An Irish Good-bye, An American Thank You

Though it has been almost a week since I returned home from fiddle school in Ireland, I can still hear the last session ringing in my head. And here is what it sounds like:

Sessions like this went on all night and every night throughout the fiddle week in Glencolmcille. Though there were only two bars in the town, every night both were filled with music like this until the wee hours of the morning. I think I’m still trying to recover from my lack of sleep, even a week later. Those who frequent Irish Arts Week in the Catskills know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a tune learning marathon complete with sessions that never actually end. The music is still ringing true in my head and in my heart.

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Music and Dancing, Like Peas and Carrots

Learning music isn’t just about learning the tunes. Anyone can memorize notes. But when it comes to traditional Donegal music, knowing the dances can help tell the story of the tunes, making it easier to feel the music and help it sink in.

At the Donegal Fiddle School I attended in Glencomcille, learning the dances was an important part of learning the music. For a half day on Thursday, we had no fiddle classes. Instead we had dancing lessons in preparation for the Ceilidh dance that night.

In Donegal music, most of the dances are couple dances because they were done in kitchens where there wasn’t much room. Here are a few examples of the dances we learned:

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