Friends of Irish Studies in the West

Ceolchoirm na Nollag – Christmas Concert Success

The Friends sponsored another very successful Christmas concert this year, but it was one with a special twist that brought the Irish of Montana and Ireland together to give us a top class show. Bringing the Irish of America and Ireland together ignites a creative spark and energy that would lift you off you seat. Many of those in attendance remarked that is was the best performance they had ever attended and it has proved inspirational for all those young artists who wish to continue celebrating Irish culture in Montana. The Friends is committed to building closer ties to Ireland and to giving the younger generation every opportunity to collaborate with artists from Ireland. We have, therefore, resolved to sponsor a series of concerts again this spring, the details of which are below. Before we leave the subject of the Christmas show, we would like to thank all the performers for their hard work and our sponsors who worked with us to make it such a success: LMG Security; Ireland Tile and Marble; The Ancient Order of Hibernians; and the Fulbright commission. Míle buíochas dhíbh uile.
(pic Montana Christmas)
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An Crannchur – The Raffle
The raffle is our biggest fundraiser and will provide us with the means to support the Irish dance, music, language and history programs over the next two years. We need your help to make it a success. If every member committed to selling just two books of tickets to family, friends and colleagues, we would be in a very healthy position to provide this support. If you feel you can commit to selling some books, please contact us at friendsofirishstudies@gmail.com and we will get them to you. Thank you all so much for helping with this.
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An Bhallraíocht – The Membership
We continue to grow the Friends Irish family and now have over 400 members. If you are not already a member, please consider joining and helping us build a bigger and stronger organization. You receive all kinds of benefits from membership. We would encourage you also to invite others to become a part of our great community.
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An Turas go hÉirinn – The Trip to Ireland
All arrangements are in place for our tour of Ireland this coming summer. The tour will run from June 20 to June 29, and we plan to keep the numbers to 20 travelers. This will enable people to get to know and build friendships with one another. This has always been one of the great outcomes of the tour to Ireland. If you are interested in joining us, please go to www.friendsofirishstudies.com for a detailed itinerary and sign-up form.
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Rince na nGael – Irish Dance
The Missoula Irish Dancers held their annual Christmas Recital on December 20th at the Hellgate Highschool Auditorium and what a success it was. Nearly 50 dancers of all ages participated before a packed house. It was truly uplifting to see these young dancers take the stage to entertain parents, grandparents and members of the public. And it is because of the active role that parents and grandparents take in Irish dance that our dancers can produce such a successful recital. We thank them for their support and wish them and our young dancers every success in 2015.
Missoula Irish Dancers will resume classes again on Monday, January 12. If anybody is interested in learning Irish dance, go to their website, www.missoulairishdancers.com or email the school at missoulairishdancers@gmail.com. The Irish Studies program at the University of Montana also offers beginners classes in Irish dance sponsored by the Friends of Irish Studies. If you are interested in doing an accredited course, the course number is DANC 160A.01. For more information, contact the instructor, Sarah Donnelly, at sarah.donnelly@umontana.edu
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Ceol Gaelach an Earraigh – Springtime of Irish Music
The Friends are delighted to announce that they will once again sponsor a course in Irish music this spring. This course will give students and the community the opportunity to learn from the custodians of the Irish tradition, guest performers from Ireland who will address the class, provide workshops and give concerts in Missoula and Butte. Students will also learn to play the tin whistle and in this way come to learn the fundaments of Irish music. There are a total of four guests coming in February and March. Tickets are $45 for a season ticket; $15 general admission; and $10 for members of the Friends and students.
The decision to offer the course came in the wake of the Irish Christmas concert and the numerous requests from both the performers and audience for further exposure to the music. The lineup of performers is given below. The music course was not part of our plan for 2015 so it imposes additional costs on us. Because the performers are coming from Ireland, the costs are very high, running about $25,000. We appeal again to your generosity to help us offset these costs. Donations, however small, will be greatly appreciated. You can donate online or send your donation to The Friends of Irish Studies, PO Box 4693, Missoula, MT 59806.
Ár nEalaíontóirí – Our Artists
Danny O’Mahony – http://www.dannyomahony.com/

The opening performer of the series ‘A Springtime of Irish Music and Song’ will be button accordion player, Danny O’ Mahony. Danny is a traditional musician from Ballyduff in North County Kerry. He grew up playing music with the older generation of musicians in his locality. Danny’s musical style is expressive and deeply personal, and reflects his affinity with the music of past masters. Danny’s performance abilities have been acknowledged through winning Junior & Senior All-Ireland titles and graduating from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Performance.
Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin – http://www.skippersalley.ie/

The second concert of the series ‘A Springtime of Irish Music and Song’ will feature singer and musician, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin. Eoghan is a sean-nós singer, flute and concertina player from Dublin. He comes from a musical family and performs regularly with his father, Peadar, and his two sisters, Saileog and Muireann. He is a member of the Dublin band Skipper’s Alley, winners of the Trophée Loic Raison at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 2013. Eoghan performed on Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Heggin’s debut album Sheear, which as released in February 2014.
James Kelly – http://jameskellymusic.com/

The third concert of the series will be performed by fiddler, James Kelly. James, a native of Ireland, is one of the greatest Irish traditional fiddlers alive today. He learned his music from his father John Kelly, the renowned fiddle and concertina player from County Clare, and began his recording and touring career at age sixteen. He has toured Europe, the US, Canada, and South America, was member of several influential Irish groups, including “Patrick Street” and the legendary folk group “Planxty,” and became one of the best-loved fiddlers of his generation. He has 18 albums to his credit and recently released his latest recording, “Melodic Journeys.”.

Liam O Maonlai – http://www.liamomaonlai.ie/

The fourth and final concert will feature singer and musician, Liam Ó Maonlaí. Ó Maonlaí was raised in a traditional Irish-speaking home heavily influenced by the music and song tradition of west Kerry. He grew to become a master pianist and also excelled on guitar, tin whistle, harp and bodhrán. He was a founder member and lead vocalist for the one of Ireland’s most successful rock bands, The Hothouse Flowers, which released seven successful albums. His voice is such that Bono of U2 has described him as “the best white boy soul singer in the world.” In fact, it is the traditional song and the sean-nós style in particular that has always given expression to his soul and remains his greatest love.

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