Notes from the Artistic Desk
Hello from East Durham. March 6th 2017
“We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea breakers and sitting by desolate streams,
World losers and world forsakers on whom the pale moon gleams,
Yet we are the movers and shakers of the world forever it seems.”
Taken from the first verse of a poem, Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy.
Musicians, singers, dancers, artists, poets,storytellers teachers and dreamers will inhabit East Durham this July to celebrate Irish America in the 23rd Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week. The finest ingredients are on hand, as seen from the line up of artists on our website www.catskillsirishartsweek.com, to make sure another memorable experience will be had by our cherished CIAW family. No expense has been spared in bringing more of the best of the best whose knowledge and mastery of instrument, voice, hands and feet surpass even the highest of expectations.
The week will kick off with a “Meet and Greet” the students in the Main Pavilion on the MJ Quill Cultural Centre grounds. The Concert Series will begin on Monday evening, with a grand New York welcome hosted by Monsignor Charlie Coen, together with Willie Kelly and friends. Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Vermont and the Motherland will all have a presence during the week under the leadership of such notables as, Artist in Residence Seamus Connolly, Larry Nugent, Benedict Koehler and Mary Bergin. Thursday night will commence with a special concert hosted by this year’s Honoree, master musician and teacher Billy McComiskey. Billy will be joined onstage with family and friends- of which there are many! Grab a glass of wine or a cool beer because the night is not over yet. Special Guest Dr Mick Moloney will take you on a trip of The Green Fields of America in a very special concert. We are delighted to say that Joanie Madden and Cherish The Ladies will grace us with their presence and haunting music again this year, on Friday evening. The Listening Room Series will host such players as Kevin Crawford, Kieran Jordan, Michael Rooney, Mairin Ui Cheide, Margie Mulvihill, Patrick Ourceau and Kevin Rowsome to name but a few.
Dr Mick Moloney will host the afternoon Lecture/Presentation Series. I urge you not to miss out on any of these highly regarded and entertaining presentations. New this year in The Tailteann House, Dan Neeley will host the Lunch Hour Thematic Concert Series, brainchild of Mick Moloney when he directed Elkins Week in West Virginia. Paul Keating, Don Meade and Myron Bretholz three former Directors of Arts Week, will take part in the telling of the great Irish American story in all its art forms. This year there will be something special for everybody.
Lar and Emma will host The Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band at the Monday night Ceili Dance at The Shamrock House. The Great Barn Dance on Wednesday night in the Main Pavilion will feature Padraig McEneany who will be joined by fellow dancers in showcasing the many different forms of the Irish dance. There will be no shortage of instruction and helping hands for the beginner and the more experienced dancers will take to the floor in a fun filled evening accompanied by master musicians of the dance. Thursday night will again feature Billy McComiskey’s hugely popular Brookside Ceili Band at The Shamrock House. Not for the weary dancer or the meek of heart!
Dale, Roy and Patty are readying The Blackthorne Resort for a capacity filled crowd all week at Sessions hosted by Joanie Madden, Pauline Conneely, Dylan Foley, Dan Gurney ,Tony DeMarco as well as a brand new CD Launch by Colm Gannon, Jessie Smith and John Blake on Wednesday night. That is just a sample of what is to come.
Gavin’s Country Inn will welcome their guests with the strains of sweet music from the pipers and harpists in nightly Sessions. Bernadette says everybody enjoys the ever popular Singing Sessions in the Tea Room. Bernadette Nic Gabhann, Brenda Castles and Eileen Gannon will launch their New CD on Wednesday night in the pub.
Dermot and Colleen are putting finishing touches to family owned McGraths where Benedict Koehler and friends will delight all in an intimate Listening Room in their newly decorated dining room. Linda Hickman, Iris Nevins and Doug Barr will lead a room full of happy musicians in a traditional Irish Pub Session. Kieran Jordan will showcase her new CD on Wednesday night.
This is just a small smathering of what the going’s on of the week look like. In the meantime I have to get back to the drawing board to get it all down in pen and paper.
Much more to come.
All the best for now,
Hello from East Durham and The Catskills Irish Arts Week February 6th 2017
I know you are all wondering by now what’s happening at the Catskills Irish Arts Week this year. Well I promise you the nose has been to the grindstone ,in the planning of what I feel will be the best year yet. I know ye all keep coming back each year proudly saying the last year was the best so far for which we are most grateful. The Catskills Irish Arts Week and the very survival of the Irish culture and all its traditions are indebted to you all, for not only” Keeping the Tradition Alive’ but for making it an integral part of your daily lives and that of the lives of your children. It is indeed an honor to present the 23rd Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week for you, particularly this year. The Catskills Irish Arts Week is excited to honor you and your story this year, in it’s theme, “Irish America in the Arts” …… music, song, dance, art, crafts, poetry and storytelling.
Dr. Mick Moloney folklorist ,musicologist, arts presenter and advocate, professional musician and professor of music and Irish studies, has kindly accepted our invitation to help with this awesome task. Special friend to all of us and to the music, former artistic director of Gaelic Roots in Boston , Seamus Connolly, will join us as” Artist in Residence” while our own Billy McComiskey, truly a master musician, will be” Honored” throughout the week . We are priviledged to have with us such notables as these three very fine recipients of the most prestigious of awards,” The National Heritage Fellowship” , a lifetime honor presented to master folk and traditional artists by The National Endowment for the Arts, in America. They grace us with their presence in East Durham this year. Long time Arts Week director Paul Keating, and the very first artistic director of Arts Week Don Meade together with former artistic director and hugely popular MC, Myron Bretholz will be here to share their memories and vast knowledge of ” Irish America in the Arts”. Dan Neely former artistic director at Elkins in West Virginia which was founded by Mick Moloney will join the powerful faculty of artists in bringing to you, the best of the best in presentations, lectures, concerts, ceilithe, listening rooms, session and gatherings, not to mention the Great Barn Dance and Grand Finale Trad Fest.
With all that said I must catch a few winks and get back to the drawing board and lay this massive schedule down on paper. I hope you are as excited about the week to come as we are here in East Durham. The paint brushes are out and work has begun.
” Irish Music Magazine ” Ireland’s premier magazine for Irish traditional music and song, have kindly invited yours truly to write a monthly feature in their magazine in “Stories from Irish America” by Reidin O’Flynn” This affords us the opportunity to share our part of the story with readers around the globe. Our very own Margie Mulvihill graciously took her time to be my first victim. Her story and that of her family took my breath away, as does her beauty both inside and out. I hope I did it justice Margie. It is published in this month’s edition. Hope you all check it out . We will post a link to the magazine and information on how to subscribe. I have been a subscriber for more than twelve years and recommend it highly for its style and depth of knowledge in bringing the stories of the Irish and Irish American artists to the reader It is worthy of a seat on your coffee table.
In the meantime we are up and running. The faculty line up is posted on the website
www.catskillsirishartsweek.com. Online registration is open. There are always little glitches in the beginning. If you are experiencing any difficulties call me at 518 678 5833 or 518 634 2286 any time. I look forward to hearing from you. We will post the schedule as we complete each program.
All the very best for now,
Hello from East Durham June 28th 2016
” If you would like to see the height of hospitality,
The cream of kindly welcome, and the core of cordiality:
Joys of all the olden time -you’re wishing to recall again?
Come down to Donovans, and there you’ll meet them all again.”
“Written from lifelong exile in London, this is one of Frank Fahy’s great songs” from Rich and Rare, A Book of Ireland by Sean McMahon.
The same hospitality, welcome and cordiality awaits you in East Durham twelve days from now! Gather up your children, pack your bags and take to the road or sky for another memorable week, filled with the music, songs, dances, arts, crafts and stories of Ireland. The rooms are readied, the kettle is on the boil and hearts are beating with excitement. Bring your music, songs, dancing shoes, paint brushes, hard hats ,hammers, chisels, singing voices and stories. Experience the masters at their work, handing down all that they have been taught in the oral tradition.
Leaving no stone unturned again this year we have worked very hard in putting together another week of our rich and rare culture. Ireland, even through its raw history of oppression has managed not only to keep her tradition alive, but has succeeded very well in spreading it throughout the world. The overwhelming realization of it all struck me this weekend at the Comhaltas Mid Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil in Parsippany New Jersey. I heard a seven year old girl sing. Her father spoke to her in Irish only. She bravely stood tall in front of a room full of people and performed two lovely songs in Irish without faltering. Her smile went from ear to ear when finished. What a gift to give your child. To the parents of all such children thank you. Teachers hustled busily around the great big lobby of the hotel getting all their students into the various competitions on time. What work these teachers do. We are so privilaged to have many of them here at the Catskills Irish Arts Week. It would be remiss of me not to point out the valuable role you the student play in keeping the tradition alive. Without you all this work would be futile. You carry on the tradition and in turn your children will do the same. Thank you and much thanks to friends and fans alike who support all these events.
