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The cosy and intimate Cobblestone pub and music venue in Dublin’s Smithfield hosted a night of traditional Irish music performed by the first year musicians taking part in BCFE’s Ceoltoir course. This night was a real treat for fans in music in general and a great advertisement of what the Ceoltoir course has to offer.

Doors opened at half eight and the tiny venue filled up rather quickly. Mr John Fagan and I (Fionn Walsh) took our place among the eager crowd and awaited the evening’s entertainment. This was the perfect night for grabbing a pint of the black stuff, foot stomping and random yelping. Mr Fagan – who originally planned on having a subdued and alcohol free evening – found this temptation too hard to resist and after some coaxing he joined me on the black stuff.

The night was organised by the Ceoltoirs second year students and before the night kicked off we took the time to have a brief chat with them about the evening and what we can expect.

“The night is part of an assignment. We formed groups of four people and we basically had to find a venue, get the acts, make the posters, do the sound checks and just make sure the night runs smoothly,” said Italian Alessandro Carlone who is currently in the second year of the course and organised the night with fellow students Aishling Roberts, Ann Marie O’Connor and Philip King (Is that right?).

“It is a change to get the first year students out playing and for us to be involved with what goes on behind the scenes,” he added.

The six acts performed to a packed and rapturous cobblestone. The slightest sniff of a jig causing even the most withdrawn and introverted person to start tapping their feet to the rhythm like a possessed maniac.

From the first act we knew we were in for a great night. A group consisting of fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and flute hit the stage performing a number of infectious trad tunes such as ‘Morning Star Reel’ and the ‘Connaught Mans Rambles’. John leaving me to guard his precious pint took the time to have chat with some members of the group.

After a brief interval two lads named Noel and Dave with the collective age of 121 took to the stage. Their banter and performance, which was tinged with humour, had to crowd eating out of their hands. The lads both sang and shared the duties of mandolin and guitar. Numbers such as ‘Lord Baker’ and Christ Moore’s ‘Johnny Jump Up’ got a great response from the audience. This was of particular relief to Dave who was performing in front of an audience for the first time in his life.

This was also Noel Ryan’s first gig in decades after spending many years travelling and raising his family. Noel, who can be seen around the college in his trademark cardigan and paddy cap, decided to study traditional Irish music after being made unemployed.

“I heard about the course from a few people. It sounded like my sort of thing so I applied for the interview. I went up, played a sad Christy Moore song at the interview and here I am,” said Noel.

He also had a lot of praise for the organisers and his fellow classmates.

“They’re a great group and fair play to everyone who organised tonight. Everyone in the class is brilliant and I can’t say enough good things about them,” he said looking at his watch and realising that it was close to closing time.

Many former students of the ceoltoir course have gone on to do great things such as flute and whistles player Alan Doherty who has performed with the traditional group Gráda and accordion player David Munnelly who has travelled the world performing with his group the Munnelly Band. The musicians performing on the night really illustrated the quality and class that this course can produce over a short period of time and all evidence suggests that these musicians can go on to do great things.

A few more gigs are planned towards the end of the college year including one big end of year one in either Whelan’s or the Grand Social. Messrs Fagan and Walsh will definitely be in attendance and watch this space for further updates.

Written by: Fionn Walsh

Proofed by: Dara O’Conor

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan


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