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The pipes are calling in the Catskills

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Fiddler Willie Kelly
The crisp autumn air and multi-colored hills of the Catskills will once again lure a dedicated corps of American and Canadian uilleann pipers to East Durham this coming weekend for the annual gathering known as the Northeast Tionol which has taken place since 2004.

While this is an intensive weekend of instruction for pipers (and fiddlers who are catered for as well) for the most part, there is a very enjoyable social and educational component that any fan of traditional Irish music can revel in on the Gavin’s Golden Hill Resort where it takes place from Friday, October 20 to Monday the 23rd.

Invited to teach the uilleann pipes for the weekend are four native-born Irishmen with two of them residing in the United States for a number of years, and the other two traveling over from Ireland specifically for the weekend. 

Coming from Na Piobairi Uilleann in Dublin, the headquarters for uilleann pipers worldwide is Nollaig MacCarthaigh, one of its senior members and teachers in the august Henrietta Street establishment keeping the Irish pipes on a high note.  Also from Dublin originally is Tom Creegan, now settled in Seattle on the West Coast. 

A younger piper, Fiachra O’Regan, hails from Connemara where he recently returned after a sojourn in Canada.  Michael Cooney from Tipperary living in nearby Lake Placid is a regular around East Durham, especially when the pipers muster. He will be joined by Yanks Jerry O’Sullivan and Seth Gallagher to round out the piping tutor staff.

The classes have been broken down into specialties like session tunes, the music of Paddy O’Brien, Leo Rowsome, Sliabh Luachra, Piper O’Farrell, slow airs and Gaelic Songs and special workshops on regulators and reed-making which is so important for any uilleann piper to keep his or her instrument in tune.

Several years ago, tutelage on fiddle was added to the weekends to allow for more varied sessions and approaches in the centerpiece event, the Saturday evening concert.  

Teaching this year are fiddlers Willie Kelly from New Jersey, who specializes in the Clare and Galway style of fiddling, and also Oisin MacDiarmada visiting from Sligo, known as the leader of the trad band Teada and for teaching many workshops at weekend festivals and summer schools.

MacDiarmada will offer a class on the influence of the music of the legendary Peter Horan from Sligo who passed away last year while Kelly will hone in on the music of East Clare.

A special bonus offering this year is a visit from Michael Tubridy, a native of Kilrush, Co. Clare who plays the flute and concertina as well as a bit of sean nos dancing who will offer a Sunday afternoon flute master class at Gavin’s resort.

Gavin’s Resort is sold out for bedrooms at this juncture (you could always check for a cancellation) but you may be able to purchase a meal plan if you plan on staying around for the weekend and want to socialize with the piping fraternity. 

There are rooms available at the Shamrock House, Michael Dees, the Blackthorne and Rose Motel resorts.  The highlight is the Saturday evening concert from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. featuring the teaching staff which is definitely open to the public at the pub at Gavin’s.

For more information visit click here. You can support the wonderful work of this tionol by purchasing clothing items from them as well.

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