As anyone who’s visited Ireland can attest, Summer isn’t so much a season here as it is the timeframe from June to August. In the traditional Irish music scene, Summer Schools are a fully immersive experience offering amazing opportunities to improve one’s musicianship all the while having the mightiest craic with round-the-clock trad sessions. Many families organise their summers around the various schools, with a visit to the Fleadh—whatever town it’s held in—being the highlight. Below, we’ve drawn up a list of the most popular Summer Schools in Ireland. If we’ve missed one, or you know of Irish Summer Schools in other countries, be sure to add them in the comments for others to see. Enjoy!
20th June – 1st July 2022
Blas has a well developed ethos where access to the best of tuition from some of the most famous musicians, singers and dancers is combined with classes and lectures given by experts in the academic study of our traditions. Held in the University of Limerick, home to the famous Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and featuring many of OAIM’s tutors: Derek Hickey, Alan Reid, Kevin Crawford, Majella Bartley, Niall Keegan and Jim Higgins.
The Willie Clancy Summer School (Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy):
2nd-10th July 2022
This is a major, if not the major, traditional Irish music event held annually in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, named after the famous piper Willie Clancy. With instrument and dance classes, lectures, workshops, recitals and céilithe all through the week, it really has to be experienced to be believed!
National radio stations host programmes from the town during the festival, it’s that important! Known locally as “Willie Week” it even has it’s own wikipedia page. People come from far and wide, literally from all over the world, to experience the magic that is Willie Week and the beauty that is rural Clare. It’s like a pilgrimage for traditional music fans and musicians. Put it on your bucket list!
10th-16th July 2022
The South Sligo Summer School was founded in 1987 in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo to conserve and promote the rich tradition of music, song and dance of the area. With a full programme of classes, workshops, céilithe, concerts, recitals and talks, there is special emphasis on the old Sligo traditional style of playing.
The rugged beauty of Sligo as the backdrop to the pure drop, makes this an even more alluring festival to work your holidays around.
16th-23rd July 2022
Every July Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, plays host to the award winning Joe Mooney Summer School, a week long festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance named after the man who did so much to promote the cause of Leitrim and his beloved town.
23rd-29th July 2022
Belfast TradFest is a jam-packed week of traditional music, song and dance, featuring some of the best traditional musicians, singers & dancers from across these islands. Featuring a summer school and a full programme of concerts, workshops, talks, lectures, sessions, céilís & festival club, this week is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture & heritage. Watch out for OAIM tutor Mikie Smyth!
29th July – 1st August 2022
The O’Carolan Harp and Traditional Music Festival is held in Keadue, County Roscommon every August Bank Holiday.
The Festival was started in Keadue in 1978, to commemorate the famous Harper Turlough O’Carolan who lived in the area and is buried beside Keadue. Keadue is a small village of 200 people located on the shores of Lough Meelagh at the foot of the Arigna Mountains. The Festival includes Concerts, Ceili, Tuition on the Harp, Set Dancing and Harp Recitals.
31st July – 7th August 2022
This event is the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. It attracts in the region of 500,000 visitors to the host town every year. If you love Irish music, then set yourself the goal to attend a Fleadh at least once in your life!
And an Indian Summer School!
12-16th October 2022
Foxford is a small town in county Mayo, steeped in Irish music and famous for their woollen mills. The aim of this festival is to continue to nourish and grow the culture of Irish Music, Song and Dance in an accessible and fun environment. It’s a family friendly festival, a cultural weekend of music, song and dance with concerts, workshops, master classes, session trail, junior, teenage and senior events. All set in the beautiful surroundings of county Mayo.
So there you have it! You could plan a wonderful holiday around Ireland following these festivals… and we did warn you that the “Summer” in Summer School doesn’t imply that you need to pack your shorts! 🤣 Just make sure you have your Irish instruments and sure you’ll be right as rain!
Did we miss any of your favourite festivals? Let us know in the comments. For our international audience, please feel free to add Irish Summer Schools from your corner of the world. Even if you don’t know any, hop on and say ‘hi’!! 👋
8 responses to “Summer Schools in Ireland for Traditional Irish Music”
Unfortunately, for 2022 it is already a bit too late for me. Are there already Summer School dates for 2023, 2024?
Cairde Na Cruite Harp Festival
The 36th International Festival for Irish Harp 30 June – 2 July
An Griannin, Termonfechin
Feakle Trad Festival, Co Clare! August 14th –
Ireland in July, followed by Interceltique in august in France!…..