Irish Traditional Music Ensemble

Posted by Gualala Arts ; Posted on 
Classes/Workshops; Opportunity - DEADLINE :  
Irish Traditional Music Ensemble


Irish Traditional Music Ensemble is a new weekly workshop at Gualala Arts, beginning Thursday, July 7, 2022 and continuing weekly from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Music lovers, particularly those familiar with Irish Traditional music are invited to join with instructor Shelley Connolly and others on Thursday afternoons at Gualala Arts. Learn to play popular reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas and slide. Some ability to play a musical instrument is needed. The fee for the workshop is $10 per class for Gualala Arts members, or $15 per class for non-members.

This is a beginning Irish music course, but NOT a beginning musician class. Knowledge of some appropriate instrument—guitar, mandolin, flute, whistle, accordion, violin/fiddle—is required. At least an intermediate knowledge of an instrument and an ability to maybe learn another instrument during the course of learning the tunes is needed. (If someone isn’t quite ready for prime-time, they can contact Shelley Connolly about private lessons to get them up to speed, but “I wouldn’t want to take the class time from the others to focus on learning the basics.”)

In addition to learning tunes and sets of tunes, Connolly adds, “I will teach how to “lift” the tune, that is, give it life so that it is fun for the dancers, and in time, and in tune. I am proficient on fiddle, tenor banjo/mandolin and DADGAD style guitar. I can get by with the B/C button box and some penny-whistling, but flutes, pipes and bouzoukis are on their own unless they can incorporate the ideas I’m laying down. This will include adding ornamentation, i.e. triplets, rolls, and variations to the root tunes.”

An enthusiastic musician and lover of Irish traditional music, Connelly initially played guitar, but soon found a fiddle and also learned to play it was well. “Before a year was up, I’d booked my flight to Ireland to attend a two week Trad school at UL (University of Limerick) and the annual world renowned Willie Clancy Summer School. My passion for the music only grew, and I would come out to the Mendocino Woodlands for Lark Camp every year. Eventually, I picked up the tenor banjo and found it easier to play than the fiddle, as I was already a guitar player, and that became my main instrument.”

Having recently arrived on the Mendonoma coast to live and work, Connolly knew she needed to find “my tribe of Irish musicians, and starting this gathering at the Gualala Arts Center will hopefully bring them out into the open as well as ignite the passion in someone else who may want to enjoy the music. It is my hope to pass on all the passion of the music, the lift and lilt of the tunes that make it dance music, and keep the tradition alive and moving forward.”

The goal of the workshop is to perform for events that the Arts Center puts on and perhaps a weekly session at the Sea Ranch Lodge, as well as for our own enjoyment. The possibilities are boundless, but the joy of playing the music together and giving it life is the main intention. More information and registration is available by contacting Gualala Arts at 707-884-1138. General information is on the website at or by contacting the instructor at