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Lectures, Seminars and Tribute
Venue: Community Centre for all events.
Please note that all information on this site pertains to the 2023 summer school. We will be updating the site with info for the 2024 summer school from early next year. 

Dé Sathairn 1ú Iúil - Saturday 1st July

8.00 pm - Oscailt Oifigiúil/Official Opening by Charlie Harris, renowned accordion player and TG4 Gradam Ceoil Award winner.


8.30 pm - Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture: ‘Against Christianity, learning and the spirit of nationality’ - Jazz and Irish Traditional Music in the early twentieth century. Presented by Conor Caldwell, fiddle player and lecturer in Irish Traditional Music at the University of Limerick.

Dé Luain 3ú Iúil - Monday 3rd July

3.00 pm - Lecture: Irish Traditional Musicians in Chicago 1920-2020.

Presented by Richie Piggott, researcher and collector.

Dé Máirt 4ú Iúil - Tuesday 4th July 3.00 pm

A Tribute to Mary Bergin, renowned tin whistle player. Facilitator: James Kelly.

Dé Céadaoin 5ú Iúil - Wednesday 5th July


3.00 pm - Lecture: Garech Browne, Willie Clancy and Claddagh Records.

Presented by James Morrissey, Chairman, Claddagh Records.

Déardaoin 6ú Iúil - Thursday 6th July 2.30 pm

Lecture: Restitution: the revival of Scotland's bellows blown pipes and its wider cultural significance. Presented by Hamish Moore, piper, pipes maker and researcher.

Dé Sathairn 8ú Iúil - Saturday 8th July 2.30 pm

2.30 pm - Remembering Willie Clancy: an afternoon of reminiscences, conversations, music and song.

More details to follow.

Charlie Harris

Renowned  accordion and melodeon player Charlie Harris will open the 51st Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy on Saturday 1st July, 2023 at 8pm.

Charlie Harris was born in Limerick but is a long-time resident of East Galway, having lived in Ardrahan since the 1970s where he ran an accordion and melodeon repair and tuning business.

With his friend Tom Cussen he was one of the founding members of the Shaskeen Céilí Band. He plays regularly with the Tulla Céilí Band, and is a member of the Sliabh Aughty Trio with Mark Donnellan and Jim Corry.

In 1987 he was among the first group of tutors to deliver accordion and melodeon workshops at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and his influence on the development of the teaching of those instruments at the school has been significant.

He received the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the Year Award in 2009 for his outstanding contribution to Irish traditional music

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Charlie Harris

Photo: Tony Kearns

Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture 

Against Christianity, learning and the spirit of nationality' - Jazz and Irish Traditional Music in the early twentieth century

Conor Caldwell

Conor Caldwell is a fiddle player from Belfast who currently works as a lecturer in Irish Traditional Music at the University of Limerick. His research explores various aspects of music in Ireland, including style, structure and form in performance. Known for his energetic northern fiddle style, Conor’s music is informed by his exploration of both archival and contemporary sources. He was previously based at Queen’s University, Belfast and continues to work with the music community in his native city.

This illustrated talk unpacks the hidden story behind Ireland’s dalliances with jazz and the unique sounds that were created in the early C20th. From Scottish reels to Eastern European polkas and English-language ballads, Irish musicians have always received new musical forms with open ears and enthusiasm. However, the music which arrived in Ireland between the two world wars has largely been written out of history. As the jazz craze swept Ireland in this period, traditional musicians did what they have always done and found ways to render its sounds and rhythms in the best way they knew how. This allowed a hybrid Irish jazz style to briefly flourish before it was denounced by the power brokers of the day and was finally swept away by the arrival of the showband era. This illustrated talk unpacks this hidden story with exciting musical examples from the archives that have been largely previously unheard.

This lecture will be presented on Saturday Ist July at 8.30 pm.

