Good news for Irish trad music students

university limerick irish traditional music clancy summer school

University of Limerick and Clancy Summer School to work together from this summer

The University of Limerick’s BLAS International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance is partnering with Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy in a joint venture which it hopes will promote deeper understanding and appreciation of Irish traditional music

Blas, one of the success stories of Limerick University’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, has been going for 21 years. The Academy itself was started in 1994 with the appointment of Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin as first Chair of Music at the University of Limerick.

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It offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in music, dance and related subject areas. It attracts students from all over the world, typically musicians, singers and dancers already familiar with the Irish traditions, who want to extend their technique, repertoire and knowledge.


As such Blas sees itself as an incubator, a space in which to improve musicianship, song, or dance technique, and in which to learn more about the stylistic, social, and historic content of these traditions in a familiar educational campus setting.

It is an internationally accredited school and takes place for two weeks each June at the UL campus. Now Blas is offering its students a further week of all aspects of Irish Tradtional Music through The Willie Clancy Summer School’s class on The Scope of Irish Traditional Music (Dúchas an Cheoil) in Miltown Malbay, Co.Clare in early July.

The class has been part of the school for the past thirty years. For the past forty years thousands of students and music lovers have descended on Miltown Malbay for the Clancy School. The Scope of Irish Music class is a six-day course to introduce students to the essential elements of Irish Traditional Music Dance and Song.

Its primary focus is on listening and creating an awareness of the social and historical context in which the largest part of this musical tradition was created. Emphasis is placed on relaxed interaction between student, tutors and players and singers. Some of Ireland’s leading musicians and singers have contributed to it over the years.

The Tutors include Paddy Glackin, one of the leading fiddle playesr of his generation. He has been to the fore in promoting the fiddle music of Donegal and has played a seminal role in a number of enormously influential music groupings such as Ceoltóirí Laighean, The Bothy Band and composer John Cage’s Roaratorio.

university limerick irish traditional music clancy summer school

He has recorded widely as a solo and ensemble player and was for many years a producer in RTÉ. He will be joined by Cathal Goan who has a lifelong interest in Irish music and song and started his professional career in RTÉ as an archivist with special responsibility for Irish music and song.

He has written on a number of aspects of the Donegal song tradition and served for many years as chairman of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. He was founding director of TG4 and also Director General of RTÉ.


Professor Paul McCutcheon, Vice President of the University of Limerick said: “The University of Limerick is happy to deepen and strengthen its offerings to international students through this initiative and is particularly happy to be associated with Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

“The partnership between UL’s Irish World Academy and the Willie Clancy Summer School will further promote the highest standards of tuition in Irish music.”

Don Barry, President of the University of Limerick said: “I welcome the Academy’s recently launched collaboration with the Willie Clancy Summer School, the oldest and most internationally renowned Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance, in partnership with our own Blas International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance. This innovative collaboration will offer an accredited programme hosted both at Limerick and Miltown Malbay.”

Harry Hughes, Director of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, welcomed the initiative and said: “Since its beginning in 1973 the Willie Clancy Summer School has promoted and popularisd the teaching of Irish traditional music among international audiences and has annually attracted a large overseas cohort to its classes. Education is central to the School’s activities and this link with the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance adds a further and valuable international dimension to its educational programmes.”

Dr. Sandra Joyce, Director of the iris World Academy said: “The Irish World Academy is delighted to announce this collaboration between the Blas International Summer School of Music and Dance and Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy was one of the first Summer schools in Irish traditional music and is now heading into its 45th year. Over its long and distinguished history, it has continued to be a world leader, inspiring schools such as Blas. We look forward to continued development of the links between the Academy and Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.”

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