Our line up of the masters this year is second to none. Fiddlers Willie Kelly, Dave Sheridan, Dylan Foley and Nodhlaig Casey , tin whistle players Joanie Madden, Mary Bergin, Linda Hickman , masters of the accordian Billy McComiskey, Charlie Piggott, Jackie Daly, singers Aoife Clancy, Roisin White, Nell Ni Chroinin, pipers Benedict Koehler, Joey Abarta, and dancers Kieran Jordan and Padraig McEneany are to name but a few of these world acclaimed masters. The complete line up and schedules of workshops, concerts, listening rooms, sessions, lectures and more is available on our website www.catskillsirishartsweek.com.
Our Tir Na nOg Children’s Program and The Stepping Stone Program for youth and beginners are growing from year to year.
Looking forward to welcoming you all on the 10th July to our 22nd Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week. All the very best for now,
The schedule and lineup are on the website. www.catskillsirishartsweek.com Registration is still open online and over the phone anytime day or night by calling 518 678 5833 or 518 634 2286. Advance Non student packages available by phone.
Hello from East Durham May 14th 2016
“and pullets pecking the flies from around the eyes of heifers
Sitting in the farmyard mud
Among hydrangeas and falling ear-rings
Of fuchsias red as blood”
I felt compelled to share these magnificent lines taken from the third verse of the lovely poem County Sligo by the Irish poet Louis Mac Neice. It brought me back to the hot Summer days spent with friends and family among the fields in Ireland. The plush carpets of grass, daisies and buttercups fluttering in the warm breezes filled with the scent of the yellow gorse bushes caressed our bare feet as we ran around without a care in the world. A welcome drink scooped up in cupped hands from a mountain brook while “Water music filled the air” and our hearts and minds with the magic of nature. Unforgettable memories.
You must be asking right about now, what has all this got to do with The Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham New York in July. Everything I tell you. It has all the same ingredients here. Lazy Summer days, mountain brooks, carpeted fields of grasses and wild flowers, scented breezes, farmyard cows, pullets flies and last but not least music, song and dance of Ireland, and much more.
Sheila Friel will join Benedict Koehler and Joey Abarta on Uilleann Pipes this year. Sheila is a member of the multi talented Friel sisters and a great teacher as well . The pipes especially in the hands of these three players will give “water music” a run for it’s money any time. We are honored to have in our midst fiddle player extraordinaire Seamus Connolly as our special guest. Well known harpist Eileen Gannon will be here, as well as Hilari Farrington Koehler and Iris Nevins to delight the students with new airs and haunt the evening on Ireland’s exquisite instrument.
Mary Bergin one of Ireland’s national treasures is doing something new this year. Mary will offer a workshop tailored to the classical musician who seeks to play traditional Irish music. Mary will still be available for part of the day for her students.
Joanie Madden is also here to pass on her unique style on whistle to the lucky students who can avail of her workshop. Joanie will lead her highly renowned band Cherish The Ladies on the final concert on Friday night. Nodhlaig Casey will join Cherish on the fiddle as well. Thank you Joanie, Mary Coogan, Mirella Murray and KT Boyle for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here with us.
I had a long chat with Billy McComiskey the other day one of many I’m lucky to add. Billy left me with this piece of information. Joe Cooley came to America in 1954 bringing with him his unique brand of traditional accordian playing. Joe was one of the earliest members of the Tulla Ceili Band winning the Feile Luimni with them in 1946. He influenced generations of musicians and music lovers including Billy himself. We got to talking about 1916 and the fact that we probably would not be here or that the Irish music might not be so much a part of the Irish in America or indeed at home in Ireland if it were not for the ultimate sacrifice made by the very brave men and women of the 1916 Easter Rising. Their sacrifices led not only to Ireland’s freedom and to the promotion and preservation of her music, song , dance, language and more but her hope for a brighter future for her people both at home and abroad. Joe Cooley played a major role in the music both in Ireland and America. It is fitting that another powerful musician Charlie Piggott is offering a presentation on the life and times of Joe Cooley at the Catskills Irish Arts week in this the 100th Anniversary of 1916. There will be more memories of 1916 shared during the course of the week in song, story and music. Micheal O Maille will present a lecture on the role of the women in 1916 on saturday evening. We invite all students to share stories on their family connections or involvement to 1916.
That’s it for now. More to come soon. Registrations have been coming in for the past two months. I remind you to register early to secure the class of your choice.
All the very best,
Register for Workshops, Concerts, Ceili dances, Listening rooms and more online at
www.catskillsirishartsweek.com Register by phone at 518 634 2286.
Non Student packages available by phone.
Hello from East Durham March 20th 2016
Here’s hoping ye all had a lovely Saint Patricks Day. I used to love digging in the fields and along the ditches for that evasive little plant we call the Shamrock. It was and still is proudly displayed in a little bunch held together with a small headpin, on the lapels of our coats and jackets. We would have to squeeze ourselves into over flowing pews in our little church. I will never forget the ancestrel strains of the past in the voices of families, neighbors and friends as they sang together in one voice, that sweetest of Irish hymns “Dochas linn Naomh Padraig”. Ah, how I miss those days growing up in Ireland. I love East Durham for its Irishness. It keeps me from pining a bit.
He walks among us. He prays for and with us. He plays and teaches us our music. He lifts our spirit with just the right words. He brightens up our day with his unique sense of humour. No I am not talking about Saint Patrick.. though I am sure he too was guilty of some of the same holy attributes. I speak of none other than our music consultant, my friend and yours, the eminent and talented Monsignor Charlie Coen. I was recently the lucky recepient of a piece of Monsignor’s writings. He read it down the phone to me and I immediatly felt it had to be shared. So with his permission here it is….
“Here in the Irish Catskills, it is almost Spring. Spring being the time when young men start thinking about what young girls have been thinking about all year. Yesterday some birds were chirping in the tree tops while snowflakes gently muted their best efforts. It’s the time of year when we need to awaken in the souls of future artists a longing to express that which can’t be spoken or texted or tweeted without strings, reeds or bellows. The stage is set, the teachers are invited, the beer, soda and pizza are on order, so let the songs begin and the music ring.
In case you have not already heard, we are speaking about CIAW, Catskills Irish Arts Week. It’s that week of July 11th to 16th, 2016 when this little hamlet of East Durham forgets about back to school, back to work, winter plumbing, world economy, political conventions, sexual similarities and all such distractions, and dwell upon sounds and scenes that alternatively rest and lift the spirit. Friendships are born, enemies are reconciled and everyone returns home with a song on their lips, a tune in their heart and a certain restlessness in their feet.
First you must come. Second you must be prepared to sacrifice. no matter how you word it you are going to miss 80% of the fun. So every day or night or afternoon after class some hard decisions have to be made. Should I go to Gavins to hear Benedict Koehler or to McGraths to hear Billy McComiskey. I know I love the pipes but I think I love singing better, should I go to the Saloon to hear Róisín White or to the Blackthorne to hear Joannie Madden. Or perhaps I should go to the Shamrock House to a céilí. I heard the listening rooms are the best where there is silence and only the best artists perform, and of course I have to go to the Big concert every night from 7.30 pm to 9.00pm. You could end up missing all of them if you are a person who can’t decide. So decide with your significant other beforehand that you both don’t have to go to the same place.
“On the shores of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions, who with victory within their grasp sat down to wait and waiting they died” (Some Fellow)
No matter how much you think about it, next day after you hear all the accounts of the various places you will know you made the wrong choice. (But I always go to Lisdoonvarna).
All seriousness aside, Catskills Irish Arts Week, is the best week in the world. You couldn’t go wrong and we all owe it to each other to try and bring some reasonable insanity into this present world of misery, and nothing can do it like music, song and dance. Even if you know as little about music as a goat going to the bathroom on a bodhran, before the end of the week you will have gotten a whole new perspective on life, met the best friends and really learned how to live wih your bad choices. Don’t deprive us of your presence. We look forward to it, all year.”
“All that’s needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke)
Visit us at www.catskillsirishartsweek.com to register
For questions and help with registering call Réidín at 518 634 2286 or 518 678 5833.
All the very best for now,
Hello from East Durham February 2016
It’s raining cats and dogs outside, not a bit of snow in sight and it is February in the Catskill Mountains . Strange weather indeed. It is still beautiful though. Trees standing naked by day come to life in the shadows of the moon at night. Rocks usually blanketed in snow at this time of year, lay in interesting patterns along the creek beds and high up on the cliffs.
First of all before I say any more, I want to thank every one of you who played a role in making last year such a great year for the Catskills Irish Arts Week, The Trad Fest, The Fall Series (a mini Arts Week), the East Durham Irish Festival and the beautiful concerts that the MJQuill Cultural and Sports Centre were delighted to present throughout the village of East Durham. Thank you one and all. In saying that big mouthful I must mention that we are in the throes of presenting another exhilarating week for you again in July
No expense has been spared again this year in bringing to you an exceptional line up of master teacher/ artists.We are thrilled and honored to have as Artist in Residence none other than the well known Irish singer Sean Ó Sé. Sean has a long and wonderful history to tell. It will unfold during the course of the week starting with a wonderful documentary by his good friend and accompaniest of many years Matthew Allen of Wheaton College, Boston, MA. Our own Matt Cranitch will host the documentary on Monday afternoon, which will kick off the week’s Lecture and Presentation series .
