Sunday, 12 June 2016

Club Gaeilge: crowdfunding agus ceol

English language version below.

Feachtas Fundit & Ceol agus Cómhrá Gach Déardaoin sa Spidéal

Tá feachtas Fundit ar bun ag Club Foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge an Spidéil chun airgead a bhailiú ar mhaithe leis an nGaeilge a chur chun cinn i nGaeltacht Chonamara. Leis an airgead a bhaileofar, tá sé d'aidhm ag an gClub Foghlaimeoirí áiseanna a chur ar fáil d'fhonn cúnamh a thabhairt do dhaoine an teanga a mháistriú go nádúrtha tré chluichí a imirt agus comhrá, amhránaíocht, scéalaíocht, filíocht agus ceol a fhoghlaim. Saorchead isteach ar gach imeacht.

Is iad na himeachtaí atá ar bun cheana ná Comhrá Simplí le Meaití Jó Shéamuis gach Máirt sa Chrúiscín Lán 11 am–1 p.m., agus Scéalaíocht agus Filíocht le Máirín Mhic Lochlainn gach Céadaoin 7–9 p.m., Tigh Giblin.

Feachtas Fundit:

Ceol agus Cómhrá gach Déardaoin

Aithe sa Spidéal agus bíonn sé ar siúl gach Déardaoin óna naoi a chlog ar aghaidh. Tá fáilte roimh dhaoine atá líofa agus roimh fhoghlaimeoirí ag gach leibhéal, fiú muna bhfuil acu go fóill ach ach cúpla focal Fáilte roimh cheoltóirí chomh maith!

The Spiddal Irish Language Learners Club, or Club Gaeilge, has launched a Fundit campaign to collect donations to promote the use of the Irish language in the Connemara Gaeltacht.

Many people who have come to live in the area are not fluent and they can find it difficult to access the language socially because of time constraints and financial difficulties. The club has been set up by local musicians to provide opportunities for learners to speak Irish socially with native speakers and develop the language naturally through games, storytelling, songs, poetry, music and conversation. All events are free to attend.

Current events include a Simple Conversation morning 11a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesdays with Meaití Jó Shéamuis in the Crúiscín Lán, and Stories and Poetry Wednesday evenings 7–9 p.m. with Máirín Mhic Lochlainn in Tigh Giblin.

Fundit Campaign:

Music and Conversation every Thursday

A new Music and Conversation night has recently been launched and takes place every Thursday from 9 p.m. with Meaití Jó Shéamuis and Nóra Geraghty. Learners of every level, even those with just a cúpla focal, and fluent speakers are welcome to attend. Musicians are also welcome!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Club Gaeilge crowdfunding appeal

Spiddal Irish Language Learners' Club appeals for support to promote the social use of Irish among settlers in the Gaeltacht

Spiddal's Club Gaeilge has launched its first crowdfunding appeal. This type of fundraising is new to all of us, so we hope you will bear with us as we work through the kinks. We have set a reasonably modest target at €2,000, which, along with other contributions, is enough to run the club for around three months.

The story so far...

Local musician Nóra Geraghty, on moving to the Gaeltacht, found there were obstacles to acquiring the language which are rarely encountered when learning foreign languages. The growing prevalence of English as the lingua franca in Gaeltacht areas means that in between weekly classes learners can have few opportunities to practice their Irish. Recent research strongly suggests that the Irish language is in danger of dying out if something is not done to encourage the daily use of the language among both learners and native speakers.

Although there was strong support among locals and learners for the idea of a club to address these issues, in the atmosphere of austerity there was no funding available, so after a year and a half, Nóra and Meaití Jó Shéamuis decided to gather a group of supporters and start the club and fundraise on the way along.

The club has been running since the end of March offering conversation groups, story telling, poetry and music, with growing attendance at our weekly meetings and cultural evenings. Currently the club is running three weekly events and more projects and one-off events are planned, including a local phrase book, a campaign aimed at encouraging locals to speak Irish to strangers, singing and drama workshops and a Christmas concert.

Feedback forms will shortly be in circulation at club events (see: ) and we welcome all suggestions and comments. Unlike formal classes, Club Gaeilge events promote the social use of the Irish language, so if we hope to be as useful as possible we need to know what sort of social events people would enjoy.

Still seeking support of all kinds

We hope this crowdfunding campaign will put us in the black - we've been in debt since we started - but even with financial security we need all the support we can get. We need books, games, CDs and other materials for our library, and we need support from native and fluent speakers too. We need help spreading the word and making new comers feel welcome.

The aim of the project is not just to help learners acquire the language, but to help native speakers understand what they can do to help, and this begins with dialogue between speakers of all levels. It is our hope and wish to provide pleasant and enjoyable settings for these dialogues to take place.

We appreciate your support!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Anois teacht an Earraigh - and a Happy St Patrick's Day to all our friends!

"Anois teacht an Earraigh..."

