Willie Clancy Summer School
The Willie Clancy Summer School (Irish Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy) is Ireland's largest traditional music summer school held annually since 1973 in memory of the uilleann piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance. In addition, a full program of lectures, recitals, dances (céilithe) and exhibitions are run by the summer school.
All events happen in the town Milltown Malbay (Sraid na Cathrach) in Irish, in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland, during the week beginning with the first Saturday of July. The weekly registration includes six classes, all lectures and recitals (except the Saturday concert) and reduced price admission to céilithe. Lectures, recitals, concert and céilithe are open to the public.
Founded by a committee of local people, including Martin Talty, Muiris Ó Rócháin and Harry Hughes, who were all friends or fellow musicians of the late Willie Clancy in 1973, the school has a fine reputation as an event where Irish traditional music can be learned and practised by all. People from as far as Japan and Argentina come every year. Students are children or teenagers as well as adults. All are mixed within classes according to level of prowess on a particular instrument. It is possible during the week to attend activities as different as reed making workshops for pipes, as well as concertina classes, for example.
Classes are held in different venues: schools, hotels, and private houses. Depending on the student's wishes, it is possible to change teachers during the week. Teachers are chosen for their expertise and many are renowned exponents of Irish music and song.
Craic agus ceol: "fun and music" in Irish, is a frequent description for the atmosphere. During the week, crowds come to Miltown solely for informal playing, or to listen to traditional Irish music in all kinds of venues - pubs, kitchens, and streets. This audience does not necessarily attend classes. Many attendees will come for the craic, with the local Spanish Point beach a well known hot spot for various parties of different musical varieties. Attendees will regularly get just one hour of sleep due to the level of banter. The density of musicians leads to pubs being jammed with sessions. Some venues may simultaneously host up to five sessions.