To answer your question, yes, the Great Barn Dance is definitely here to stay on Wednesday evening of Catskills Irish Arts Week . Everybody loved it. There was magic in the air and around the Pavilion, when people of all ages took to the floor and danced their hearts out to the best music performed by many of the best ceili band players of our time. It was like a great hurling match , you know those ones that are played off the field for years afterwards.
There are lots of requests for extra Listening Rooms, from both the artists and students alike. The Listening Room is a golden opportunity to hear your favourite players up close in an intimate setting. It also gives the musicians the opportunity to perform with those they have a close musical connection with. Many of them have performed together in the past in various groups and settings. I promise you will not be disappointed with the combinations of Artists this year.
The hammers and paint brushes are all seeing action as East Durham prepares for it’s upcoming season of Festivals, Concerts, Dances and Musical evenings, and of course the Vacation Packages offered to families and friends who have a long history with the village. It is home away from home to me as I am sure it is to so many Irish here in America. I love East Durham at any time of the year.
All the very best for now,
Online registration is now open www.catskillsirishartsweek.com
For further information or to register over the phone call 518 678 5833
Non Student Packages available for Concerts, Listening Rooms and Ceili Dances.
Hello from East Durham September 17th 2015
Mother Nature is hard at work getting ready to invite us all to a show of splendour here in the Catskills. We got a good drop of rain the other day which I am told contributes greatly in bringing out the very vibrant reds and yellows of the majestic maple trees. It also gave rise to the babbling creeks which had run almost dry in the hot summer sun. Now they are entertaining us with all kinds of music and dance. I can hear it from the kitchen, being one of those lucky creatures who happened to have made my way up the Hudson valley to settle in the Catskills many years ago. A beautiful white Heron flew in a couple of weeks ago and is battling it out with two bigger blue ones for territorial rights to a particular spot on the creek. It’s a sight for sore eyes. Yes indeed Fall is in the air and in the nostrils what with the smell of the harvest being reaped in from the fields and the hot spiced apple cider on the brew. Farm stands and homes are decorated with sheaves of corn nonchalantly standing by layered hay bales, while the striking bright orange colour of all sizes of pumpkins are further dressed with pots of colorful chrysanthemums everywhere.
It can’t get any better than this or can it you might ask. I invite you to close your eyes for a minute and imagine a gentle reel being played on the flute by Margie Mulvihill with Rose Flanagan on fiddle, haunted by the sweet strains of Linda Hickman’s whistle, Patty Furlong’s accordion midst the rhythmic sound of creek water. This is just a taste of this very special weekend in East Durham.
All of it and more awaits you during our Catskills Irish Arts Week Fall Series on Columbus Day weekend, with two ceili dances, ten workshops , sessions galore not to mention the grand concert honoring our special guests above together with John Reynolds. The afternoon session on Sunday hosted by the teachers will feature student musicians and singers. We all look forward to your company.
Visit us online at www.catskillsirishartsweek.com to register for a workshop or purchase tickets. You may also register by phone at 518 634 2286 or in the evening at 518 678 5833.
All the very best for now,
Hello from East Durham, August 2015
Summer is still in full fling and the music can be heard throughout the village. We are all still coming down from that very special concert with Matt Molloy, John Carty and Arty McGlynn on August 7th at the Shamrock House. Thank you Matt, John and Arty for your beautiful music and very fine company. It was a pure pleasure. Thanks to everybody who came to enjoy the concert. Your support means everything to the music and to ensuring the continuance of the Catskills Irish Arts Week.
The Catskills Irish Arts Week will celebrate its Fall Series this Columbus Day weekend 9th to 12th October. Now in its third year and gaining ground this is a mini version of the big week in July featuring at least ten teacher musicians, singers and dancers. Workshops, ceili dances and sessions will be offered throughout the weekend. A grand concert will be held at the Shamrock House on Saturday night. The “Year of the Woman” theme from the July week will continue into this weekend, honoring four incredible women for their work and dedication to the preservation and performance of the Traditional music of Ireland. We are indebted to Margie Mulvihill, Linda Hickman Patty Furlong and Rose Conway Flanagan for their invaluable roles in “Keeping the Tradition Alive”. There will be much more to tell you about these wonderful women later. Margie’s lovely daughter Erin Loughran and son in law Mickey Coleman as well as her husband John Reynolds and other family members will be among the teachers celebrating the weekend.
The sound engineer is a critical component to any performance. He or she can make or break a performance. John Reynolds is more than a sound engineer. He is a very fine fiddle player. His sensitivity to the music is evident whether he plays behind a song, plays in the company of other musicians or works the sound board. The Catskills Irish Arts week will honor John for his dedication and expertise in Sound engineering.
Dylan Foley and Dan Gurney released a lovely cd at the Arts week in July. Their mentor Monsignor Coen told me he listened a few times and could not find one mistake. He said it was as near to perfect as you could get. What a compliment boys. We look forward to hearing some tunes from them during the weekend. We also look forward to hearing from the Monsignor himself who has also launched a Coen family cd as well as our own Mike McHale.
The Fall has to be one of the most beautiful times of the year in Upstate New York and a perfect time to take a mini vacation with the family while steeping yourselves in what the Irish writer Cormac McConnell called the” Hidden Ireland”.
All the very best for now,
Hello from East Durham July 2015
“Till we meet again, I wish you well,
I hope your light shines easily.
The words of this parting song say it best. We love you all and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for lending us your very fine company, to help support what has to be one of the finest weeks in Irish culture and traditions. Teachers, students, dancers, volunteers, sponsors, businesses, local organizations firemen and staff all played a significant role in” Keeping the Tradition Alive”. Your music, songs , dances and stories rang out from every corner of the village this past week in classrooms, concert settings, pub sessions and porch gatherings. The tapping of your feet kept pace to the exhilarating music performed hour after hour at the ceili dances.
The dry stone wall on site at the Cultural Centre is the work of Anthony Collins and his students. Anthony learned the craft from his father who learnt it from his father before him, in the oral tradition. Cormac McConnell rightly hit the nail on the head last year when writing about the week, he called it the “Hidden Ireland”.
Thank you gentlemen for graciously and delightfully supporting the honor paid to all the women who foster and ensure the preservation of the Irish culture and traditions, in Ireland and here in America. The Catskills Irish Arts Week honored two such women this year the “Year of the Woman”, for their work and contribution in the music. Mary Bergin from County Galway in Ireland and Joannie Madden from New York were on hand to accept their plaques, which were beautifully engraved in the Irish Language. Congratulations and much love and appreciation to you both.
It is always sad to say goodbye. Many of us know this first hand, whether it is saying goodbye to our families on leaving for America, or saying goodbye to our children when they part, leaving us behind. We sing about it, we cry because of it, it leaves us with a heavy heart. Many a heart is heavy in East Durham this morning.
There is a light in the near future though. It is the bright light of a very special concert coming to the village on August 7th. Matt Molloy the exquisite flute player of the world known group the Chieftans, renowned guitarist Arty McGlynn and highly acclaimed John Carty on fiddle will take to the stage at the Shamrock House at 8.00pm. The Catskills Irish Arts Week is thrilled and excited to host this extraordinary concert.
Not to be missed . This is a rare gem. Affordably priced at $20.
For advanced tickets,
Call 518 634 2286
All the very best and thanks again to you all,
Hello from East Durham July 4th 2015
Happy Independence Day to all Americans. What a great day to be Irish in America. Many of our ancestors died for America’s freedom. In Parliament after the war Lord Mountjoy was noted as saying of the reasons why England lost , “ America was lost because of the Irish emigrants. I have been assured on the best authority that the Irish language was commonly spoke in the American ranks”. Today Irish Americans serve in the ranks of this country’s finest, as firemen, police officers, politicians, doctors, nurses, teachers, builders, artists, writers and more. They serve with a great love and pride of country. The Catskills Irish Arts Week presented by the MJQ Irish cultural and Sports Centre and hosted throughout the historically Irish village of East Durham serves to promote and continue the culture, traditions and story of the Irish people in that of her music, song, dance, story, arts, crafts and last but not least in her native Irish language. It is a great place and a great week to be Irish and Irish American. Here are some of the goings on for the week.
“The Hills are still alive with the sound of Irish Music. Who better to bring the story of the Catskills Irish Arts Week from its beginnings some twenty one years ago to now, than someone who has been so much a part of it both as teacher and Artistic Director. That someone is none other than Paul Keating. Wednesday at the Shamrock House. We should all know this story.
“Remembering Kathleen” a tribute to Kathleen McGrath with Billy McComiskey and Patty Furlong. Kathleen was a strong and generous woman and a fighter to the end. She was faithful to the traditional music and loved the song. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in her daughter Colleen who has taken over the family business. Don’t miss this. Monday night at McGrath’s.
