From Clare to Canberra: The Jack Canny Story Part 2-About Jack

Jack Canny would have been just over 3 years of age when the Easter Rising of 1916 took place in Dublin a hundred years ago, miles and worlds away from his home in the small townland of Glendree, two miles West of Feakle, Parish of Tulla in County Clare.

Maghera Mountain 1

Maghera Mountain, close to Jack’s home in Co.Clare, where Jack’s friend fell down a peat hole one foggy night coming home in the dark from dancing.                                     Image: http://www.ClareBirdWatching.com

The eldest of three sons of Patrick Canny and Catherine MacNamara, Jack was active,  and lively – “happy as a sand boy”, as he recounted, and was a natural sportsman including regular games of hurling, and later, cycling.

And, of course, there was music. His father, Pat Canny, was a noted local whistle and fiddle player “It was their main hobby when their day’s work was done in the farms. We had no radios or televisions at that time. We had to make our own enjoyment and our main enjoyment was music.”

“My Dad played, he was a great inspiration to all of us. He used often take down the fiddle on the long winter evenings and he’d play there for half an hour, just to keep on practising. He used to do that once a week…sometimes once a fortnight.”

Mark Tandy with Jack Canny

Jack Canny and Mark Tandy. Image: M.Tandy

Continue reading

Advertisements

From Clare to Canberra: The Jack Canny Story Part 1-Threads

I used to think that a 100 years was a long time – ancient history. Now that I have just passed my own half century, I see it differently – close, not that far away, with threads that weave my own history into that time.

There is a reverberation, an echo from down the years, a depth of influence that County Clare has had, and is still having on, Canberra Irish musicians and dancers, like myself.

I was first alerted to this connection in 2004, when my husband Martin and I stepped into a King O’Malleys pub music session in Canberra on a Sunday night, for the first time. We looked at each other in surprise “Sounds just like the Tulla” we said, almost in unison. It was like an instant trip back to Clare – eerie and beautiful.

Music session at King O'Malleys, Canberra

Pete Hobson, Sue Hobson and Mark Tandy at King O’Malleys session. Photo: N.Stewart

Continue reading

Your Top 5 Céilí Bands for 2016

The Dartry Céilí Band from Ireland got the most votes this year in our popular poll, closely chased by bands from the USA and the UK – see full results in the table below.

A fantastic response from all over the world with just over 4,000 votes and 175 bands listed. I thank everyone who took the time to vote.

Special mention goes to a very late entrant, the Tanzanian Céil Band – I suspect this  might be our most exotic entry to date. They are raising funds for the Tanzanian Children’s Project and the band’s slogan is:

Traditional Irish Music for A Better World

My sentiments exactly. Congratulations to all the ceili bands for your dedication and all the enjoyment you bring, no matter how many votes you got-more power to you all.

Happy St.Patrick’s Day and enjoy the music and dance wherever you are in the world.

Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR REGULAR NEWSLETTER

RESULTS TABLE BELOW

Continue reading

Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands 2016

It’s on again – the battle of the Irish céilí bands to get a place in the top 5 for 2016. We had a brilliant response last year and looking forward to supporting our old favourites and the newer bands within the ever-expanding stable of wonderful Irish dance musicians.

We dancers are so lucky to have so many talented and energetic musicians to play for us  and giving support  and a vote to our favourite bands is like the least we can do, although you can vote whether you dance or not. You just have to love the music!

Continue reading

Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands 2015

What an amazing response we had to this poll – the amount of interest far exceeded my wildest reckoning.

10,030 votes from 40 countries far and wide, with 128 bands on the list which  expanded over the poll week to include 171 bands, suggested by you.

I’m not sure if this is the first poll of Irish céilí bands, but the purpose of holding a popular vote was to try increase the level of interest in Irish dance music.  I can see that it doesn’t need a huge amount of help but I hope it has added something extra. I’d love to see the day where every country in the world has at least one céilí band.

Continue reading

Green Beer and Wigs Are Not Irish

After my blog post last year, I promised myself that I was going to be as positive as possible leading up to this St.Patrick’s Day but I find myself increasingly dismayed at the lack of thoughtful, intelligent or genuine opportunities to celebrate the best of Irish on this day of days.

