ITMA and Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2020

Following the lamented cancellation of the 48th Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, we are pleased to announce that ITMA and the Summer School are collaborating to share a series of recordings and events online.

Image: Mick O'Brien, Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, 1990s. Photograph: Peter Laban

Since its foundation in 1973, Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy (SSWC) has occupied a very special place in the hearts and minds of the traditional music community. For the first full week in July each year, thousands of musicians, singers and dancers from all parts of Ireland and further afield gather in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.

ITMA is very proud to have established and developed a long-standing involvement with SSWC. With so many of the finest tutors, tradition bearers and performers participating annually in a wide and varied programme, the Summer School has proven to be an exceptionally rich source for ITMA field recording. The amassed audio-visual recordings of solo and ensemble instrumental playing, unaccompanied singing, step-dancing and set-dancing, and lectures, are an invaluable traditional music archive of national importance. ITMA is extremely grateful to all the performers and SSWC who have given ITMA the opportunity to collect and preserve their performances at recitals, lectures and workshops for future generations.

Recording the Willie Clancy Summer School / photograph courtesy Tony Kearns

Unfortunately, the 48th SSWC cannot proceed as normal in light of COVID-19. However, ITMA and SSWC are very proud to work together to fill this void, by making the richness of the ITMA Field Recording Archive available to all.

We are now delighted to announce that three distinct projects will be shared online:

  1. 10 programmes of selected highlights from SSWC Recitals
  2. A 'live' stream of the 2019 SSWC Recitals, Concerts, Tribute event and Lectures
  3. A reflective tribute to Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

Firstly, ITMA staff are busy curating a series of 10 programmes of selected highlights from recordings made at the instrumental, song and dance recitals over the years. For example, ITMA Director Liam O’Connor is making a selection from the Fiddle Recitals. We are unearthing fantastic footage which we look forward to making available online soon. 

Secondly, from 4th  to 12th July 2020 we will be streaming online all the official events recorded by ITMA at SSWC in 2019. These will be scheduled daily to mirror the actual Summer School programme as it happened last year. For example, on Monday, 6 July, the Harp Recital will be streamed from 5 pm. This will be followed by the Fiddle Recital at 8 pm. 

Thirdly, ITMA will curate an online tribute reflecting on the Summer School’s history, ethos, development and hopes for the future. This programme will be made available online from 18 July 2020. In addition to highlighted audio-visual material from past summer schools, it will feature the work of photographer Tony Kearns who has been documenting events at SSWC since the early 1990s. Our aim is to capture a variety of perspectives from the traditional arts community, and to reflect on and articulate what makes Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy so special to so many people. We would welcome any related material which could be useful in making this tribute. Donations can be sent to [email protected].

Other innovative projects with our partners are still being developed. Our partner Raidió na Gaeltachta will share special broadcast highlights. Having begun recording at the first SSWC they also have created an invaluable audio archive. 

More information, as it becomes available, will be posted on, and