Festival brings Irish ray of sunshine

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GDM Academy of Irish Dance put on a show at the Albert Dock

Traditional Irish music brought life into the city this weekend as Liverpool Irish Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The GDM Academy of Irish Dance and band members of Comhaltas, a group which preserves and promotes Irish song, dance and language, united at the Albert Dock where the sun shone brightly on them as they showcased their talent.

A crowd quickly formed around the seated band players and their Crosby-based dancers, and it wasn’t long before the audience were clapping their hands and tapping their feet.

GDM’s principle dance teacher Lynda Duffy-Merriman explained how initial problems – when the music system failed – were overcome when the dancers were able to improvise with the band players.

Ms Duffy-Merriman said: “We hadn’t rehearsed, we hadn’t done anything.”

She expressed the importance of bringing Irish culture to Liverpool.

“We participate in the festival because it gives all the dancers and the parents an experience of the true Irish culture so they’ve come together with musicians, with no rehearsal but they have the skills and experience to really enjoy what’s happening and participate together, and that’s what Irish culture is about – fun, laughter, music, enjoyment … and that’s what this event brings together.”

The open production proved a massive success with onlookers.

Comhaltas band members play traditional Irish music

Guitar player Joe Connally wanted the festivities to raise awareness of the cultural and creative connections between Liverpool and Ireland and explained the importance of the setting.

He told JMU Journalism: “We all came here today to portray the Irish music which, in essence, plays an important part of the heritage of Liverpool because during the famine a lot of people left Ireland and came over to seek work so we are a part of this maritime scene.

“All these tunes are traditional so no matter what band or quarter we play in, we can come together and play that music because it never alters so we fit in no matter what musicians play the music. The music stays the same – traditional music.”

Flute player Andrew Connally added: “It’s highlighting the culture and without highlighting it, you don’t realise how much the Irish are the invisible race because you could walk past someone in the street, who has got both sides to their family that are Irish, and you wouldn’t actually know they were Irish.”

The festival, which runs from October 11th-21st, will feature a variety of acts including Irish films, heritage walks and talks, poetry, comedy and literature at different sites across the city.

 

About Michaela Routledge, JMU Journalism