Éilís Crean - Fiddle and founder of Authentic Ireland Cultural Enrichment (AICE)
Éilís Crean, founder of Authentic Ireland Cultural Enrichment (A.I.C.E) was born in Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon, Ireland and grew up in a house where traditional Irish music was cultivated, cherished and appreciated. She plays fiddle and was taught by the highly esteemed and legendary Eddie Kelly and her childhood years saw many hours with Eddie, teasing through the artful arrangement of his notes during the weekly lessons.
Through the years, Éilís has competed and won prizes at various events throughout Ireland and Great Britain. Éilís, whose profession is Healthcare Information Technology consultancy, brings fulfillment to her life these days by teaching traditional Irish music style and technique, specifically the East Galway style of fiddle playing, in Eddie's inimitable way. She is the sole proponent of this unique style and she derives great Joy from passing it along to those who want to learn it.
Meaití Jo Shéamais Ó Fátharta - Gaelic Language class instructor and musician
Meaití comes from the south Connemara Irish speaking area of Inverin, three miles west of Spiddal village and four miles east of Tully where TG4 television headquarters is located. He had a keen interest in Irish traditional dance music and in sean-nós singing from his early childhood, having picked up the songs from his mother and learned to play tunes on tin whistle from his uncle Máirtín when he was eight. The same uncle, who himself played a good accordion, got him his first practice set of pipes at the age of thirteen.
The young teenager was exhilarated with this new challenge and although he was basically self-taught he steadily added to his store of tunes, picking them up by ear from his uncle and local and college friends and by listening to traditional Irish music shows on the radio. He started playing gigs while in college in the late sixties and was able to purchase his first half set of uilleann pipes and a concert flute during his two years as a teacher but had to wait a while longer before getting his first full set in the late eighties from Bruce Du Vé, an Australian who lived in Spiddal at the time. He now plays a concert pitch full set made by Charles Roberts, an English pipe maker, who operated in Sligo and made this set, which has a fourth drone pitched in G, some time in the eighties.
Meaití left teaching to become one of the first seven broadcasters with the inaugural all Irish language new radio station, Raidió na Gaeltachta, in 1972. A large portion of what was to become a 38 year career was spent collecting, producing and presenting traditional Irish music and songs from all over Ireland and further afield until his early retirement in December 2009.
He also took part in the annual Irish national festival, Oireachtas na Gaeilge or the Oireachtas for over thirty years and captured all of the main trophies for sean-nós singing, including the coveted Ó Riada Cup in 2001. He is also well known as a sean-nós and an instrumental music adjudicator at fleadhs throughout Ireland and as a tutor, holding workshops at regular events and festivals inside and outside of Ireland e.g. Le Festival Interceltique in Lorient in Brittany and The Milwaukee Irish Festival in Wisconsin.
Tony and Sheila Davoren - Irish music, dance, song and culture
Sheila began Irish dancing at the age of four, with the Golden School in New York. She earned her TCRG in 1993 after finishing a long competitive career at World Championship level. After attending C.W.Post College and majoring in Public Relations, she went on to dance professionally with 'The Chieftains' and many other popular music groups. In 1996 Sheila was one of the first Americans to audition for Riverdance the Show, and after being accepted remained with them for 3 years.
In 1998 Sheila directed and produced "Dancing at the Crossroads" a 70-minute instructional Ceili video, starring fellow Riverdance dancers from the Lee Company. The video has since become a staple study guide for those dancers wishing to sit for their TCRG or ADCRG.
Sheila lives in Louisiana where she juggles the tasks of mothering her two daughters and one son, directing Camp Rince Ceol, and teaching Irish dance classes whenever possible.
Tony hails from Hollywood Co.Wicklow, Ireland. In 1992, he was invited to join the Celtic Irish choral group Anuna,and through that, began touring with Riverdance the Show. For the next five years Tony appeared on many of the great stages of the world, including Radio City Music Hall, and performed for the Prince of Wales in the Royal variety show in The Albert Hall,in London.
Artists he has recorded with include Sting, The Chieftains, and Sinead O'Connor. Tony is also featured on two Grammy Award winning recordings "the Long Black Veil" and "Riverdance the Show". He also directed the music for "Dancing at the Crossroads" and has produced recordings for renowned Irish soloists Katie McMahon and Dave Donohue. Tony has also been tour manager for bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien and for Irish music greats, Altan.
Tony and Sheila first met while performing in Riverdance the Lee Company. Their mutual love of music, dance and enjoying their Irish culture drew them together and before long they were married in 2002. They are currently living in Louisiana and are enjoying parenting their children Roisin (6), Aoife (5) and Malachy (2).
Tony and Sheila along with the Instructors and staff of CRC celebrated in 2009 their 10th Anniversary of Camp Rince Ceol.
Check out http://www.thomondgate.com/index.html for the Ceol Rince Dance Camp coming soon to Franklin TN!
Like on Facebook: Éilís Crean and 'Authentic Ireland Cultural Enrichment'.
Historically, people in Ireland gathered to play music. They gathered in each other's houses or even at the crossroads where dancers were also part of the entourage. The purpose of the gathering was camaraderie and friendship. The motivation was to inspire and vitalize each other. Times were difficult; there was poverty, there was hunger and there was the constant worry of providing food and shelter for the family.
Even in the 1950's and 1960's musicians were motivated to play, just for the sheer love of the music. Those who worked on the building sites could be seen cycling to work with a box or fiddle strapped to the back of their bicycles. A dedicated co-worker would have arranged cement bags to be used as seating and the kettle would be boiling on the open fire. With accordions and fiddles poised, music and glee would fill the air, everyone energized by the beauty of the music; that alone sustained them. And 50 or 60 years later, people still talk about those sessiúns, the fun, the Joy; all worries were eclipsed by those tunes over the whistling kettle and open fire.
It is this ethos that motivates me today to play music and it is what influenced me to form A.I.C.E. It has guided me since my youth, because I lived that life. I lived it because growing up with my dad I heard all the stories and I witnessed the simplicity of the joy and love of those poignant gatherings around the whistling kettle and open fire. This fills me with inspiration to at least try to recreate something like this in the present day, in the USA. If these moments exhilarated all those involved, so much so, that years on, they recall those days with nostalgia, surely we too could use some of that enchantment in our present day?
Éilís Crean – Founder of A.I.C.E and traditional Irish fiddleplyer
Máirín Uí Chéide (Irish singer and speaker) was born in July, 1958 in Leitirmóir, the heart of the rural Conamara Gaeltacht, like other rural places in Ireland except that Irish was spoken by almost everyone except those in authority or the professions. Surrounded by a strong oral tradition, it seems to Máirín that she has been singing all of her life.
Máirín received 1st place at a women’s competition at Oireactas na Gaeilge. Winning many awards at Oireachtas na Gaeilge since the tender age of sixteen, when she had the great fortune of being judged by the late Seán Óg ÓTuama, who was passionate about the sean nós style of singing. Years later she was won his commemo¬rative plaque three or more times.
Máirín had already won the coveted Corn Uí Ríada (O’ Riada Cup) at Oireactas na Gaeilge, the highest honor in sean nós singing at the Oireactas, when she moved to Boston with her husband and four children in 1986 (now they have five). Since then, she has sung for many an occasion.
Máirín Uí Chéide