This concert series beganduring the summer of 2010 with the purpose of setting the standard for the presentation of traditional Irish music in Ireland. Over the summer months, concerts were held which featured established and less well-known musicians in a radius of Galway city and beyond. Each concert features a combination of traditional Irish musicians, singers and dancers in an authentic and genuine fashion. By challenging the concept that the home of Irish music should be in a pub setting, this concert series provides and unparalleled environment and respectful platform in which traditional musicians can showcase their talents.
One of the aspects of this concert series that sets it apart from other formal traditional concerts is the element of interactive involvement by the audience; the audience and the performers are encouraged to engage with one another during the concert. For example, audience members are encouraged to participate in the experience by asking questions they may have for the performers, such as the background of their instruments, where they learned their music, and who or what influences their music. By allowing for open communication during the concerts, the barrier between the concept of ‘audience’ and ‘performer’ is challenged, therefore making each concert unique, fresh, and singularly authentic.
The interaction between the audience and the performers results in the audience learning some of the defining qualties of traditional Irish music. This includes hearing stories associated with certain tunes and tune names, as well as learning about how the living tradition is passed down from generation to generation. This natural approach gives an accurate reflection of the meaning of traditional Irish music and the process involved in the present living tradition and its connection to the past. Furthermore, it elicits the humour inherent in Irish culture and, for want of a better word, the ‘Irishness’ which is often lost in over produced shows.
The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholasis the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use as a place of worship at the heart of Galway’s life.
We invite you to come on a tour: St. Nicholas’ Church is old and big and beautiful, and sits right in the middle of the medieval centre of Galway city. It is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of mariners. There is some disagreement about when it was built, but it was certainly finished by 1320.
When the church was built Galway was a tiny, very new town, a sort of frontier settlement in the wild west. The inhabitants, however, thought a lot of themselves and had big ambitions. They built a huge church, bigger than many Irish cathedrals, and still the largest parish church in use in Ireland. During the 16th century, when the famous 14 Tribes were at the zenith of their power, the church was extended by two of the most powerful families the ffrenches and the Lynchs, each of whom built a new side aisle to the nave, resulting in an almost square interior and the unusual three-roofed profile.
There are many interesting and entertaining monuments and memorials in the church. Look out for Galway’s Jane Eyre, a virtuous and pious parishioner, who in 1760 bequeathed £300 to the corporation to give bread to 36 ‘poor objects’ for ever. What happened to the £300 is unknown. Or spare a tear for little James Kearney who played with his spinning top in the street and was run over by a horse and cart. The baptismal font is over 400 years old and the dog carved into its side still keeps an eye on Galway’s newest citizens as they are baptised. The oldest inhabitant of the church is Adam Bures, whose grave marker dates from the 13th century and is fondly known as the Crusader. High above the north aisle is perched the Lepers’ Gallery which gives access to the Belfry. The name is inaccurate – Galway Corporation firmly banned any sufferers from the disease from entering the city.
On the outside of the church one can see 2 mermaids, a dragon, an ape and a magnificent lion. High at the roof edge are a series of stone gargoyles, some of them richly carved into horses heads, a manticora, human heads and another lion.
Amongst the visitors to St Nicholas’ over the centuries the most famous is probably Christopher Columbus who prayed here during a visit to Galway in 1477. Less welcome were the Cromwellian troops who used the church as a stable for their horses after the siege of Galway in 1652. They are blamed for the headless and handless state of most of the carved figures inside the church.
The church is open all day, every day, and visitors are most welcome.
Click here to visit the church’s website
To whom it may concern,I was delighted to be invited by Cormac Ó Beaglaoich to play in St. Nicholas’ Church, Galway on 21st July 2010 as part of a series of Traditional Irish Music Concerts organised by him. It was a joy of a gig to play from a musician’s point of view. The setting in a wing of the medieval church was very atmospheric. The gig was acoustic and very well attended on the night I played. The audience was a mix of local musicians, music followers and tourists. The connection with the crowd was quite tangible and warm. I performed on uilleann pipes along with a concertina player and a sean nós singer. During my set I decided to explain the mechanics of the pipes and this was followed by a number of audience members asking questions about them – not the kind of interaction that happens in your usual gig.
I also attended several of the other gigs in the series last summer as an audience member and had the chance to enjoy the experience from the other side of the fence. Perfect attention is paid to the performers and it is right that people get the chance to hear the finest of traditional musicians and singers in such a setting. People from continental Europe in particular would be quite used to hearing music performed in old churches and it gives the music a status and respect it deserves. The music presented is “the real thing” and not dressed up for tourists in any way – like a lot of what is available in hotels and pubs around Galway and indeed the rest of the country.
I would have no hesitation in recommending the St. Nicholas’ series of Traditional Irish Music Concerts to anybody living in or visiting Galway. They deserve to be supported in any way possible.
12th January 2011
An Trian Láir