On Thursday April 20th Susan and I headed off to Chicago for the Comhaltas Weekend held by the Murphy Roche Irish Music Club.
There are a slew of pictures and videos available in our gallery so go over there for more visual pleasure.
In an nutshell this was a fantastic weekend.
Once in the hotel we hit the registration desk (just as they were closing up shop) and eventually found ourselves downstairs where we saw a small ceili going on. There were several sets spinning round in the (name forgotten) set and since the room was bloody hot (we could feel the heat waves coming through the door into the hallway) and we didn’t know the set, we stayed in the hall and watched for a bit.
There were several small music sessions going on as well in various parts of the ground floor.
We were tired from the travelling so we headed off to sleep about midnight.
We woke up a bit early, got a small breakfast and then went for a walk near the hotel. There wasn’t too much to see except for more hotels but we did run across some pretty dandelions and wanted to go into a nearby forest but couldn’t see a good way in.
The weather was nice and the walk prepared us for our first workshop.
Set Dancing Galore
The set dancing workshops throughout the weekend were very well run by Pat Murphy of Toss the Feathers fame. It was an absolute pleasure to attend his workshops. He knows the sets by heart and is easily the best group instructor I’ve seen. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of his workshops, do not pass it up. His workshops are the best and he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met.
We danced many of the sets with some friends from Lincoln NE as well as new friends we’d never seen before and a few suprises from Ireland.
Bill Lynch was there and it was a pleasure to dance and talk with him again. If you’re a lady and dance with him be prepared to spin because we saw him spinning like a top in many of the sets. I’m sure he would slow things down if you aren’t used to that though. We were suprised that he remembered us from when we last danced with him in Lisdoonvarna six years ago.
Dick O’Connell and his wife were also there. We’d last danced with them in Ennis and it was great to talk to them and dance a set with them again.
Saturday was an extremely full day of set dancing followed by a banquet with a performance by Liz Carroll and John Doyle. They were great and at several points we couldn’t resist getting up and dancing to their music. It was wonderful.
Following the banquet we moved over to the other side of the hall for the evening ceili where we danced our feet off. Susan and I didn’t make it to the late night ceili because by the end of the night (about midnight) because our feet were hamburger after dancing all day.
We did make it down to the mixed ceili and danced a few dances there before heading up to the bar and a pint before bed.
Sunday was only a little quieter with some two-hand dances and more sets taught by Pat Murphy.
The weekend was a blast and we definitely want to attend the next Comhaltas in Atlanta next year, especially if they’ll have Pat teaching again.
More pictures and video are available in our gallery.