Paddy's Day marks the coming of Spring for musicians and the Spiddal parade promises to be a treat with a session afterwards in An Droighneán Donn led by Steve Sweeney and friends.

Steve Sweeney, Tom McLoughlin and Johnny Connolly

The Crúiscín Lán hotel has opened after the winter break and soon the sweet sounds of sessions will fill the evening air from every pub as some of our regular visitors return and some new ones find their way into our company. We'll be updating our website as the regular sessions get started so keep an eye on Spiddal Sessions for the latest updates.


Club Foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge An Spidéil


For those interested in learning Irish there is a new club starting on the 22nd March. Club Foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge An Spidéil has been started to assist those moving in to the area to acquire the language naturally in social settings, through games, songs, music, poetry and storytelling. We will be starting out with a 10-week crash-course in conversational Irish for total beginners, with Meaití Jó Shéamuis, on Tuesday mornings in An Crúiscín lán from 11am-1pm and a Wednesday evening poetry and story telling group, with Máirín Mhic Lochlainn, in Tigh Giblin from 7-9pm.

We will be adding other regular groups and one-off events as and when we can, but as usual we are flying by the seat of our pants and we need all the assistance, financial and otherwise, that we can get. If anyone has even €5 to spare, there is a "donate" button at the top of our website and all donations of any amount are gratefully received. Anyone feeling very generous take note that a donation of over €300 will get you a free dinner for two at Tigh Giblin's.


Seisiúin Foghlaimeora An Spidéal

Learners old and new - All welcome!

The learner session continues every Friday in the cafe through An Nead, from 8-10pm and we have been getting a good attendance throughout the winter and this past couple of months we had our first total beginners and we're delighted to report they are making good progress, with the music and the language. Musicians of all levels are welcome at this session, we play simple tunes to start and then towards then end we'll ramp it up a bit for those who want more of a challenge and we always have a lot of fun, sometimes even cake! 

You can find more information and photos on our Facebook page Seisiúin Foghlaimeora An Spidéal

See you all in the coming months!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Great Gathering Up!

The annual November Spiddal Gathering is nearly upon us...

The Annual Spiddal Gathering us almost upon us and once more we anticipate the sweet sounds of the playing of tunes infiltrating the chilly winter Spiddal air and insinuating their way into the ears of unwary passers by, causing foot tapping, singing and even dancing to spontaneously break out at random.

The Spiddal Gathering is currently in its seventh year and in honour of the occasion we at Spiddal Sessions interviewed Tom Giblin and Maria O'Hare in their historic and musically significant home, Lord Killanin's Gate Lodge, one time home to Dé Danann and the scene of many an impromptu session over the years.

From the baptismal flooding of the first year to the ever increasing number of barrels of later festivals, Tom and Maria take us through some of the highlights of the yarns that have emerged from the Gathering over the years.

We have included, for your entertainment and enlightenment, some photos of previous years and some clips of rare film footage of certain musicians, well known locally, playing in the Gate Lodge at various times.

We hope to gather more information at the Gathering itself (20-22 November 2015) from willing participants and eventually to amass enough material to produce a major Hollywood movie, with George Clooney and Meryl Streep playing Tom and Maria for Spiddal Gathering: The Movie, or, failing that, to create an interesting archive for the wonderment of future generations.

We hope you enjoy our first attempt at manipulating film for our purposes and we hope to bring you more of the same in the future.

The history of the Spiddal Gathering on YouTube

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Helpful tips for learners: Some tentative notes on session etiquette...

...tentative because several encyclopedias could probably be filled with the thoughts musicians have expressed on this topic over the years, throughout the country and the world at large. However, in the spirit of helpfulness and encouragement towards those just starting to join in sessions, here are a few broad principles most people are agreed on. This is only intended as a light-hearted general guide to inserting yourself into sessions for the first time without feeling like an elephant in the room. It is most definitely NOT a “rule book” for sessions and the best way to get to know the figaries of a particular session is always going to be to visit it frequently.

Note: this helpful narrative is aimed at those who already have a good store of tunes and feel ready to join in a session. Beginners or those who can play well but lack enough tunes to play in a session can check out the “resources for learners” section of our website

Comments are welcome!

The best place to learn about playing in sessions is in the Seisiún Foghlaimeora!

Always ask first – it's just polite! Even if the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming, it is polite to ask before joining a session. It gives the musicians a chance to say hello and give you any information you might need, such as whether tonight they are exclusively playing 16th Century dance tunes or whether they are partial to playing in E♭ .

Follow the leader – even in the most chaotic of sessions the discerning observer will notice there are one or two musicians directing the music and these are the ones to watch for cues for when the tune is changing or ending. Often they will ask someone to start a tune and then that person is leading the set and should be watched for subtle eye movements or the sudden shouting out of keys or names of tunes.

