The pandemic couldn’t stop the music coming from The Song House in Falcarragh last weekend as they hosted a virtual Sean-Nós weekend.

In normal times, The Song House hosts singing retreats, workshops, courses and holidays in a traditional cottage overlooking Muckish.

But this month’s plans for a weekend of Sean-Nós singing were halted by Covid-19. This original gathering of 20 individuals from the UK and Ireland, was to be Donegal’s first residential weekend focussed around Irish Traditional Song.

Candy Verney, owner of the Song House in Falcarragh
The Song House in Falcarragh

Instead, The Song House owner Candy Verney took a not-so-traditional route and brought the music online instead.

Sean-nós fans from around the world tuned in to learn about the history and performance of the singing style.

They were treated to classes from some of the best talents around, including Lillis Ó Laoire, Noeleen Ní Cholla, Diane Ní Chanainn, Conor Ó Gallachóir and Seanán Mac Aoidh.

Diane Ní Chanainn singing on Zoom for the Song House Weekend

Together, singers created the promise a magical immersive experience into Irish heritage, history and culture through the medium of Ireland’s treasured and ancient traditions of Storytelling and Sean-Nós singing.

Undeterred by lockdown, the organisers thought quickly, positively and adapted. This made space for the wider and larger audience who’s individual and collective experiences surpassed all expectations. 

Noeleen Ní Cholla mid song

Traditional practices still thrive in many parts of Donegal, thanks to tradition bearers and scholars alike. Because of the interest and success generated by this event, organisers are already planning to create more like it, both for the in person and online participant. Watch this space!

The event was created in collaboration between The Song House Ireland – a residential retreat centre, and An tSean Bheairic – a community culture & heritage centre, both based in Falcarragh.