Calling all talented Irish whistle players

Calling all talented Irish whistle players
Picture James Horan/Photocall Ireland

Saturday deadline for scholarship application to Willie Clancy Summer School

By Michael McDonagh

The Tommy McCarthy Memorial Scholarship 2018 to attend the Willy Clancy summer school will soon be awarded to a young whistle player living in London but the deadline for applications is fast approaching.

In 2016 the Irish American Partnership, a cultural foundation based in Boston, where Tommy McCarthy, Junior, now lives, gave a substantial donation to Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

The summer school decided to use the funding to create a scholarship programme which would commemorate Tommy McCarthy and his contribution to Irish traditional music and assist young promising musicians attend the summer school.

The annual scholarship would be awarded to young musicians playing uilleann pipes, concertina, or whistle, the instruments primarily associated with Tommy McCarthy.

The first scholarship in 2016 was awarded to piper Amy Campbell, from Dublin, and concertina player Breandán Gillanders, from Galway, was the 2017 recipient. To acknowledge Tommy McCarthy’s significant contribution to traditional music generally, and the family’s long association with traditional music in London, this year’s bursary will be awarded to a whistle player living in London.

The selection process will be handled by a panel of experienced London –based musicians and adjudicators.

Tommy McCarthy (1929- 2000), uilleann piper, concertina and whistle player, and fiddler, was born in Shyan, Kilmihil, Co Clare. He emigrated to London in the early 1950s where he became an important figure in the Irish traditional music scene in the city and was one of the co-founders of the London Pipers Club.

He and his wife Kathleen, originally from Glennamaddy, Co Galway, raised their family in London and the children Bernadette, Marion, Jacqui and Tommy –inherited their father’s musical gifts and are all accomplished musicians.

He and Kathleen returned to Ireland in the early 1990s and the girls also settled there. On his return he became involved in the traditional music scene and taught and played for many years at the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, where he became an influential mentor to the many students who came to the summer school.

In 1996 he set a unique record at the school when he played a three of the recitals on the programme: uilleann pipes, whistle and concertina. Tommy McCarthy was a highly respected musician who is still fondly remembered by generations of traditional musicians.

Applicants must be under 20 years, studying and playing whistle in London, and be nominated by their tutors. A tutor may nominate up to 3 candidates.

All applicants should submit an audio clip of their playing, (one tune, played twice), and 100 words of information their musical experience to date and why they believe they would benefit from the scholarship, and send to:

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