Some weeks ago, I received a phone call from a local establishment enquiring if we were interested in “bringing some of our girls to dance on St.Patrick’s Day”. I patiently explained that we are a group of mature adults, not kids and we don’t get dressed up or wear wigs and also that our styles of dance- Irish set dancing & Irish sean nós dancing – were a bit different to the Riverdance style. To his credit, he listened to what I had to say and was open to the idea of our group dancing.

Continue reading

Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands

Great music is the partner to great dancing, and to celebrate the vibrant music we lucky dancers and music fans have available, I thought it was time have a poll to find out what you think.

Putting this list of 157 céilí bands* together has been a real eye-opener, with your suggestion to include bands from as far back at the 1950’s, some I’ve never heard of but have won All-Ireland places in the Fleadh Cheoil  over the years or come from the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and yes, even Australia!

Continue reading

Irish Music: Bet You Can’t Sit Still

FREEDOM is the feeling that Irish music creates for me, and sometimes the trappings of too much information and detail about dance and music can strangle that sense of liberation.

So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite music dance tracks with you with the minimum amount of fuss.

Continue reading

Irish dance music: It’s child’s play

Great music is tSeamus_Begleyhe lifeblood of dancing and fortunately, Ireland has it in abundance. One of Ireland’s most beloved musicians and singers, Séamus Begley reveals more (hear audio link below) about the unbreakable bond between Irish music & dance when being interviewed by Joan Armatrading for the BBC.

As he says, his experience of playing music on his accordion was only for dancing and when there was no dancing, he was told to “put it away”.

So, how do you tell a jig from a reel? Or a polka from a slide?

As with most things Irish, it’s complicated. The intricacies of music mathematics can be a difficult thing to get your head around: even the best musicians seem to struggle to explain how it works mostly because there are style differences in the playing, in some cases. In addition, some of the names sound like musical timings – eg, “treble jig” and  “light jig”, but are actually names of a dance rather than a specific musical timing. So, thinking about all this too much will not help your understanding.

Happily, one of the best ways of learning this difference is by moving or by singing/ humming to each different signature timing, and this also goes for musicians who are learning to play Irish music. And why not try to remember each different type – hornpipes, reels, jigs, waltzes, polkas, slides– by what we did when we were kids?

By having fun – playing, clapping and singing to nursery rhymes, and using pictures and word games to remember the basics.

Continue reading

Irish sean nós : Rich and deep

Sean nós  (say shan-nose) means old style in Irish, and I have often wondered just how old old really is. The very first time I remember seeing Irish sean nós dancing was in  early 1989 at my very first Irish set dancing weekend in Donegal Town, Co.Donegal. The snow was all aflutter outside the big windows of the hotel ballroom and three auld fellas shuffled along, “doing a bit of shtep” during the céilí -that’s how I recall it. It was relaxed, simple, very rhythmic and obviously, memorable.

Picking up the thread from my last post  Irish dance history: A contrary tale: Part 2 , I have been exploring more about the potential roots of Irish sean nós heritage, which it seems, may possibly originate from North Africa.  Bob Quinn, in his 1981 documentary series The Atlanteans, illustrateEurope map with travel route of Berberss his theory that  dwellers on the West Coast of Ireland, particularly in Connemara,  are not Celts but what he terms “Atlanteans”. They are ancient descendants of sea-faring people from Algeria and Morocco- the Berbers – who travelled all along the Atlantic coastline – West along Spain, Portugal, Basque country, Brittany in France and then North -West to Ireland – settled in parts and continued using the sea as a big super highway, that was much safer than travelling across land.

I found the evidence presented in the documentary compelling and curious,  with potential multiple connections between ancient Irish and Berber civilisations starting with traditional singing, dancing & music, musical instruments including the Irish drum bodhrán which has a double in the Berber bandir, sailing boats – Galway Hookers with púcán sails & Felucca with lateen sails,  stone circles, standing stones and carvings in similar contexts in both countries, art and fine jewellery pieces thought to be Celtic have an eery resonance in the Berber style, and on it goes. Have a look here for picture examples.

Continue reading