Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy:Transmission, performance and commemoration of Irish traditional music, 1973-2012
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This thesis examines Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy (SSWC) and its role in the transmission, performance and commemoration of Irish traditional music from 1973-2012. SSWC is regarded as the foremost summer school in the Irish traditional music calendar and serves as a template on which many other contemporary schools are subsequently modelled. The legacy of SSWC is explored through the School's historical development, organisational structure, ideological evolution and complex interactions with other institutions and an international community of Irish traditional musicians. Using SSWC as a case-study, this thesis introduces re-traditionalisation as a conceptual platform on which to interrogate the tradition-modernity dialectic within Irish traditional music practice and discourse. It finds that the rhythmical ritual re-enactment of the School's activities converts Miltown into a symbolic space in which the events of the School unfold and develop multiple symbolic meanings. A developing sense of regional consciousness created within the liminal time and space(s) of the School resonates with Irish traditional music communities of practice across the world, anchoring its success. Central to this exploration is the valorisation of Willie Clancy, the uilleann piper and the mutually reciprocal relationship between Willie Clancy and the School through which his status as a cultural icon is annually re-affirmed and reconstituted. Employing an inter-disciplinary theoretical model and utilising ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, it situates the School within the changing socio-economic and cultural structures of Ireland during the forty-year period 1973-2012. In doing so it expands the arena of SSWC's recognition, measurement and articulation within the epistemological field of Irish Studies, and by foregrounding SSWC as a site of analysis, makes a worthy contribution to the emerging discipline of Irish Music Studies.