THE 40th Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, which starts on Saturday, will feature the unveiling of a new bronze bust of the famed piper.
Harry Hughes is involved in the festival and said it is a landmark year. “We’re having a look back and moving forward at the same time in the sense that one of the key lectures on Wednesday is on Willie Clancy, the man and his music and is delivered by Pat Mitchell. An awful lot of people know about the Willie Clancy Summer School but if you ask them about Willie Clancy, they’d know little or nothing. This talk is by a piper who learned from Willie Clancy, who came here as a teenager and is an authority on Willie Clancy,” he said.
Mr Mitchell will officially unveil the bust and then it will go on display at Áras Oidhreacht an Chláir.
There are also events to honour the memory of Muiris Ó Rócháin.
“Its long-time secretary and programme director, Muiris O Rócháin, died last October. Tuesday afternoon is a tribute to him. It’ll involve music, song, story, dance and folklore because Muiris was a folklore collector, as well as everything else.
“It’ll be wound up by the Sráid Eoin Wren from Dingle. Muiris was always constantly involved with them. He came from John Street in Dingle and was captain of the wren for many years. It’s on from 3pm up until 6pm and that’s going to be one great afternoon.”
The concluding concert of the summer school this year, and in years to come, will be the Muiris Ó Rócháin Memorial Concert. As well as that, a scholarship has been introduced in his honour. “The Muiris Ó Rócháin memorial scholarship is another feature of the 40th summer school. It’s a family scholarship that entitles a musically gifted family to have their tuition and accommodation covered for the week of Willie Clancy. The winners this year are the Slattery family from Nenagh.”
He said there will be some interesting speakers during the week. “We’re emphasising our connections with Gaelic Scotland and Malcolm McClean, director of the Scotland Gaelic Art agency is giving the opening talk about Gaelic arts in Ireland and Scotland. On Monday, Harry Bradshaw’s lecture is dealing with recordings of Irish traditional music before 1960. It’s going back to music that was pre-Willie Clancy summer school. On Thursday, James Keane, an accordion player who has been living in the States for years, is talking about his life and times as a musician in Ireland and in the States. It’s about his own personal musical journey.”
Harry is confident there will be a big turnout for the 40th anniversary. “Normally, we’d have 800-plus students. That’s what we’ve had over the last number of years and we’d expect there’d be a similar number this year. The bookings look to be reasonably strong. We’re hoping and we expect there’ll be a certain nostalgia about the 40th anniversary. People who were here years ago might decide to come back and revisit the place.”
The Willie Clancy Summer School will run from this Saturday until Sunday, July 15.