Summer time in Ireland, particularly July is really the best time to get your concentrated dose of learning in music, dance, singing, culture and craic with a mix of well-established festivals and new ones springing up all over the place.
I remember my first trip to the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, travelling down from Dublin to Co.Clare in 1999, zipping down the roads in my new bright red, sporty Honda. Besides the gorgeous trip down the very narrow hedge-bound winding country lanes and roads to get there, glimpsing the Atlantic over the brow of the hill, the shock of dancing every day and every night for a week in a sea of 300 or more slightly damp, very enthusiastic, experienced dancers was absolutely exhilarating, as you can see:
It’s hard to convey the excitement these festivals generate : providing comfortable predictability, laced with the unexpected. And on each of my successive return trips almost every year since then, as I said to Bill Lynch at the Set Dancing News, they never disappoint – always absolutely brilliant, no matter what the weather.
IRELAND SUMMER SCHOOLS (in date order)
Seosamh MacGabhann (Joseph McGavin) Summer School, Kilmovee, Co. Mayo 27th June – 3rd July 2015 This is a relatively new festival started in 2011, with music classes each morning & sean nós dance classes and singing classes amongst others, in the afternoon. http://smgsummerschool.com/
Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co.Clare 4th July – 12th July 2015 Also affectionately known as Willie Week, this is probably the longest running of these festivals. There’s always a great buzz in Miltown: we call it Set Dancing Mecca! Classes for music and dance are run each morning from 10-1pm from Monday – Saturday, interspersed with a wide range of afternoon and evening set dancing céilís around the area, singing sessions & music sessions in pubs. Highly recommended for those who want full immersion, deep dive into Irish culture & craic.
South Sligo Summer School, Tubbercurry,Co.Sligo 12th July – 18th July 2015 This has become my favorite festival for it’s laid back nature but also the learning to dance program is excellent. Different energy to Willie Clancy, it’s more intimate, gentler and very enjoyable in this beautiful part of Co.Sligo, with very deep music & dance tradition. Set dancing and music classes are in the morning 10am-1pm, a fantastic sean nós dance program in the afternoon with Edwina Guckian (deep dive immersion here also!) from 4-6pm and a range of concerts in the afternoons, and set dancing céilís in the evenings, with sessions in the pubs to follow. http://www.sssschool.org/index.htm
Joe Mooney Summer School, Drumshanbo, Co.Leitrim 19th July- 25th July 2015 If you have any energy left after the first two festivals, Drumshanbo is delightful. A similar format to South Sligo Summer School, the difference here is the focus is very much around the unusual main street, which has a pedestrian mezzanine above the lane of traffic, where you can sit out in the sun, dance, listen to music & enjoy the people going by and enjoy a number of excellent evening ceilis. http://www.joemooneysummerschool.com/
Camp Rince 2014, Dublin, Co.Dublin July 27th-31st 2015 A workshop in Irish step dance with expert tuition from Ronan McCormack in solo technique, stage performance , céilí, show style and injury prevention.
The Irish Dance Festival – NEW COMBINED FESTIVAL Carlingford, Co.Louth 2nd-9th August 2015 2014 saw the emergence of a festival that blends Irish step dancing, Irish set dancing & Irish sean nós dancing in the absolutely stunning 800 year old town of Carlingford, on the Carlingford Lough. http://www.irishdancefestival.com/
FURTHER STUDY IN IRISH TRADITIONAL MUSIC & DANCE
Blas, University of Limerick, Limerick June 22nd- 3rd July 2015 If you want a more structured intensive program which provides academic credit for further studies –range of Masters degrees, there is this program at University of Limerick. http://www.blas.ie/
USA SUMMER CAMPS I have this information from The Irish Dancing Magazine about a range of Irish step dancing camps across the USA. I’d be very happy for reviews or more information about any of these and other favorites you may have.
CAMP RINCE CEOL (NYC), USA for Adult Dancers- NEW!! 5th-10th July 2015 Camp Rince CEOL now welcomes Adult Irish dancers from around the world for a week of hard work for individual dance improvement, enhancement of physical abilities and to increase social opportunities, through céilí, music and other optional Irish cultural activities and events. The Camp has put together a full week of all that the kids’ camp has and more….our voices have been heard…Dance Camp isn’t just for kids, anymore I Let’s create a global adult Irish Dance movement….at Camp Rince Ceol 2015!! http://www.irishdancecamp.com/
CAMP RINCE CEOL, Santa Inez, California, USA 21st-26th June 2015
CAMP STEP ABOUT, Schenectady, New York, USA 7-12th July 2015
CAMP RINCE CEOL, Schenectady, New York, USA 11th-31st July 2015
CAMP RINCE NUA, Lenox, Massachusetts, USA 16th-21st August 2015
GERMANY SUMMER CAMPS
CAMP RINCE BERLIN, Berlin, Germany 17th-23rd July 2015
CAN’T MAKE THE NORTHERN SUMMER? If you decide to go in either Spring or Fall, you are most likely going to find that regular weekly classes in an area or weekend workshop/ festivals is what is most available. Bill Lynch, Set Dancing News has an exhaustive listing of Irish set dancing, Irish sean nós dancing classes, workshops and festivals all over the world. http://sets.ie/
Happy, sunny dancing, folks!!