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This year’s Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair, to be launched by the great Danny Meehan, will run from Sunday 27 December to Friday 1 January 2016 in the spectacular setting of the parish of Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal.

Bígí linn!

Following last year’s inaugural Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair (taking up from where the Frankie Kennedy Winter School left off), the emphasis this year for the School is on the quality of the workshops.

That quality starts with the tutors, and is reflected in the impressive line-up of leading musicians running the workshops this year:
Harry Bradley, Barry Kerr, Anna Friel, Maureen McGrattan, Bríd Harper, Martin McGinley, Cathal Hayden, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Claire Friel, Gay McKeon, Síle Friel, Conor Day, Séamus O’Kane, Máire Ní Choilm, Máirtín O’Connor, Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Conor Caldwell, Séamie O’Dowd, Edwina Guckian. (There’s also an arts and crafts class and an Irish language class.)

Speaking on behalf of the Scoil Geimhridh organisers, Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair, Cathal Ó Gallchóir said, “We are delighted to have all those great musicians and experienced tutors leading the classes, and because it’s so rare, we are particularly pleased to have Máirtín [O’Connor] among them. We know from feedback that this is key to a successful week for our pupils. The fact that these musicians give up such a special time of year proves what a special experience it is for everyone.”

The very special and intimate character of this school comes from both the celebrated hospitality of the local people and from the concerted effort made by the organisers to take care of guests. This comes across loud and clear in the comments from some of last year’s pupils, who identified things like the “good ambience in the classes”, the “warm welcome from everyone”, and the “good mood … information … [and] kindness of all the organisers”. It was all summed up in Irish by another student as follows: “Eagraithe go maith. Bia galánta. Foirgnimh ar dóigh – te, lárnach, uile in aon ionad amháin. Réimse mhaith ranganna & coirmeacha. Maith Sibh!”

And when all the learning and eating is done, there is a concert programme that would be the envy of any city venue at the height of the festival season, including Téada with Seamus Begley for the all-important New Year’s Eve concert; the trio featuring Dermot Byrne, Steve Cooney and Trevor Hutchinson who have been on a successful nationwide tour for the last few months; the Máirtín O’Connor trio; and Buttons and Bows (Jackie Daly, the McGuire brothers and Garry O’Briain), to name just a few of the nearly fifteen or so events taking place.

Of special note is the An Crann Óg event on the Thursday, a concert which showcases many of the younger musicians from Gaoth Dobhair and beyond who frequent the festival annually. “It brings the whole thing full circle to see the younger generation performing on the same stage,” observed Ó Gallchóir.

Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair is organised by Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair. for more details go to http://crannog.ie/fuinn/