The set dancers will kick off the week with a ceili on Sunday night, to the music of The Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band. They will take to the floor each night all the way to Saturday to the delightful strains of our masterful musicians. Most of us who would wish for such stamina will be content to sit and enjoy watching them perform their sets at the Great Barn Dance on Wednesday night. The evening is hosted by Ireland’s most notable set dancer/ teacher Padraig McEneany.
Monsignor Charlie Coen completed a new cd with his brother Anthony, sister Margaret and nephew Jimmy (Jack Coen’s son). It is titled “Around the Old Turf Fire at Coen’s. It is the real deal. You will hear a few tunes from it on Wednesday afternoon at the Shamrock House, where he is playing in a duet with Willie Kelly . We in the catskill Irish Arts week family offer our deepest to the Coen family on the death of their sister Ann . Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam. Other cd releases include Brendan Dolan and New York fiddle player Rose Clancy, a cd by the young and very talented fiddler Jane Pomplas, produced by former faculty fiddle master Tony De Marco, to be launched at the East Durham Trad Fest on Saturday and a new cd from Dylan Foley and Dan Gurney to be launched at the Blackthorne on Wednesday night. The Blackthorn Stick with Andy Lamy, featuring many notables from Irelands traditional music scene such as Mary Bergin, John Nolan, Brian Conway, and Brendan Dolan to name but a few, is an interesting and highly appraised cd of Irish traditional music played on the clarinet. This will be launched at The East Durham Trad Fest on Saturday. Congratulations to all.
Eileen O’Brien Minogue from Ireland will feature in a special Listening Room at Gavins on Wednesday night. Her guests for the evening will be renowned concertina player Edel Fox, Mirella Murray from Cherish the Ladies and the extraordinary talented musician Josh Dukes. Not only is Eileen a masterful fiddle player, she has a beautiful voice with a wealth of old songs.
The week is filled to the brim with exciting concerts, sessions, ceilithe, and listening rooms. You may choose to take a class from one or more teachers from this year’s magnificent faculty line up. As always Mike McHale, my mentor, and one of the founder members of Arts Week is on hand to make sure we don’t stray too far from the pure drop.
Cormac McConnell is at large throughout the week as is Artist in Residence Jackie Daly. Take the time to sit and chat. I know I will. Drop in at Mike Stacks on the way. There are all kinds of Irish goodies and stuff at the Guaranteed Irish shop. Jenny, Mary Ann, Kathleen and Donal are ready with an Irish welcome on the mat.
We look forward to old friends and new. Registration is still open at www.catskillsirishartsweek.com or by phone at 518 634 2286. You may also visit us online for all the information.
Till we meet, all the very best.
June 15th 2015
Hello from East Durham.
The Irish Dancer (Anonymous)
“I am of Ireland’
And of the holy land
Good sir, pray I thee,
For of sweet charity,
Come and dance with me
“A famous piece modernized by Yeats (among others). It is dated 1300 -1350 by John E Wells, an authority on Middle English, and is one of the earliest English dance-songs extant”.
This eloquent poem jumped out at me from the pages of a book called, Rich and Rare, A Book of Ireland, by the well known author, Sean McMahon. It was gifted to me by my good friend Tom Fitzgerald.
According to the author, “ Irish lyric and narrative poetry, pieces of oratory, epigrams and proverbs and above all songs-“ are” the easily carried treasure of a people on the move. There is a store, to use the Gaelic word for something precious, of this near- oral tradition which acts as a kind of inter-personal passport for all Irish people “. What a beautiful way to describe the origin of the Irish oral tradition, one that is as strong today as it was in ancient times.
Come dance with us at the Great Barn Dance on Wednesday 15th July 2015.
The Catskills Irish Arts week stands on this very way of handing down the music, song, dance, storytelling, poetry, arts and crafts.
Register now for the class of your choice and level. With close to sixty workshops, there is a class that fits just about everybody from beginners to advanced.
Check the full Line Up of teacher/performers to select your class by visiting us at www.catskillsirishartsweek.org You can register online, or by phone. Call me anytime at 518 634 2286 for help in choosing a class or to register by phone.
Join us, this Year of the Woman, in a celebration of this rich and rare tradition.
All the very best for now,
June 1st 2015
Time flies when you are having fun, so they say. How true that is. Maybe we should wallow a bit more in misery, just to slow down that ever ticking clock a bit. Not so easy to do in East Durham these days though, with the hustle and bustle about the village. Preparations have been under way for some months for the Memorial Day Festival which just passed, the very special upcoming Catskills Irish Arts week and the ever busy Summer season that keeps the Irish music, song and dance alive and well here , not to mention the warm hospitality that goes along with it all.
The Memorial Day festival had a fantastic turnout. Families and fans of all ages spent two glorious days basking in the finest of weather while Irish music, songs , dances and chatter of all kinds filled the air around them. I am delighted to tell you that we launched a Traditional Irish music stage at this festival with the help of some of our very talented Catskills Irish Arts Week artists. People with different tastes in music, song and dance got to experience the Traditional Irish style played at top class level much to the delight of the crowd. All Ireland Senior Fiddle Champion Dylan Foley, well known Dan Gurney and Pat Egan played to a delighted audience on Sunday in Mike Boyle’s Beer Garden . The Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band’s Margie Mulvihill, John Reynolds, their very talented young son John Paul with Peter McKiernan and guests kept dancers young and old on their feet for hours to the delight of the onlookers. Dylan Foley joined the highly esteemed group Girsa in their beautiful melodies and songs. Terry Patterson “Woman of the House” welcomed all and sundry to tea and some of the tastiest local made soda bread in our Donegal Cottage. The history of the cottage and the life and times of its people played out all day in stories and songs. A small taste of what’s to come in July.
Joey Abarta will join highly accomplished piper Benedict Koehler in the Uilleann Pipes program this year. Joey is a fine piper and teacher. Ryan mcGiver will also be with us for the first time to share his expertise on guitar, as will Doug Barr on concertina and Steve Wickens on the bodhran. Olive Farrell will teach Art while Anthony Collins will take time out of his busy schedule to hand down the craft of building the Dry Stone Wall. Rebecca McGowan will be on hand to teach beginner Sean Nos Dance in the Tir Na nOg Childrens program and in the Stepping Stone program. The Stepping Stone is tailored to teenagers and adults at beginner to basic level. In fact it is wonderful to see so many family members signing up to take classes together in this program. What better way to get to know ones Irish heritage than to spend a weeklong vacation with your children where you will have the chance to immerse yourselves in a class of Irish dance, song, art, music and more, given by talented and friendly teachers in a fun environment. In fact I would go so far as to say that for a father and son team, the Dry Stone Wall class would be reminiscent of how the craft was handed down in Ireland. I am sure Anthony will share many good stories on how the craft was passed on to him. These lovely walls are all over the Irish landscape.
Willie Kelly and Patrick Ourceau, two of the finest fiddle players and teachers this side of the Atlantic will bring their mastery of the instrument to the students as always. Willie and Patrick will join Mary Bergin for her special concert on Thursday evening. The New York Welcome with host Monsignor Charlie Coen will open the concert series again this year on Monday evening with no shortage of incredible performers. Each evening promises exquisite performances with a Special Concert on Friday celebrating 30 years of music with Cherish the Ladies with Joanie Madden, Mary Coogan , Mirella Murray, Kathleen Boyle and Eimear Arkins. Special guests Mary Bergin, Eileen O’Brien Minogue, Rose Conway, Kathleen Loughnane, Pauline Conneely, Margie Mulvihill and Kathleen Conneely will join in celebrating this wonderful accomplishment. All of these fine musicians are part of the weeklong faculty. How lucky are we to have such a powerful line up again this year. We never take any of it for granted . Neither teacher nor student. Thank you all for making this a premier Irish Summer Camp in North America. It is indeed the real deal. The pure drop.
I must say I love the red haired Irish woman in this year’s t/shirt. Little Anna Gavin has named her, Irish Elsa. Recently there was a discussion on whether we should design a different one for men but before we got around to it we noticed that more men than women were buying the t/shirt. We are proud to have such gentlemen in the Catskills Irish Arts Week family who will honor all the women in their lives each time they wear the CIAW” Woman of the Year” t/shirt.
Register now to get the class of your choice.
All the very best for now,
March 22nd 2015
Hello from East Durham March 2015
Happy Spring to everybody. Though you might not feel it Spring has arrived bringing with it just a little bit more snow, just enough to remind us who’s boss. Don’t you love the fellow that puts on the shorts and goes out sporting bright white legs on the first cold day of Spring. Now don’t say ye haven’t come across those brave and optimistic warriors. Hope everyone had a very festive Saint Patrick’s Day. East Durham was hopping I am delighted to report.
I just came up for air about an hour ago, the grueling, but extremely satisfying job of scheduling the Catskill Irish Arts week, having kept my nose to the grindstone for the past couple of weeks. We have so many majestic performances and events spread out over the village again this year. It is no small measure of all you musicians, singers, dancers and lovers of all things culturally Irish that help to make this event what it is today.