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Conor Caldwell

Irish Traditional Musicians in Chicago 1920 - 2020

Richie Piggott

Richie Piggott was born in Cobh, Co. Cork and has lived in Chicago for the past twenty-five years. His father, Johnny Piggott, was an accordion player from Dooks, near Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry, and his mother, Margaret Flannery, came from Dingle. Her family were involved with the Dingle marching bands down through the years. Although not a musician himself, his love of the music has led to a life-long interest in the social history of Irish traditional musicians and he has amassed a vast collection of traditional music

recordings, music books and music manuscripts. He has contributed several historical recordings and manuscripts to the Irish Traditional Music Archive and Na Píobairí Uilleann and delivered lectures on his researches in Chicago, Boston and Ireland.


This presentation is drawn from his recently published book Cry of a People Gone. It will include a history of the development of Chicago and that city’s attraction for Irish immigrants from the mid-nineteenth century onwards and provides details of Irish musicians who lived there from 1920 to 2020. The survey will focus on some of the major events relating to Irish traditional music in the city such as the formation of the Irish Musicians Association of America (IMA), major tours of musicians and dancers to and from Ireland, and the organising of the first Fleadh Cheoil festivals in America. The lecture will be illustrated by many photographs and non-commercial sound recordings of musicians in Chicago and Ireland.

This lecture will be presented on Monday 3rd July at 3.00 pm.

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Richie Piggott

Tribute to tin whistle player Mary Bergin

Widely recognised as one of the great masters of the tin whistle, Mary Bergin will be the subject of this year’s Tribute at the 51st Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy. The Tribute is an annual event where the School honours a person who has made a remarkable contribution to Irish traditional music.

Mary was born in Shankill, Dublin, and her parents, Joe and Máire, played melodeon and fiddle, respectively. She began playing the whistle at age nine and as a youth was exposed to the music of many renowned musicians. Her style is particularly influenced by flute player Packie Duignan and the whistle playing of Willie Clancy. She has won many awards in Oireachtas and Fleadh Ceoil competitions, including the All-Ireland Championship at Junior and Senior levels. She moved to An Spidéal, Co. Galway, in the early 1970s and played with such groups as Dé Danann and Ceoltoirí Laighean and was a co-founder of the Green Linnet Céilí Band. For many years she played and toured with her sister and brother-in-law, Antoinette and Joe McKenna. In 1989, with Kathleen Loughnane and Dearbhail Standún, she formed the group Dordán. With its distinctive mix of traditional Irish and European baroque music Dordán has played to wide acclaim and received a National Entertainment Award in 1993.

Mary Bergin

Photo: Tony Kearns

She  has issued two solo albums, Feadóga Stáin (1979) and Feadoga Stáin 2 (1992) both critically acclaimed and, according to musician and archivist Jackie Small, “ranked among  the most influential albums of Irish music, ever.” Bergin, described by Grey Larsen “as a leading influencer of the modern Irish whistling style” is credited with popularising traditional Irish tin whistle playing. She has released four CDs with Dordán, published two volumes of her Irish Tin Whistle Tutorial and is currently working on the third and final volume. The Tutorial has been described by Fintan Vallely as a “landmark publication, for it is rare that the compiler would be both an accomplished performer and equally-accredited teacher.” Mary has toured in Europe, the UK, USA and Australia, playing at concerts, festivals, colleges and universities and giving workshops and master classes. She has taught at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy for many years.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to Irish traditional music she received  the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the Year Award in 2000 and an Honorary Doctorate from UCD in 2022 for her contribution to the Arts.

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy now joins in celebrating Mary’s outstanding achievements.



The Tribute will take place on Tuesday 4th July at 3.00pm. It will be facilitated by her long-time friend and fellow musician James Kelly.

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Master fiddler, tutor and composer James Kelly was born in Capel St, Dublin, the son of West Clare fiddler and concertina player, John Kelly. At age 16 he won the Fiddler of the Year Competition and was a regular at the music sessions in the Four Seasons pub with his father, brother John, and Joe Ryan. His first album was a duet with his brother: John and James Kelly: Irish Traditional Fiddle Music. He played with the group Ceoltóiri Laighean which included - among others - his father, Mary Bergin, Aibhlín McCrann and Paddy Glackin.He released two albums with this group, The Crooked Road, a live recording of a concert  at University College Dublin (1973), and the second, The Star of Munster (1975), both regarded as hugely influential recordings.


James  played with other well-known groups, like Planxty, The Chieftains, Patrick Street and Kinvara. The latter included Jackie Daly, John Faulkner and Dolores Keane.

