Catskill Irish Arts Week Logo
July 14-20 2024


Lectures and Presentations


The Shamrock House, 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Monday, July 11th

Seán Ó Sé: Saol Caite le hAmhráin agus Scéalta / A Life in Song and Story

Film screening, presented by Dr. Matthew Allen

Seán Ó Sé’s long and illustrious career has touched all bases in the Irish music business spanning from his work in the 1960s in concert, radio, and recording with Seán Ó Riada and Ceoltóirí Chualann across to his many decades of musical performance and story telling in genres as diverse as variety concerts, céilí band, and cabaret. Seán’s musical life is explored within the contexts of his deep attachment to the Irish language, West Cork and Beara, and his passion for his career in teaching and education administration in Cork City. The film features live performances and interviews with longtime associates from the worlds of music and education. Produced by Matthew Allen, with the support of UCC School of Music and Theatre, Cork Film Centre, and Wheaton College MA, it was shown for the first time on TG4 (Irish-language television) on New Year’s Day 2016.

Guitarist Matthew Allen teaches at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. His interest in Irish music began with hearing Planxty, and then the music of Seán Ó Riada. He met Seán Ó Sé In 2002 while a Fulbright fellow at UCC. Their association has led to the film on Seán’s life and music.

Tuesday, July 12th 

Flowing Tides: History and Memory in an Irish Soundscape – Clare Music in the Age of Rebellion 1898-1927

Lecture and book launch by Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin

Although Clare enjoys a reputation as a storehouse of traditional music, little has been written about the sociopolitical genesis of this soundscape, or the seminal events that shaped it during Ireland’s prolonged Age of Rebellion (1898-1927). Clare music making owes much to the combined sonic signatures of revolutionary nationalism, the Catholic Church, and the bands of British army garrisons stationed throughout the county in the years leading up the Rising of 1916. Focusing on the sounds of rebellion, as opposed to the written records of rebellion, this lecture will draw on the music and voices of those who lived through this turbulent era, which saw Clare undergo radical transformation from a colonial outpost to a revolutionary county. (Lecture based on an extract from Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin’s new book, Flowing Tides: History and Memory in an Irish Soundscape, published by Oxford University Press, which will be for sale at the lecture).

Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin is an award-winning musician, ethnomusicologist and historian. A multilingual scholar, he is one of the world’s leading authorities in Irish Studies. Formerly Jefferson Smurfit Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Missouri, he holds the bilingual Johnson Chair in Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University, Montréal.




Wednesday, July 13th

The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music

Preview (with live music) of a multimedia digital collection, presented by Séamus Connolly and Elizabeth Sweeney

Over the past fifteen years, Irish fiddle master Séamus Connolly has been compiling and recording a collection of tunes, songs, and stories for publication. The tunes and songs come from many sources, and many of them are not often heard. Some have different versions; others are newly composed, or come from a different tradition and are played with an Irish style. Over a hundred of today’s master musicians and singers offered their services to the project and have interpreted the old tunes and songs in their own inimitable way. In 2016, the Boston College University Libraries will use the Omeka platform to present Séamus Connolly’s collection of over 300 tunes and songs in digital form, including audio, transcriptions, and stories. The collection as a whole pays tribute to the music of earlier generations. This “sneak preview” of the collection will also feature live music by contributing artists.

Séamus Connolly is a renowned fiddle-player from Clare now living in Maine. He retired in 2015 from his faculty position at Boston College, where he founded the Gaelic Roots Festival and concert series. Elizabeth Sweeney is librarian for the Irish Music Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.




Thursday, July 14th

The Life and Music of Joe Cooley

Lecture by Dr. Charlie Piggott

This presentation will deal with the life and music of the legendary Irish (Galway) accordion player Joe Cooley. He had a unique way and style of playing traditional Irish music, being one of the first musicians to contribute, in the early years of the last century, to the changeover from single-row melodeon to double-row accordion playing. Joe had a most interesting musical career. Continually compelled to seek out the company of other musicians, from whom he absorbed new tunes and new music, he lived and performed in Galway, Clare, Dublin, London, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. His music was closely associated with the set-dancing tradition in the Sliabh Aughty mountainous region of South Galway/North-East Clare. Joe’s unique inspirational style of playing still influences many C#/D accordion players, long after his passing in 1973.

Charlie Piggott (founder member of De Danann) was one of the most influential Irish banjoists of his generation, and now plays a Double-Ray Hohner C#/D melodeon. Receiving acclaim for his old-style recordings and his talks and lectures, Charlie is presently engaged on compiling a biography of the famed Galway accordion player Joe Cooley.

Friday, July 15th

The Star Above the Garter – celebrating the music of Denis Murphy & Julia Clifford

Lecture, with live performance of tunes from this iconic album, presented by Dr. Matt Cranitch

The music of Sliabh Luachra, on the Cork/Kerry border, was probably heard for the first time by many people on The Star Above the Garter (1969). This landmark recording featured Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford (brother and sister) from Lisheen, near Gneeveguilla, Co. Kerry. Both learned to play the fiddle from Pádraig O’Keeffe, and were undoubtedly among his best pupils. They are widely considered to have been leading exponents of the Sliabh Luachra style, with their classic recording standing as a testament to the beauty and power of unaccompanied fiddle-playing. In celebrating their music, this tribute will present biographical details and background information, supported by audio and video archive material. An integral feature of the presentation will be the playing of tunes from The Star Above the Garter. All fiddle-players are invited to become part of this special event, and to participate in “re-creating” music from this classic album.

Matt Cranitch is well-known as a fiddle-player and teacher, and as an authority on the music of Sliabh Luachra. He performs regularly in Ireland and abroad, and presents many lectures and masterclasses. He has made various highly-acclaimed recordings, and is author of a number of books on Irish traditional music.

Saturday, July 16th (7:30 – 8:30pm)

 “1916 – Eirí Amach na bhFilí” — G.P.O. to C.I.A.W.”– Mícheál Ó Máille

  • Cúlsal don Eirí Amach na Cásca 1916
    Backdrop to the 1916 Easter Rising
    America’s role
    The role of women, language, culture (music, dance,sports,literature,drama etc;)
    le Mícheál Ó Máille
    – recipient of the (inaugural) Douglas Hyde/Dubhghlas de hÍde Award