Students get a taste of trad at UL summer school

Blas International Summer School marks 20 years at Irish World Academy 

Students get a taste of trad at UL summer school

Former Irish World Academy – and founder – Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin with Dónal Lunny, both of whom will perform at the Blas 20th Anniversary Gala Concert in the UCH on Sunday, June 26

ANDY Irvine, Paul Brady Martin Hayes, Zoe Conway, Donal Lunny and members of Altan – the roll call of those taking part in Blas in the Irish World Academy in UL reads like a roll call of the best in Irish music.

The Blas International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance, which welcomes students from all over the world to the Academy year in, year out, marks a milestone 20th year in 2016, firmly establishing itself as one of Ireland’s most prestigious summer schools in the process.

Blas will mark its 20th year with a number of public events, including a series of free lunchtime concerts and a public interview between Nóirín Ní Riain and Áine Hensey of Raidio na Gaeltachta, but the centrepiece is the 20th Anniversary Gala Concert at the UCH, featuring past and current Blas tutors, including Paul Brady, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Martin Hayes, Altan, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and dancer Colin Dunne.

Blas director, the renowned concertina-player​ Ernestine Healy, says the school will this year welcome between 60 and 65 students to take part in a range of activities at the school, with attendees from the USA, Argentina, South Korea, Japan, Israel and more. 

“I think, especially the international students like the idea of – Blas means taste – being able to come and not just focus on one area, they like the idea that our tutors only work with us for one or two days. They get to meet with a lot of tutors and get as much out of it as they possibly can, which is great,” she explains.

“They take part in trips and excursions and ceilis, Irish classes, which they love,” she added.

On reaching the 20th year, Ms Healy said: “In terms of summer schools, it is a milestone, because there so many now in Ireland. We are still going strong, and we still have great support from a number of bodies, both within the university itself and externally, which is great.”

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