Alison is delighted to announce the publication of our free online Irish Traditional Music courses, produced by some of Ireland’s most talented musicians. As an Irish company, Alison is proud of Ireland’s rich musical heritage and is excited to offer these free courses to our growing community of over 20 million Learners worldwide.
The project has been spearheaded by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, a presenter on the Irish TV station TG4 and a highly respected fiddle player. Besides coordinating this unique project, Doireann is also the subject matter expert responsible for the Irish Fiddle courses. Doireann is delighted for the opportunity to share her unparalleled knowledge of her instrument with Alison’s millions of Learners.
A fiddle player almost as soon as she could walk, Doireann Ní Ghlacáin has stellar Irish heritage credentials and is passionate about all aspects of the culture. Her maternal grandfather is the famous composer and arranger Seán Ó Riada who is acknowledged as a giant of the 1960s Irish music revival, while her paternal grandfather, Tom Glackin, was an accomplished fiddle player from Donegal. He taught his children the instrument and they passed the skills on to Doireann and her talented siblings and cousins. As she says herself, “Music is very much the family business.”
Although Doireann plays fiddle in the Donegal style, and retains a strong connection to that north-western county, she was brought up in Dublin where her father, Kevin Glackin, played a key role in the capital’s resurgent traditional music scene. Doireann’s mother, Dorcha Ní Riada instilled in her a love of language. She came from Cúil Aodha (Coolea), a village in the Múscraí (Muskerry) Gaeltacht region of Co Cork, and so Doireann was brought up as a Gaeilgeoir, or native Irish speaker, and, as you might expect, as a singer. “My mother nurtured a love of sean nós singing in us and we spent our childhoods between Dublin and Cúil Aodha, where I learned the songs from the area.”
Unsurprisingly, Doireann’s life has revolved around performing and teaching the fiddle and she tours regularly with concertina player Sarah Flynn. They recorded an album, The Housekeepers, in tribute to the great women of the Irish musical tradition, and have performed from China to the USA and all over Europe. An appearance on the national Irish language TV network TG4 a few years ago led to her becoming a presenter and she’s now a familiar face to viewers. She hasn’t neglected her own education, however, and has a degree in Irish and History, a Masters in Irish Literature and is currently doing a PhD in Irish and Ethno-Musicality, focusing on the songs of the Muskerry Gaeltacht.
When commissioned to create this suite of Irish Traditional Music courses exclusively for Alison, she called concertina player and camera man Liam O’Brien and the pair worked closely on the project, with Liam recording the videos. “We knew we wanted the top musicians in their field and that’s what these courses provide that is unique. The teachers are all young musicians at the top of their game. I love to sit down and listen to their music. As fellow musicians we were able to work together and make sure the lessons were accessible to learners.”
All of the subject matter experts behind the courses are experienced teachers in their respective instruments. “That’s the lovely thing in Irish traditional music. You’ve been taught for years and then when you master your craft, you go and teach it to others. Whereas in other art forms it’s very much about you, in Irish traditional music you are aware of being a link in the chain. You learn it from somebody and you pass it on to the next generation. All the teachers are very aware that we’re just bearers of the tradition and we must pass it on to the next generation as best we can and while being as truthful to the tradition as we can.”
“I love the vision of Alison in regards to these free courses and the learning of music – that it is a joy of life, and everyone should have access to learn how to play musical instruments without respect to their financial circumstances.”