Big news, folks: all systems are go for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2022, which will take place in Mullingar July 31 to Aug. 7! It’s been a while since people have gathered for a real bit of music making on this scale and I think everyone in the traditional music world is excited for the prospect of it happening. Buckle up, it’s going to be fantastic.
Now, a real plan for a Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann means that plans have to be afoot for the various regional fleadhanna, and indeed they are! Why, the Mid-Atlantic region got together just this past weekend to make plans and I am pleased to report that the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Fleadh will take place at the Parsippany Hilton, May 6-8.
Folks can expect a weekend extravaganza full of Irish music and dance. There’ll be instrumental, singing, set dancing, and Irish language competitions for those interested in taking part. (A rake of younger people are expected!) There’ll also be sessions, céilís (featuring elite bands), and some special guests to make up for two full years of craic lost. It promises not only to be a momentous qualifier for Mullingar, but quite the time for everyone who attends.
On Saturday the 7th, the Region’s Hall of Fame banquet will take place. Honorees for 2022 include Deirdre Connolly, John Kennedy and Dennis Gallery (R.I.P.). In addition, Kathleen Biggins (of WFUV fame) will be given the Gradam Comaoine/Outstanding Contribution Award and Mary Higgins, Rose Flanagan, Breege & Sean Roarty, and Mitch Fanning will receive the region’s service awards as well, so it promises to be a special evening all around.
Everything’s coming together so quickly, it feels like a dream. And while registration hasn’t quite opened yet, it’s days away from happening. And at this point you can visit nyfleadh.com to sign up for the mailing list. This so the region can reach out the moment registration for the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Regional Fleadh goes live.
In other news: regular readers of this column know how much of a supporter I am of research into the world of Irish traditional music, which is why I think it’s important to note that Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Ward Irish Music Archives (WIMA) has just announced a new mission statement and initial slate of board members.
“The Ward Irish Music Archives (WIMA) collects, promotes, preserves, and disseminates Irish and Irish American musics in all their forms,” the new mission statement reads. “WIMA makes these cultural resources available to researchers, artists, and the general public now and into the future for the purposes of teaching, scholarship, and practice.”
A quick visit to wardirishmusicarchives.com makes their commitment as a public resource apparent. It’s “Exhibits” and Blog each include a variety interesting items. There, you can also find links to its Irish sheet music archive (irishsheetmusicarchives.com), the Dunn Family collection of early cylinder recordings (archives.irishfest.com), and the Milwaukee Irish Fest’s Scrapbook (irishfestscrapbook.com). It’s all great stuff!
The new board of directors includes some visionary and well-positioned individuals to guide the organization going forward. The officers are president John Daley, secretary Bernie McCartan, and treasurer Greg Baran; its six community directors include Tes Slominski, Danny Diamond, Scott Spencer, Aileen Dillane, William Fliss, and myself, your humble columnist, Daniel Neely; and its two non voting members are Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of CelticMKE, and Barry Stapleton, Director of WIMA. A smart bunch, indeed!
With over 60,000 objects in its collection, WIMA is the largest Irish and Irish American music archive in North America. The collections under its roof are impressive, as are its online-accessible collections. Learn more about WIMA by visiting wardirishmusicarchives.com.
Speaking of archives, the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) in Dublin, in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, commissioned and recently premiered a set of new compositions from three talented musicians to celebrate St Brigid’s Day. These new works include “Seo í isteach mo Bhrídeog,” a song from harper and sean-nós singer Síle Denvir; “St Brigid’s Jig / Port Naomh Bríd,” from Louise Mulcahy; and “St Brigid's Day / Lá 'le Bríde,” a slip jig & dance from Caitlín Nic Gabhann, and each one is fabulous.
In an effort to help circulate and facilitate the learning, the ITMA has not only posted the videos of these performances to their website, but they’ve included notation and interactive scores for the musical portions and have provided an instructional dance video from Caitlín. To engage with these new works – and to learn them – visit tinyurl.com/la-fheile-bride-2022.