Listen carefully – you might think you know a tune, but it might be a different tune or a different version than the one you learned. Also there are many regional variations to the way tunes are played; tunes can be played “single” or “double” (each part played once or twice) and some tunes have different parts or are played in different keys. Tunes will be played at different tempos and with different emphasis, sometimes twice, sometimes three times or even more if the tune is going well! Listening is always important, but never more so than when you are first becoming aquainted with a particular session and the local style of playing.

If you don't know the tune, don't play it – at least at first. All sessions are different in the level of tolerance to people tootling and scraping along with tunes they half know or don't know at all. Obviously a learner session is the ideal place for this, as long as you are not knowing the same tune everyone else is learning. It's true that the session is the best place to pick up new tunes, but you need to be fairly confident of your abilty to pick up the tune fast! Keep an eye on the other musicians for cues about this, as well as all other matters, but don't assume that if there's one person sitting in the corner who doesn't appear to know the tunes but is merrily playing along anyway, that means it's OK for you to do the same.

Spiddal Sessions hosts a learner session all year 'round at 8pm Fridays in the cafe through An Nead, Main Street, Spiddal. The session is open to all levels and is an informal weekly gathering of learners, facilitated by professional musicians. The “Seisiún Foghlaimeora An Spidéil” is an open group and the tunes and pace of learning are dictated by the learners themselves and this is an excellent place to get used to playing with others.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Spiddal musicians spotted in BBC documentary

Local musicians have been filmed lingering on the edges of the Roman Empire!

The musicians in question, Steve Sweeney, Meaití Jó Shéamuis, Nóra Geraghty and Sandra Johnson, known locally for playing tunes in Spiddal pubs and at musical events throughout the known universe, are now world-famous in the UK, where the documentary was aired.

Meaití Jó Shéamuis: Last bastion of the resistance against the Roman Empire
the People's Front of Spiddal!

The episode in question is the third in a series of three documentaries entitled: The Celts: Blood, Iron And Sacrifice, with Alice Roberts And Neil Oliver. The intrepid documentarians find themselves on the edge of the Roman Empire at the very end of the last documentary in the series, where they conclude that whatever the Romans may or may not have done for us, they didn’t, apparently, invade us. Instead they left us free to carry on the traditions and way of life of the Celtic peoples.

They caught us on a fine day during the Annual Traid Phicnic in July and filmed us extensively as we engaged in our traditional ceremonial playing of tunes in the outdoors. They also caught Steve Sweeney down at the Sean Ceibh, speaking in his traditional language with others who also remained visibly unravaged, unmoved and unconcerned by the forces of Rome.

Steve Sweeney: "We were all set to throw lit turf at the Romans when they came, but they were nice really. They just wanted to play a few tunes and they didn't try to conquer anybody."

The appearance of Spiddal’s troubadors is brief, but nonetheless has already been spreading ripples which will lap the shores of all the lands where Celtic peoples congregate. If any of you Celtic peoples out there would care to join us for a tune, we’d be delighted to welcome you to our spot perched precariously on the Altantic shelf. Too windy and wet for the Roman’s I’d say!

The Traid Phicnic event takes place in Spiddal every July. Keep watching this blog for more information about that and other fascinating topics! Traid Phicnic on Facebook

Friday, 16 October 2015

One fine summer Sunday in Spiddal...

By Frances Love

Frances and Ian enjoy the music at An Droighneán Donn, Spiddal

One fine summer Sunday in mid July 2012, We caught the last bus from Galway to An Ceathrú Rúa. As the bus arrived in Spiddal, Brett Mooney, travelling with us, urged us to get off. We were most unwilling at first because our landlord was expecting us. After assurances from Brett that it would be of no concern to the landlord what time we arrived and we could share a taxi later, we reluctantly got off the bus.

As we walked into An Tobar, as it was at the time, Brett was greeted heartily, as Gaeilge, by local men and the lovely blonde violinist. For the next three hours we enjoyed wonderful music and Guinness, and thought “Gosh isn't Spiddal fun?”.

After the session we took a cab to An Ceathrú Rúa and spent the next fortnight at the language school. When the classes finished we were advised that Irish was spoken widely in Spiddal and there were four pubs, most of which had music. So we booked into the Ard Eoinin for a couple of days and stayed eight weeks.

We went to Tigh Hughes Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We wouldn't miss the Sunday Session at An Tobar, and sometimes, the Néad and the Crúiscín Lán gave us bonus music nights. Tigh Hughes closed and Tigh Giblin opened and nowadays there is music every night at Tigh Giblin and we are totally spoiled for choice.

What a lovely way to spend the Australian winter and Irish summer.

Ian and Frances 

Frances and Ian with local reprobate Jimmy Conlon

Frances and her partner, Ian, are Australian retirees who spend every summer in Spiddal learning Irish, playing bodhráns and generally becoming more Irish than the Irish. Ian has now taken up the feadóg and we are expecting great things from him when they return next year!