Hyde Summer School provides a musical feast

The 12 th annual Dr. Douglas Hyde Summer School opened its doors on Monday morning last to hundreds of students with one thing in common – the love of Irish music!   The Dr. Hyde Summer School has been an incredible success story over the last decade and this year is no exception with no fewer than 400 students participating in classes ranging from tin whistle to harp and from flute to bodhran.   Indeed numbers enrolling into the classes are ever-increasing with ages ranging from four-years-old to seventy years young in some cases. Additionally, there has also been an increase in the amount of adults who are now attending the school.   Paddy Ryan, fiddle tutor at the school, has noticed the increases in popularity in his own class this year alone.   ‘There is a steady increase in the numbers attending classes in the school. Last year I had nine or ten students and this year I have up on seventeen.’   The popularity of Irish Traditional Music not only here in Ireland but also internationally has intensified significantly in recent times. Many people from many different countries attend the school annually.   ‘I’ve had students from Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt and Italy, to name but a few countries. For instance this year I have one student from Vancouver in Canada and another from the Isle of Man’ said Paddy, who broadcasts The Heathery Breeze, a programme dedicated to traditional music on Shannonside/Northern Sound every Saturday night.   Paddy also attributes some of the increase in popularity of Irish music to the summer schools and this in turn has helped raise its profile.   ‘There is a serious demand for tuition nowadays because of the fact the popularity of the Traditional Irish Music went sky-high during the past number of years. The music is getting worldwide admiration is this is a reason for the interest internationally’.   Paddy also felt that the bands who travel and tour the world regularly preaching and playing Irish music are having a great influence on the status of the music worldwide.   ‘We have the likes of Dervish and Alton who tour around the world. This can only have a positive outcome for the way Irish music is being perceived’ he said.    The success of the summer schools has been very promising. The Willie Clancy summer school based in Co. Clare was the first summer school of its kind and was set up in 1973. More summer schools were organised during the 1980’s like those in Achill Island and Tubbercurry in the 80s which are still run with some degree of success and indeed this is the Dr. Douglas Hyde’s twelvth year in existence.   However what about the future of Irish music and the summer schools. Is there a fear that the trend could reverse itself and that it may become unfashionable in the years which lie ahead.   ‘I feel the future of traditional music is very safe. The standard of young people playing is unbelievable and the amount of them which have a genuine interest would mean we would be very hopeful for the future. It is in safe hands certainly’ added Paddy, who also teaches at many of the other schools during the summer months.   Like Paddy, the people who are involved with this summer school are extremely proud of their music traditions and are adamant that its prominence will only blossom from where it is today.    If you’d like to sample some of this magic then there are recitals taking place in Ballaghaderreen tonight (Thursday 4 July) and tomorrow night (Friday 5 July). These recitals will include some of the most accomplished and well-known musicians in Ireland playing their favourite tunes on the fiddle, tin whistle, bodhran, accordion, banjo and concertina and both nights are guaranteed to be wonderful occasions of celebrating Irish traditional music.