of such a large number of people with efficiency and courtesy. Facilities come under great pressure also and the County Council together with their hard working staff are to be commended for their excellent work.
The Willie Clancy School provides a great boost to the economies of Miltown Malbay, Spanish Point, Mullagh and Quilty. The Committee express their gratitude to everyone concerned, from teachers to students, sponsors, contributors and voluntary helpers whose joint efforts ensured that the 26th Willie Clancy Summer School was as successful as ever.