Concert / Lecture Series

March 19, 2016 from 1pm-4pmirishEnjoy the riches of the Emerald Isle at "A Celebration of Irish Music, Dance & Merriment" from 1 to 4 p.m. March 19 at the Fredonia Grange, 58 W. Main St.
 in Fredonia.

The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County is pleased to present this event as part of its Folk & Traditional Arts Program.

Visitors will be invited to experience Irish heritage through music and demonstrations of authentic traditional social dance by Maureen Little, Sarah Sharpe, Brendan Brown and Bridget English. Also included will be a presentation on Irish history and culture by Bridget English, branch chairperson of Comhaltas, an international organization dedicated to the preservation and proliferation of Irish culture.

The program will also include musical performances by Stephanie Benson, an accomplished Irish fiddler, and her husband, Tim Benson, a craftsman and performer on the traditional Uilleann pipes. The Bensons are master craftsmen of Uilleann pipes and are one of only a handful of pipe makers worldwide.

Kevin Conroy will present poems translated in Old Irish, Modern Irish & English, as well as a talk on Irish Language, history, and cultural traditions.

Local musician and music therapist for Hospice of Chautauqua County, Caitlin O’Reilly, will sing several Irish songs, including an Irish Blessing, for which she composed original music following a traditional style.

Ted McGraw and Brendan Brown play the “Button” box accordion, and maybe we’ll get a song or two from the gents as well.

Traditional food known for their Irish roots, including Irish soda bread, will be on available to sample.

“There are so many people in our community with Irish heritage. This event is a way for everyone to join in and learn about the rich heritage of Irish culture,” said Valerie Walawender, Folklorist and Folk Arts Program Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club.

English said that the Comhaltas organization is a way for her to get in touch with her Irish side. She called Set dancing, a centuries old form of social dancing.

“It’s the same kind of music used in step dancing, which is a competition step, but a lot easier to do, and a lot more fun. There’s no real competition. It’s just for enjoyment,” she said.

O’Reilly commented, “There’s something very poignant about Irish music that seems to touch the soul. The session music is toe-tapping music. You can go from this lament to these high-spirited jigs and reels. That corresponds with my experience of Irish people. This depth of emotion that stays beneath the surface … the music is the heart and soul of where the Irish people live.”

Irish musical instruments, artifacts, and photographs will be on display. The community is invited to bring photos and artifacts of their Irish heritage to be shared at the event. If you would like to bring photos or artifacts of your Irish or Irish American family, contact Program coordinator, Valerie Walawender cell: 680-0266 or email:[email protected] or contact the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County at 366-1061.

Admission is free. The program is open to all. This event is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Also supporting this program are the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, 96KIX FM, WDOE 1410, OBSERVER, and Tops Friendly Markets.