James Kelly

Photo: Tony Kearns

Emigrating to the US in 1978 he toured and recorded with Bowhand, which featured Paddy O‘Brien and Dáithí Sproule, and collaborated with many distinguished artists on several seminal recordings. In 1989 he released his first solo album, appropriately titled Capel Street, and his second, James Kelly, came out in 1996. A third solo album, Melodic Journeys, was released in 2004. He has composed approximately 800 tunes and in 2009 published his first book of tunes: 101 Traditional Irish Dance Tunes.

He has been resident for many years in Miami and in 2001 received the Florida Folk Heritage Award from the Florida Folklife Programme in recognition of his outstanding musicianship. In 2006 he received the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the Year Award for his contribution to Irish traditional music.

James is highly regarded as a tutor and performer and  has toured all over the US, Australia, and the UK, tutoring and performing  at festivals, summer schools,  colleges and universities. He is, like Mary, a long-time tutor at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

Garech Browne, Willie Clancy and Claddagh Records

James Morrissey

James Morrissey, a native of Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, graduated from UCD and worked as a journalist with Independent Newspapers before becoming a co-founder of The Sunday Business Post. He has authored a number of books including The Fastnet Lighthouse, Omey Island and Inishbofin & Inishark and works as a communication consultant. A friend of Garech Browne, the founder of Claddagh Records,  he  was working on a history of Claddagh and the revival of the label when Garech died in 2018. He is currently completing the book while overseeing the revival of the Claddagh Label.

The lecture will focus on the Garech Browne/Willie Clancy/Claddagh Records connections. It will examine Garech’s close friendship with Willie Clancy, the recordings Willie released on Claddagh, and the role of ​Clancy in

determining that the objective of Claddagh would be to preserve, protect and promote Irish traditional music and the spoken word. Included are extracts of correspondence from Ciarán Mac Mathúna, Willie Clancy, Garech Browne and Willie Clancy’s widow, Doreen. The talk will also detail the current revival of the Claddagh label, a project designed to fulfil Garech’s wishes to “make available the Claddagh archive to anyone, anywhere, that might be interested….”

This lecture will be presented on Wednesday 5th July at 3.00 pm.

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James Morrissey

Restitution: the revival of Scotland's bellows blown pipes and its wider

cultural significance

Hamish Moore

Hamish Moore

Hamish Moore was born to a family of Highlanders and Irish immigrants who worked in the heavy industries of their day in Glasgow. His father was his first piping teacher and his great- grandfather, Duncan McCallum, was a renowned piper. He went on to compete successfully in both band and solo competitions but was always aware there was another side of Scottish piping which had been lost and  had yet to be rediscovered.

He studied veterinary medicine at Edinburgh University and worked in Miltown Malbay with  local vet James Ironside in 1981. It was here in some of the local pubs that he first encountered uilleann pipes.

He had always questioned why Scottish piping had become entirely associated with competition and the military. Back in Scotland he determined to research and find a Scottish bellows blown pipe equivalent to the uilleann pipes. His next-door neighbour in the Highlands had a set of early 19th century small pipes complete with bellows. He acquired these on a long-term loan and had them restored. This changed his life and four years later he had given up the day job to make pipes and play professionally. The pipe-making business, now run by his son, Fin, also a superb piper, has made well over a thousand sets of Scottish bellows blown pipes.


The lecture  examines the revival of the bellows blown pipes of Scotland, one of the most culturally significant events to have occurred in the last 250 years. This renaissance has challenged the piping establishment to recognise there was a legitimate Scottish piping culture prior to the late 18th century, when the British army raised the Highland regiments, and competitions were first introduced bringing about the standardisation of our pipe  music. Before these events piping in Scotland was truly an aurally transmitted folk tradition. The talk will be illustrated by a display of historically important artefacts and some superb recordings.


This lecture will be presented on Thursday 6th July at 2.30 pm.

Remembering Willie Clancy: Reflections on his life and legacy. 

This presentation will feature people who knew him and musicians who were influenced by his music. Presented by Peter Browne, piper and former producer / presenter with RTÉ Radio.


Saturday 8th July at 2.30 pm.

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