What is a culture without its own language. The Irish language has to be one of the most lyrical and deeply expressive of all languages. Micheal O’Maille from Connemara is here this year to teach us just that. This is one of the times when I wish I could take a class but duty calls. Micheal is a native Irish speaker and apart from teaching a workshop on the Irish language and its history, Micheal will also give a lecture, Mna Na hEireann on ( Irish women in mythology, religion, history, revolution, politics and literature.) Not to be missed!
What a line up of master teacher/performers again this year. There was a terrific feedback on the Listening Rooms last year so much so that I have added a few extra this year. These concerts offer a unique opportunity to enjoy these top class performers in an intimate setting.
He has taught in our workshops, played on our stages, he has been and still remains the highlight of our sessions and gatherings, filling our heads with yarns and stories of the life and times of a musician and his peers in the world of the best of the traditional music of Ireland. I am speaking of none other than Jackie Daly. A gentleman, scholar and gifted storyteller, Jackie is one of the most influential musicians of our time. We are immeasurably honoured to have Jackie’s presence as Artist in Residence at the Catskills Irish Arts week 2015 , a first for East Durham and a gift to us all. Jackie and his music partner renowned fiddle player Matt Cranitch were honoured for their contribution and preservation of Traditional Irish music during our Fall Series in October last year. Their concert that evening was simply breathtaking. We all look forward to hearing both of them again in July. Early registration is advisable.
All the best for now,
Monday, February 23, 2015
Hello from East Durham February 2015
Old man winter is beginning to outstay his welcome. Piling on one heaping measure of snow after another, causing chaos on the roadways and cabin fever to many who don’t care much at all for his Siberian sense of humor, it seems he is in no hurry to return to wherever he came from. Now I shouldn’t say everyone feels the same way. Skiers happily take to the slopes while children are enjoying” snow days”.” No school today, we have a snow day”. It must be a child’s paradise. The rolling countryside is majestic with its carpet of white on the mountains and in the valley. Beautiful white evergreens dance in the glistening moonlight, to the music of trickling water as it breaks through here and there in the frozen Creeks.
I have to say it is really beautiful here at any time of the year, which brings me to what I should be telling you about, the Catskills Irish Arts Week. Plans are well under way. We are honored to bring to you, a superb line up of the best of the best teacher/ performers, again this year as always. We are nearly there. All we have to do now is take the time to create for you a masterpiece from this extraordinary well of talent, familiar yet uniquely different from anywhere else, a week you have come to expect of the Catskills Irish Arts Week.
Did you know that it is 20 years since The United Nations declared 1995 as the Year of the Woman? In doing so they honored women in all walks of life, from astronauts to scientists, professors, artists, entrepreneurs, activists and beyond.
This year the Catskills Irish Arts Week is proud to celebrate the Year of the Woman in honoring all women who have contributed so much to the fostering and spreading of the Irish culture and it’s traditions in music, song, dance ,literature, arts and crafts. Two such women have been chosen to receive a special honor for their work and dedication to the preservation of our Irish music. Mary Bergin whistle player extraordinaire from Ireland will join equally accomplished whistle and flute player Joanie Madden who hails from New York on this occasion. Joanie is a founder member of the widely acclaimed group, Cherish the Ladies. We look forward to hearing the beautiful music of these two very fine musicians in their own unique concerts, supported by musicians, singers and dancers from our world class line up.
There are some very exciting additions to this year’s programs . For instance we will introduce a class free afternoon on Wednesday to allow some downtime for students and teachers to relax, play music or just simply enjoy a ride in the country. We will have an old fashioned Barn Dance that evening in place of the usual concert. This promises to be a lot of fun and will give the dancer in all of you the opportunity to take to the floor, so be sure to bring your dancing shoes. On Thursday afternoon from 4.00pm to 5.00pm a select group of instructors will give an Informance – performance with discussion. All students are invited to attend.
Online Registration is now open to all at www.catskillsirishartsweek.org Early Birds who register before 3/17/15 will be treated to a Special concert, free membership to our Organization MJQICSC for a year, a Free 2 Day pass to our East Durham Memorial Festival May 23rd and 24th, and a free pass to the East Durham Trad Fest on Saturday July 18th.
We thank you for your support and welcome new and returning members to the Catskills Irish Arts Week Family.
All the best for now,
October 23, 2014
Hello from East Durham!
The fall series on Columbus Day weekend was a smash hit thanks to everyone who came here to East Durham. The foliage lent a magical backdrop to the music , song and dance that rang out across the village from the halls, tea rooms and pubs.
The weekend commenced on Friday evening with a Ceili dance at the Shamrock House to the strains of the Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band. Couples took to the floor revealing individual styles in set patterns woven through years of practice. Calls rang out for extra dancers and no one was shy about taking the hand of another and joining in as if they were the missing parts of the puzzle. The music, wild and beautiful as the wind that blows in from the Atlantic over the west coast of Ireland from where it came, led the dancers from one set to the next with them barely stopping to take a drink. Iris Nevins and Linda Hickman led a delightful welcome session in the dining room where friend greeted friend and drank a toast to the music. The weekend continued with workshops, sessions, another ceili dance and great conversations over a few pints
Then there was the grand finale and what a finale it was: A Concert to Honour Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly. Here at the Catskills Irish Arts , and on behalf of The MJQuill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre, these awards are not bestowed lightly. Matt and Jackie were honoured for their many years of contribution in the performance and handing down of our traditional Irish music. Both Matt on fiddle and Jackie on accordian have surely earned this, and many more, awards for their contribution and playing of the music of Ireland particularly to that of their own region that is Sliabh Luachra.
Willie Kelly opened the concert with a few lovely tunes on the fiddle played in a style that inducted Willie into the Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann Mid Atlantic Hall of Fame this year. Monsignor Charlie Coen who was honoured this time last for his vast contribution to the Irish tradition in music, delighted everyone with his musicality and sense of humour. He invited Dylan Foley to the stage . When Dylan announced the tunes he planned to play Monsignor Charlie, in telling about a woman who used to always say to her son when he was asked to play a tune ,“play the one you got the medal for Johnny” Monsignor Coen said to Dylan “play the one you got the medal for Dylan” which he promptly did. It was magical and a mighty way of letting everyone know why Dylan won the All Ireland Senior Fiddle Championship this year in Sligo. Dylan was joined by his friend and partner in the music Dan Gurney . Don Meade added his own unique touch on the banjo. They ended up all playing together. It was riveting. Pat Egan was called on for a couple of songs. He sang a version of “I’ll tell my Ma” that stilled the room. That ended the first half. During the intermission Matt Cranitch was heard to say “How will we top that”.
The first three notes into the opening tune from Matt and Jackie made it clear why these two gentlemen were here and how the rest of the evening would go. Gentlemen they are and it resonates in their music and their presentation, both individually and together. The slides and polkas of the Sliabh Luachra tradition were exquisitely performed in a marriage of passion and sensitivity on fiddle and accordion. All broke loose when world class sean nos dancer Kieran Jordan swept the floor to a number of Matt and Jackie’s sets. What a dancer, what a lovely dancer. Kieran choreographed a new dance specially for the evening, “ the world premier” said Matt, to their tune Youghal Harbor. Kieran’s husband well known artist Vincent Crotty caught a short video of the dance . Check it out on youtube.
My last image of the evening was of the accordion and fiddle in the hands of the two masters Jackie and Matt, behind them another accordion and fiddle in the young talented hands of Dylan and Dan all playing our traditional music in the old Irish style. There was my dream.
Forgive me for being a bit longwinded on this note but I want all who could not make it to taste a little bit of the weekend. I also want to thank all the teacher/musicians, students ,friends and family of Catskills Irish Arts week for supporting this very special Columbus Day weekend.
All the very best,
Monday, October 6, 2014
Hello from East Durham
Why East Durham? Why The Catskills you may ask? Why take the same trail people have been taking for over a hundred years to Upstate New York in the Fall of the year? For some it may be the spectacular blood red and brilliant gold leaves of the maple trees dancing in an autumn breeze. For others it may be the shimmering tints of color on a lake when the sun lights up the trees around it. It may even be the smell of the hot spiced apple cider wafting in the air or shopping at the farm stands where harvest tables are filled with the pickings from the fields.
Here in East Durham it is all that and more. We have designed a very exciting Columbus Day weekend for you to enjoy, a weekend of Irish music, song and dance. This is as you may know is our 2nd Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week Fall Series. I just got off the phone with Dylan Foley who is looking forward to spending the weekend in our company. We will no doubt get a taste of the music that won him the highest award as senior Fiddle champion at the All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil in Sligo this year. His music is as pure and lovely as himself. Dylan will join notable fiddle player Willie Kelly, who will open the special concert honoring Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly on Sunday night at the Shamrock house at 8.00pm. Willie received the Mid Atlantic region Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Hall of Fame award this year . Pat Egan will delight us all with his songs and guitar playing. Matt and Jackie will take to the stage and bring their Sliabh luachra music to East Durham in what promises to be an unforgettable evening which no doubt will end up with a few extra surprises. Individually these two icons are just that, masters of the music and in the telling of how it is made. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for this concert. Pack a weekend bag and hop in the car. I did twenty years ago and I am still here!
