The hopes of summer gathered at Rory Dolan's in Yonkers last Sunday courtesy of the Woodlawn School of Irish Music. It was their early foray into fundraising for their young students who aspire to attend Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (www.fleadh 2009.com) in Tullamore, Co. Offaly to compete in the All-Ireland Champion-ships and the weeklong Scoil Eigse that precedes it from August 16-23 that allows for bonding with Irish and other international students of Irish traditional music. If the CCE Fleadh system is to be credited with giving young students the incentive to practice and maintain basic standards and skills, events like the Rory Dolan's afternoon really encourage these fledgling musicians that their time won't be wasted because they are embarking on life-long friendships and a "gra" (love) for the music. Rory's was packed all afternoon with parents, grandparents and well wishers who enthusiastically gave plentiful applause for the entertainment of students and special guests who donated their time and talent and willingly parted from their cash for the raffles and door donation for the cause. The woman of the house directing traffic on stage was no neophyte either, but one Joanie Madden, just back the night before from entertaining every last person aboard an Irish cruise of the Caribbean. With her usual wit and aplomb she kept the entertainment flowing and shuffled the past, present and future stars on and off stage with great sincerity. A great afternoon for the collaborative Woodlawn School of Music (www. woodlawnirishmusic. com) run by Michelle McLoughlin, Mary Clancy, Mary Coogan, Deirdre Connolly, Jerry O'Sullivan and Brendan Fahey, where community, commitment and craic were as much a part of the scene as the musical talent that brought it together. The teachers also acknowledged Martin O'Grady, a local businessman who five years ago gave birth to the school by donating a house in Woodlawn for the classes. Lastly, Rory Dolan and Mike Carty who provided the always popular venue and room for the event were given thanks as well. It was a busy weekend for the McLoughlin family as Michelle and Chris were part of a large gathering on Friday night in Blauvelt to honor Chris's mom, Patsy Early McLoughlin, for her 40 years of teaching Irish step dancing. Congratulations to her and also best wishes for a speedy recovery for the dean of Irish dance teachers, Peter Smith, who is ailing at the moment.
Must-see off the beaten track spots around Ireland (PHOTOS)