Chance meeting at GAA tournament sparked idea
A chance meeting between a Comhltas project officer and a gaelic football chairman at a youth tournament has sparked a new course of Irish music in south London.
John McDonagh, Chairman of the Round Towers Minor Gaelic Football Club and John Devine, Project officer for Irish arts organization Comhaltas, met at this year’s GAA All Britain Competition in Greenford.
The pair discussed the shortage of Irish music classes in South London, and John McDonagh resolved to research potential interest in a class among parents of his local Minor Gaelic Football Club, and Irish friends and families in the area.
Based on the enthusiastic responses John received, a small steering committee has been set up, and with support from the South London Irish Association, we believe this class will meet a need for a traditional music hub in this part of south London.
“There have been Comhaltas branches in South London in the past but it has become a much more fragmented scene for anyone interested in traditional music since those days,” says John Devine.
“There are many fine traditional musicians living in South London and a few good sessions that have run for many years although nothing like the scene that exists North of the river.
There is a growing community of young Irish professional people in South London and I believe it’s a scene waiting to happen.”
The new class will launch at The South London Irish Club, 138-140 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon SW19 3TG on Monday the 30th October at 7pm and all are welcome.
The classes will then run every Monday, during term time thereafter.
Children are welcome from the age of 7 years upwards but younger children will be considered if deemed capable by the teachers.
The first lesson is free then £5 per lesson with discount rates for siblings and a limited number of Tin-whistles will be available to purchase on the night for £5 but feel free to purchase your own whistle in advance if you prefer, just make sure it’s in the key of ‘D’.
“It is hoped that the Wimbledon class will eventually lead to the establishment of a brand new South London Comhaltas branch, and as such act as the badly needed hub for cultural community activity in the area,” says John.
John is a well-known face on the London session scene, and further afield as an Uilleann Piper, Flute and Whistle player.
He won an All Ireland Bodhrán championship in his youth and has been involved in Traditional music performance, recording and tuition for more than 30 years.