Linda Hickman and Rose Flanagan together with Rose’s son Ciaran the piano will delight their audience in a concert at Gavin’s Country Inn on Sunday evening from 7.00pm to 8.00pm. Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride and Pat Egan will host a singing session in the tea room at Gavin’s on Saturday from 4.00pm to 5.30pm while Dan Gurney, Willie Kelly , Dylan Foley and Pat Egan may be heard in a delightful concert at the Blackthorne Resort on Saturday evening from 7.00pm to 9.00pm.
Monsignor Charlie Coen will host his 2nd Annual session on Sunday from 4.00pm to 5.30pm at the Shamrock House. Do not miss this one. It was a smash hit last year, reminded me of the sessions I was lucky enough to have grown up with in Ireland.
Keep those registrations coming in for the classes. The more the merrier. Students will enjoy six hours of instruction over two days in many instruments and in song. Kieran Jordan will keep you on your toes in the dance. Check the list of Instructors on the website.
Friday night and Saturday night will see Set and Ceili dancers take to the floor at the Shamrock House. Iris Nevins and Linda Hickman will host a session on Friday evening in the Shamrock House . Patty Furlong and Iris Nevins will host a session on Saturday at McGrath’s from 4.00pm to 5.00pm. I am sure impromptu sessions will pop up here and there throughout the weekend. See you there. Bring your cameras!
All the best for now,
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Hello from East Durham.
What a great summer it has been here in East Durham. The “ Hidden Ireland” as Cormac MacConnell put it when writing about his trip to the Catskills Irish Arts week. Did ye read it? What a Week in the Catskills by Cormac MacConnell in the Irish Voice, Wednesday August 13th , 2014.
Now we are about to enjoy what must be one of the nicest times of the year in one of the grandest of places. The fall foliage in the Catskill Mountains, indeed a sight to behold, draws visitors from all over the country as it has done for many a year. Cormac was struck by the Irish hospitality he encountered here during the Arts week and I can promise you all an equally warmhearted experience during our 2nd Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week Fall Series on Columbus Day weekend.
We have planned a fabulous weekend for you to enjoy. It will kick off with a ceili dance on Friday night followed by a full schedule of workshops and sessions on Saturday and Sunday with a ceili/set dance on Saturday night and a special concert on Sunday night honoring Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly for their extraordinary contribution to Irish music particularly to that of the Sliabh Luachra region. We are delighted that Matt and Jackie are able to join us for the weekend. We are equally delighted to have the company of a number of our Catskills Irish Arts Week musicians and dancers to teach and perform.
Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride, the well known and extremely talented Sean Nos singer from the Northwest Gaeltacht area in County Donegal will join us. Those who are lucky enough to have the time off can avail of a workshop with Doimnic on Saturday. Pat Egan is on board for song and guitar as I am for song.
Congratulations to our own Dylan Foley for that great win in Ireland. Senior All Ireland Fiddle Champion. Well done Dylan.
Dylan will join Willie Kelly, Rose Flanagan and Matt Cranitch in the fiddle program while his good friend Dan Gurney will join Patty Furlong and Jackie Daly in the accordian Program. On whistle we will have Linda Hickman and Margie Mulvihill on flute. With John Reynolds on fiddle, Brendan Fahey on ceili drums and Kieran Jordan dancing I’d say we have the makings of a very fine weekend indeed.
Monsignor Charlie Coen will host his 2nd Annual session on Saturday afternoon and the beautiful whistle playing of our own Mike McHale will be heard throughout the weekend.
You will enjoy this CIAW Columbus Day event at the Shamrock House, at Gavins during their Guinness Festival and at The Blackthorne during their October festivities. Join us in east Durham for this exciting weekend.
Visit us at www.catskillsirishartsweek to Use our Online Registration. You may call me at 518 678 5833 for tickets to the concert and dances or to register for a workshop over the phone.
All the best for now,
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Hello from East Durham
Well it has been over three weeks since we celebrated a fantastic 20th Anniversary of the Catskills Irish Arts Week. We hope you have all recovered from the week and are relishing the memories that will keep you smiling until we meet again.
Much thanks and appreciation to all of you who taught, studied, played and performed the music, song, dance, story, arts and crafts of our Irish culture. Thanks also to everyone who extended their hospitality to the Catskills Irish Arts Week family and friends. We could not have done it without your hard work, passion and sense of pride in this very important and lovely week in East Durham. A special thanks to everybody for the emails and conversations filled with positive feedback and fresh ideas. They are of great value to us as we move forward in the planning of this event each year.
I am delighted to be able to tell you that we are in the process of planning our second annual Catskills Irish Arts Week: Fall Series on Columbus Day weekend (October 10th-12th, 2014). It will include workshops in music, song and dance. There will be nightly ceili and set dances while we will also have afternoon and evening sessions.
This year’s Catskills Irish Arts Week: Fall Series will honor Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly for their work and contribution to Irish music particularly to that of the Sliabh Luachra region. It is with great pleasure that I tell you that Matt and Jackie will be with us for the weekend and will perform in a special concert dedicated to them on Sunday night, October 12th 2014.
Registration is now open and tickets may be purchased in advance. Call Reidin at 518-678-5833 or register online at www.catskillsirishartsweek.com!
All the best for now,
Sunday, July 14:
Hello from East Durham.
The shadows fell across the room as I lay down to rest. These are the words of the lovely song Clohinne Winds by Briege Murphy. I realized I had left something unsaid. Here it is. To our cherished CIAW family thank you to all of you for your dedication and support in keeping the Irish tradition alive for the past twenty years here in East Durham. There is a promise of glorious weather all week.
Let us all raise a toast to the 20th anniversary of the Catskills Irish Arts Week.
Go mbeirfhimid beo ar an am seo aris.
Slan go foil agus go n’eirigh an bothar libh.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Hello from East Durham,
The hive is humming throughout the village, with all its bees busy carrying out their rightly duties. With the arrival of Myron, the music consultant bee, into town during the week, the fever hit a high pitch. Yes, the sting will be ferocious ladies and gentlemen, and the fever will last a long time, but it will subside in time. Myron promises. No, we are not on the mead, as well you might think (that is reserved for the visitors to Bunratty Castle). We are in the throes of what it takes to present to you the 20th Year of the Catskills Irish Arts Week.
On visiting the various businesses whose help is generously offered up (we could not do this week without them), the buzz was everywhere. Dale, whose “green thumb” is so evident in the park-like gardens he and his family have created at the Blackthorne Resort, took an Irish minute to say hello. Emma’s boundless energy and that same infectious Irish smile and giving nature met with us at the Shamrock House (her new home). Jenny and Maryann, who are always good for “a cup of tea” if you are nice to them, welcomed us weary travelers to the Guaranteed Irish shop where one can buy anything from a Fry’s bar of chocolate to a precious piece of Irish jewelry for the one and only. Kathleen, always good for a lively conversation, has kept the welcome mat at the door of McGrath’s for many’s the year. Billy McComiskey talks about Kathleen’s hospitality over those years and has ordered us to “be good to Kathleen”. How could we not? You are the queen bee. Mike keeps the Kerry fires burning at Stack’s along with the music and stories. The chat was great, Mike. And Michelle at Michael Dee’s resort is no stranger to all the labor of love carried out on behalf of the Catskills Irish Arts Week.
We were not able to secure the classrooms at the school this year, which as you might imagine threw us into a bit of a fix, but, and it is a mighty “but”, all the people of East Durham came to the rescue , which makes this like the old days — a true East Durham event. They have offered up their homes and businesses for classrooms and some are even housing our teachers. For this we are truly grateful and excited.
So what am I saying here? I am saying “Come one, come all”, and be a part of our CIAW family. Join us in this very special celebration of the 20th year of the Catskills Irish Arts Week. Register to take a workshop, enjoy any one or all of our nightly concerts, dance or enjoy watching the dancers as they take to the floor in one or all of our nightly ceili dances. Listen and learn as our Lecturers and Presenters take you on a historical journey of Ireland’s history and its people. We have more. The Grand Finale, the Trad Fest. There really is something for everybody.
The Trad Fest at the end of the week, this year is dedicated to the late Felix Dolan, a longtime member of the CIAW teaching and performing faculty, and a true icon in the music tradition. Sadly Felix died just before Arts Week last year. The Trad Fest is a feast for all who love the traditional music, songs and dances of Ireland. It will host a wealth of talent from masters in these traditions from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, most of whom had the pleasure of knowing and performing with Felix and who have spent the week in our workshops and on our stages. It is a treasure to behold for all who cannot make it for the whole week. You will get a taste of what the week offers in a day, with seven complete concerts onstage in the Concert Pavilion, starting at noon with an opening prayer and dedication to Felix by Monsignor Charlie Coen. You will have the opportunity to dance or to enjoy the dancers as they take to the floor for a céilí mór in the Dance Pavilion from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. This dance is preceded by a performance given by the Sean O’Riada Comhaltas Branch of Albany N.Y. from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Register online or on the phone. We have evening and weekend hours at 518-678-5833 for your convenience. Just two more weeks! East Durham awaits you. The clock is ticking and it’s getting louder.
