The following was originally written for inclusion in Set Dancing News but the print version of the magazine was shut down before the article was printed. What follows is the original submission. Another version will soon appear on sets.ie.
Michael & Susan Harrison
The 13th annual O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat is a wrap and it was a great combination of music and dance. In addition to courses in fiddle, mandolin, harp and whistle, just to name a few, there was also a full course in Sean Nos dance for the second year in a row, taught this year by Kieran Jordan, along with set dance workshops by Susan and Michael Harrison.
The retreat opened with the Thursday night meet and greet of Texas barbecue outdoors, with dessert of smores, followed by the welcome ceili called by Susan and Michael with music by David and Daniel Mehalko and Kendall Rogers.
On Friday the full dance program began with Kieran’s Sean Nos classes which were a fun combination of steps and technique for both reels and jigs with an ever-increasing complexity over the course of the weekend. Kieran also had an informative session on Irish Dance Terminology that was well attended by both musicians and dancers. On Friday evening she had something different for us in the form of a “step swap” rather than a formal dance. Dancers of all levels were encouraged to share their favorite steps with each other and we spent a couple of hours dancing at each other and even had a brief dance-off with two groups seeing who could out-match each other with Kieran providing the steps.
There were mini concerts each day during breakfast and lunch, featuring area musicians and larger concerts each night featuring Alison Perkins, Nolan Ladewski, Grainne Hambly, Eamon O’Leary, Colin Farrell, Jimmy Keane, Mick Moloney, Kieran Jordan, Daniel Mehalko, Christian Stevens, Cillian Vallely, Kevin Crawford, Niall Vallely, Tommy O’Sullivan, Cathal Hayden, Hanz Araki, Andy Kruspe, Shay Black, Garry O’Meara, Danny Diamond and David Munnelly.
Saturday and Sunday continued with more Sean Nos and set dancing and the big ceili on Saturday night and farewell ceili Sunday afternoon.
The retreat provides ample room to relax in between classes and you’ll find people practicing their music and dance everywhere possible throughout the grounds. You’ll catch sight of several species of birds, some snakes (don’t worry, they’re shy) and depending on the weather you’ll be able to watch glider flights over the lake after lunch.
Here’s looking forward to the 2017 retreat!