All the very best for now,
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Hello from East Durham,
East Durham is busy making preparations to welcome its Catskills Irish Arts Week family of students, teachers and friends of the Irish culture and traditions. Not least among them is the hospitality for which the Irish are well known around the world and is in no short supply here in the village. I am nostalgically reminded of the same preparations made at home in Ireland when “the Yanks were coming”, the Yanks being the American side of our families. I can still smell the freshly painted kitchens and parlors and feel the mad excitement that built in anticipation of “Yanks Week”. Visions of the blue white shadows cast on the night scenes when the full moon beamed down on the newly white-washed houses and walls happily haunt my memories. These annual homecomings were eagerly awaited and enjoyed by so many Irish families. They were the event of the year. It is with immeasurable pride that I tell you I am caught in the midst of this same mad excitement that is now building here in East Durham in anticipation of CIAW.
Everyone is working to make this a great week, and all the stops are pulled out for this, our 20th Celebration year. Are you in? Registration is still open, and we invite you all to visit the exceptionally large list of the best of the best in teachers and performers on our website.
There is something for everyone. The workshops are second to none. The evening concerts under the same Irish moon are magical and intoxicating. The ceili dances are of an ancient time and will compel your feet to move to the beat of the music even if you never danced in your life. They are also breathtaking to watch. Moving in sets of eight dancers, they each take a partner, and in the words of Cole Moreton in his book, Hungry for Home, “they are off, turning in tight patterns within small circles, bodies mad and free yet never colliding or stumbling into a space where they should not have been”. It sounds out of reach, but in the capable hands of teachers like Timmy McCarthy, Bridie Dal Pizzol and Padraig McEneany, for the young or old, whether you have been dancing all your life, or you have always wanted to do it but never took the time, now is your chance. Registration is easy, and remember if you are not into online registration, we are available at any time to help you with questions or to sign up for a class over the phone.
Billy McComiskey is teaching an advanced accordion class this year, specializing in tunes, phrasing and technique. His workshop style is as the man himself, a master of the instrument and an icon in the history of Irish traditional music. Billy’s students will be the happy recipients of a lifetime of work from a true master. His presence as always is a profound part of the CIAW. We love you Billy.
Micheal Tubridy, one of the founder members of the Chieftains, is among us this year, as is the renowned fiddler Seamus Connolly, our own Mike McHale and Monsignor Charlie Coen. With Cormac McConnell, Kevin Crawford, Patrick Ourceau, Willie Kelly, Brian Conway, Don Meade, Mary Bergin, and Kathleen Loughnane in the house, to name but a few, it might seem like I am name-dropping. I am. All of our teachers are in this category, and we are proud and deeply honored to have them grace our week.
I am running out of time and space here, so I had better sign off with a great big “Welcome to you all” from the CIAW. The doors are open and the kettle is on the boil. Pick up the phone and tell us “the Yanks are coming”. I can smell the paint. The sausages and rashers are on order.
All the very best for now,
Friday, May 30, 2014
Hello from East Durham!
The village rang out to the sounds of music and exuberant handclapping as thousands of festival goers turned up at our 37th East Durham Memorial Day Irish Festival last weekend. The weather was glorious which I am sure played no small role in bringing out families galore as well as the faithful music fans who journey here from far and wide year after year to enjoy their favorite bands. There was much to do for the children and the Irish hospitality served up by Terry Patterson, “The Woman of the House” herself, in the Famine Cottage, gave all who visited a warm taste of old Ireland.
What a great warm up to our Catskills Irish Arts Week. Yes everybody it is just around the corner. The countdown is on. Registration is well under way. Have you registered yet?
We have added a few new classes this year in order to make sure there is something for everybody. Tune Repertoire with Jimmy Keane and Ceili band with Billy McComiskey are for the students who need to build on their repertoire and experience what it would be like to play in a Ceili band.
The song department has been enhanced with no less than four teachers this year. Dan Milner will take the singer on a historical journey by land and sea while Mairin Ui Cheide will teach Sean Nos singing or Old Style as we say in Ireland. Mai Hernon who hails from County Sligo in Ireland is new to the Arts Week. Mai will bring her Sligo style songs and purely haunting voice to our event. And the ever popular Aoife Clancy who can and does sing pretty much any kind of song she likes, needs no introduction. We are indeed honored to have such a beautiful voice and talented teacher grace our week.
Songwriting is an immeasurably important ingredient in the telling of our history. With the gifted Robbie O’Connell at the helm our story is indeed being told and taught in the traditional style. His lovely relaxed style of singing and teaching guarantees the student a deep understanding of composition and musical balance. I have taken Robbie’s classes over the years and I can assure you there is always much to learn and take away from them. This is true if you have never put pen to paper, as well as if you are a seasoned songwriter.
The fiddle, flute and accordion departments have traditionally been well staffed with world-class teacher musicians, and this year is no exception. With a selection of instructors too numerous to mention, students have the opportunity to choose from different regional styles as they make their way through the Workshop and Instructor section on the website.
Early Registration is the key to being able to get the class of your choice. With just six weeks to go the Countdown has begun in earnest.
Our Tir Na nOg Childrens program is spectacular this year. With seven teachers and a healthy diet of music, song, dance, story, mime and crafts, our children are promised a week to remember. We are mindful of tailoring the program to suit the child. Our own Dylan Foley is back again to teach fiddle as requested by many of his students. Dylan himself is a former student of the children’s program. A very talented and acclaimed musician, you will hear him play all week at the sessions and in concert with “The Yanks.” Julee Glaub Weems returns to the program this year after a short absence. Julee is a very well known singer and musician, and together with her husband Mark, owns and operates the music school for children known as “Little Windows”. Julee’s son Declan will join her this year! Bernadette Fee and Regan Wick are on hand to teach dance as are Corbette Russell and Deirdre O’Flynn for story telling. Laura Travis who spent many years with our Workshop Department, has carved out a lovely Celtic crafts class specially designed for our program. Tommy Wadsworth our “ Pied Piper” and whistle teacher will greet the children each morning on the Uilleann Pipes .
That is all for now.
We look forward to hearing from you real soon. As always I may be reached at any time to help you with any concerns or questions.
All the best,
Monday, May 19, 2014
Hello from East Durham.
This weekend saw the members of the Iselin Ceili and Set dancing Club of Rahway New Jersey enjoy their Annual Catskills Set Dance weekend at the Shamrock House in East Durham. This event is organized by the lovely and aptly named Attracta Lyndon. The Club describes its members as fun loving people of all ages and fun loving they are
The dancers from New Jersey, New York, Boston, Texas and Philadelphia filed into town on Friday evening where they settled in for a little while before taking to the floor with boundless energy and no shortage of laughter in set after set. Margie Mulvihill, John Reynolds, Brendan Dolan and Patti Furlong kept pace with the dancers in their beautiful execution of delightful tune after tune. Monsignor Charlie Coen joined the musicians to the delight of the dancers.
Saturday morning saw them rise early to enjoy a set dance workshop after breakfast. Monsignor celebrated Mass at the Shrine in East Durham. Someone said that you could hear a pin drop when later in the afternoon Micheal O Maille gave a lecture on Mna Na hEireann, Women of Ireland. Michael is a noted Irish speaker and a Professor of Celtic Studies in Monmouth New jersey. His lectures come from a study of nine thousand years in Irish History. Michael will join us for the Catskills Irish Arts Week in July.
A Set Dance followed on Saturday night with Margie, John, Brendan and Patti taking to the stage again for another electric performance of music and dance. Mike McHale said to his wife Kathleen “ I’ll go up for one tune”. He forgot to come back! Such is the pull of the music. However I had the pleasure of Kathleen’s company for the evening. In between the tunes she told me one story after another about the old times and the music in East Durham . When Mike finally came down off the stage Kathleen gently took her husband by the hand and led him onto the floor where a new band had started to play a waltz. Such is the pull of the dance! Oh what a night.
Sunday morning saw everybody up and ready for another set dance workshop. I got there just in time to see John Quirk take the microphone and call his wife Susan to his side. Yes ladies and gentlemen the Shamrock House has been sold. A very emotional John told everyone that he felt he got all the glory upfront while his wife did all the work behind the scenes. They both worked very hard and were conscious of continuing the Irish traditions in the Shamrock House. John formally introduced Larry and his wife Emma Molloy and after a short and lovely exchange of words of support the torch was passed over to these new owners. We all welcome them to East Durham and wish John and Susan all the best in their new endeavor.
On my way home I stopped into the Guaranteed Irish shop where one may encounter all kinds of interesting people not the least the owner himself Donal Gallagher. I met with a couple from Texas who had come for the weekend. They told me they were part of the overflow of people who enjoyed their stay at Gavin’s and were looking forward to coming back again next year. We look towards other Ceili and Set Dance groups joining us here for more such events.
Our Dance Program at the Catskills Irish Arts Week includes dancing instructors from both sides of the Atlantic teaching step, set, sean nos, ceili and partner dancing.
Next weekend we have the Memorial Day Irish Festival directed by Tom McGoldrick. Go to www.eastdurhamirishfestival.com for the extraordinary line up of performers, again, from both sides of the Atlantic. Coming from Ireland is the new and very exciting group Hermitage Green. Be sure to check them out. This will be a weekend to remember.
All the best for now,
Enjoy the lovely weather.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Hello from East Durham.
It looks like the long winter is finally coming to a close. In less than ten weeks the village will resound to the music, song, dance and the cheery banter that is the Catskills Irish Arts Week .The countdown has begun.
We had a fine time last weekend at the Mid Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil in Parsippany N.J. What joy there was in watching the happy faces of the children of all ages compete in the competitions. Deep appreciation must go out to all the teachers who work so very hard in passing down the Irish music and dance traditions here in America. Their many students don’t just excel in the many categories of the competitions, many of them continue to travel to compete and win in the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil each year . We are honored to have a number of these dedicated teachers on our faculty. Congratulations to all of them and here at the Catskills Irish Arts Week we are proud to offer a full-time scholarship to a number of their students.
Congratulations to Willie Kelly who was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame last Friday night. Willie as many of you will know has been a very popular teacher and performer here in the Catskills Irish Arts Week for a number of years. We are hugely proud of his achievements both as a musician and a teacher. Read more about Willie in the fiddle workshop section.
Talking about the fiddle have you checked out the fantastic line up of teachers we have assembled for you this year. No stone has been left unturned in bringing you the best of the best. I do advise though to register as early as you can in order to get the workshop of your choice.
We are delighted to welcome Kevin Crawford a member of the very well known and highly regarded band Lunasa to our flute workshop section. Kevin joins an extraordinary line up of the finest flute players from both sides of the Atlantic. Check out Kevins bio and class description. Again I advise not to wait until the last minute to register as registrations are coming in early this year.
That is all for now. Have a look through all the workshop sections. It will give you a sense of what the week will hold for all concerned. Our desire is that everybody has a great time and that you come away with more tunes to play, more dances to dance, more songs to sing and more great friends to stay in touch with.
All the best for now,
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Hello from East Durham.
The snow banks are finally gone, the days are getting longer and plans for a great week in July are well under way. Congratulations and many thanks to our nearly one hundred students who registered on time to avail of our early bird offerings. You have helped to get the budget off to a good start and ensured some us a good night’s sleep at the same time! Thank You….we really appreciate this and know that you will enjoy the VIP concert we have planned especially for you as well as the free pass to the Trad Fest on Saturday.
However we must keep the momentum going, I have said over and over again how vital you the students are to the continued success of The Catskills Irish Arts Week. It is with this in mind that we have decided to put all of our students names into the hat and the lucky winner will receive a Full Time Registration for CIAW in July 2015 and also a Full Time Registration for the Fall Series in October 2014.
In addition we wish to recognize those students who have sponsored a teacher of their choice by extending to them an invitation to the Vip concert .This invitation and recognition is open to all who sponsor one of our wonderful teachers.
My heartfelt thanks to all the teachers who have given very generously of their time. You will find their input, passion and talent reflected in the programs throughout the week. What a mighty week it promises to be.
Bye for now,
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014:
Hello from East Durham!
A very belated happy Saint Patrick’s day to you all. This special day in the Irish calendar is celebrated all over the world. It is a day when all people love to be a part the march, the music, song, dance ,poetry, literature and most of all the comraderie and fun that is essentially Irish.
Here in the Irish village of East Durham we invite you to sample a taste of Traditional Ireland during our Catskills Irish Arts Week from July 13th to 19th 2014. You will be immersed in a week of music, song, dance, poetry, storytelling, literature, Irish language and crafts through workshops, lectures, concerts, traditional pub sessions and gatherings.
Congratulations to our Early Bird Registrants who registered before March 1st. As promised you will receive an invitation to our VIP concert and a free ticket to The Trad Fest this year honoring Felix Dolan.
The VIP concert invitation is still being offered for those who register prior to April 1st 2014
.Newly added to the long list of extraordinary Artists who will perform at this concert is fiddle player extraordinaire Seamus Connolly, recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2013. He also received a National Heritage Fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, the highest form of recognition bestowed on a traditional artist. The ever popular and highly requested Brendan Dolan will join Seamus on piano .Brendan is the son of our much loved Felix Dolan, esteemed piano player who passed away last year.
Mary Bergin “widely acknowledged as one of the great masters on the tin whistle” will enchant us all with her magical touch on the tin whistle. Mary needs no introduction to the Catskills. She has honored us with her company and her music for many’s the year. In fact we now claim her as one of our own! Mary will be joined by the lovely Kathleen Loughnane “widely acclaimed for her arrangements and playing of the music of the Irish harp, ranging from the exuberant life of her dance music to the haunting beauty of her slow airs”.
“When Michael Coleman came to New York from County Sligo in 1917 he set into motion a legacy of fiddle playing that not only continues, but has also strengthened over the years. Andy McGann born in the Bronx in 1928 to Sligo parents studied for a short time under Michael Coleman . When Andy died in 2004 he left an undeniable hole in the world of Irish Music , but like Coleman and those before him McGann had passed the torch to younger players most notably Brian Conway. In an interview with Helene Dunbar for the Irish Music Magazine in 2007 Brian said of Andy, “McGann’s combination of soul, warmth, and technical brilliance (i.e., clean playing) set the benchmark for others to aspire to”. “Studying and playing with Martin Wynne for twenty years in long sessions in my home would often involve dissecting the playing of Andy McGann”. This intense study and loyalty to the style of playing the music has led Brian Conway to set a benchmark of his own, a benchmark that will ensure the future of Michael Coleman’s legacy.
We are honored and delighted to have Brian Conway play for you on our VIP concert.
This is it for now. We have many more VIP concert Artists to tell you about next week.
In the meantime you have three weeks left to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration special which offers you an invitation to this one of a kind concert.
All the very best,
Reidin O’Flynn, Artistic Director.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Hello from East Durham:
I know, I know, vacation is vacation, except of course student emails to CIAW from Hawaii, Alaska. Canada, China and America just could not go unanswered.
What a pleasant way to respond to an email: sitting by the blue green waters of the Caribbean in 80 degrees, with a cool breeze blowing, sipping a freshly made pina colada far away from the mountains of snow piling up at home in the Catskills. The only bug around was the CIAW bug that I was bitten by many years ago. How many of you have fallen to this intoxicating feeling? It surely awaits new members.
The schedule posted this year is filled to capacity from beginner to master classes and promises unforgettable evenings filled with music, song, dance, poetry and storytelling. How I loved such evenings as a child.
The children in our Tir Na nOg program will have the opportunity to experience the handing down of our Irish culture and traditions.
Do register early to make sure you get the class of your choice. Register by March 1st for free tickets to our VIP concert and all day Trad Fest
Don’t hesitate to call me for help or support at… 518 678 5833
All the very best for now,
Monday, February 10, 2014
Hello from East Durham! The final touches were put to the Catskills Irish Arts Week schedule last night. It has been a grueling couple of months with so many events and performers to synchronize. The end result, I do believe you will be as excited about as I am.
Our huge line up of master teachers this year allowed for new and innovative programs that will continue our mission of developing all elements of Irish culture.
For many years I have listened to attending students and teachers alike. I heard what they had to say and ongoing discussions have prompted these new developments. Among these new programs this year we are fortunate and very happy to launch our first literary workshop. Responsible for this is Ireland’s own Cormac MacConnell. We feel honored and excited to have “This little bird blown off course” land on our doorstep. Welcome to East Durham Cormac.
Thank you to our students and teachers for the last twenty years, your attendance and contribution has played a critical part in
We look forward to seeing old friends and welcoming new members of this ever growing Catskills Irish Arts Week family in July this year.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Hello from East Durham!
Just a note to let everyone know that the Catskills Irish Arts Week 2014 schedule of events is almost completed, and will be posted here very soon. Also, sincerest thanks to all of you who supported us in every way last year; we couldn’t have done it without you.
Catskills Irish Arts Week is alive and flourishing, and, as we prepare for our twentieth anniversary, we will continue to post frequent updates — both on our website here, and on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CatskillsIrishArtsWeek) — all by way of calling your attention to our many culturally significant offerings.
We are all looking forward to seeing you this July!
Donal Gallagher, Executive Director
Reidin O’Flynn, Artistic Director
Myron Bretholz, Artistic Consultant
Monday, December 31, 2013
Happy New Years from the Catskills Irish Arts Week. We are super close to launching our registration so make sure to place close attention over the next few days. We will be offering some new programs this year like Beginner level classes and an Irish knitting class.
We WILL have Early Registration Incentives too…A really great incentive will be offered for those who register by 3/1/14 and an even better incentive for those registering by 2/1/14. We anticipate many more students this year and have added about 20 additional Master Instructors / Master Workshops.
Our 20th Anniversary shall be the best ever.
Reidin O’Flynn, Artistic Director