Summer School Events

Musician in residence programme

The Musician in Residence programme allows students to meet professional musicians in an informal setting to discuss all aspects of being a traditional musician (the current context of the music) and its role and function within our wider lifestyle. The aim is to illustrate and bring awareness to the students of the wider context of the music which is being taught in class. This exposure reinforces and consolidates students’ interest in the music. It encourages and complements their interest, and in the longer term gives them confidence in pursuing their interest in their particular instrument.

Some of our past musicians in residence have been John E. Lavelle, Joe Burke, John Carty, Liam O’Connor, Mary Bergin, Laoise Kelly, Catherine McEvoy, Micheál Ó’Raghallaigh, Mick O’Brien, Treasa Ní Cheannabháin, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Eileen O’Brien, Kieran Hanrahan, Noreen O’Sullivan, Paul Dooley, Edel Fox, Padraig McGovern and Derek Hickey many of whom have joined our tutor list.

‘Níor chuir sé cos í mbróg leathair fear ab’fhearr ná é’ (A better man than he never put his foot in a leather boot)

– Seanfhocal Acla ó Phádraic Seoighthe ón a leabhar ‘Oidhreacht Acla’

official opening

The Summer School is officially opened each year by an invited guest. It is a relatively informal event with plenty of music, singing and dancing after the opening.

Some of our past guests and dignitaries who have opened our summer school in the past include former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Current President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ciarán Mac Mathúna, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Eamon Ó Cuív TD, An tOllamh Tomás Ó Concheanainn, Pádraig Ó Raghallaigh, Dr. James White, Tom Kenny, Ted Williams, Matt Molloy, Cathal Goan, Sean Potts, John McGahern, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Harry Bradshaw, Mary Cloake, Dr. Katie Sweeney, John F.Deane, Padraig Ó hAoláin, Áine Hensey, Peadar Ó Riada, Tommy Peoples, Piaras Ó Raghallaigh, Micheál Ó Suilleabhái, Grace Toland, Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Seán Keane and former President of Comhaltas, Vince Jordan.

Aifreann as Gaeilge

A very important part of our summer school is Aifreann as Gaeilge on Sunday which takes place on the first Sunday of the summer school week in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Pollagh. Occasionally the mass has been broadcast live on National Radio.

‘Deán taisteal ar Aifreann an Domhnaigh, má’s fluich na fuar í an mhaidin, ar fhaitíos De Luain, gurbh í an uaigh do leabaidh’ ( ‘Go to Sunday Mass if its wet or cold for fear that on Monday the grave will be your bed’)

Seanfhocal Acla ó Phádraic Seoighthe ón a leabhar ‘Oidhreacht Acla’


Each year we host a traditional music recital. In the past few years this event has taken place in the idyllic setting of St.Thomas’s Church in Dú Goirt. Music on the evening is provided by some of our tutors and our musician in residence of the year also entertains the audience.

This event is recorded each year for the Scoil Acla musical archive as well as for Raidio na Gaeltachta and other national & regional radio stations. The Traditional Music Recital is attended by a huge and delighted audience who appreciate the performance of traditional Irish Music in a natural acoustic venue.

Lectures & LAUNCHES

Subjects of local interest such as aspects of Achill history and archaeology have all been covered. Lectures and talks on Major Freyer, Captain Boycott, Emily Weddall, Darrell Figgis, An Paorach, Seanfhocail Acla, Alexander Hector & the Achill Fishery, Nangle in a new light, Paul Henry, Fr Manus Sweeney, Heinrich Boll, Bás na Beatha, Ar an mbothair go hAcaill, Teacht I dTir, Logainmeacha Acla, Amhráin Na Trá Báine, Ghaelig Acla, Buí agus Glas, Peadar Ó Donnell, Chief O’Neill, John Feeney, Rev Edward Nangle, Antoine Raiftearaí, The music of Mayo, The Achill Railway Conradh Na Gaeilge 100 Bliain agus a leithéid. As well as this artists from across Ireland have used the Scoil Samhraidh to launch their CDs or Books.

historical walks

Each year we host a guided walk which has some local significance. Our walks are conducted by a professional and knowledgeable guide and focus on Achill’s rich cultural history including many nuggets of interesting facts.

In previous years we have had walks on the coffin trail across Minaun, to the stunning Annagh beach and many more.

An event not to be missed for the history buff or outdoor enthusiast!

hata acla

During the 19th century a top hat was left on a post at the pier in Polranny for any Achill men to wear if they were going to Westport or Castlebar, in a bid to hide their poverty.

The men would do their business in town and leave the ‘hata’ back on the post at the pier when they were getting the boat back to the island. Thankfully we have progressed since then. This group talent competition is to honour that old Achill tradition.

Gala concert

Our Annual Gala Concert provides a great night of traditional music and entertainment with performances from the Musician in Residence and guests, dancers, singers and a selection of our renowned summer school tutors as well as visiting guests.

A night not to be missed!


At the end of the the Scoil Acla Music Summer School we host our ‘Aeraíocht’. This is an open air concert where the class participants in the music, song and dance classes perform the material they have learned during the week. It is always a fantastic day of pride for students, parents and the Scoil Acla organising committee. The Aeraíocht is opened by the sound of the Achill Pipers as they march to the stage. The Scoil Acla flag is then raised by either the oldest person in the village of Dooagh or a visiting dignitary.

Poetry & writers’ workshop readings

As part of our regular programme of events, our Writer’s Workshop give a reading of their work during the week. In the past we have also invited poets and writers to Scoil Acla to give readings.

Those who have obliged in the past are John F Deane, Paul Durcan, Séamus Heaney, Jack Harte, Gerry O’Malley, Pat O’Brien , Micheál Ó Conghaile, Brian Keenan, Macdara Woods, Éíléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Harding, Micheál Gallagher and Mary O’Malley.

Sincere thank you to our funding agencies & partner organisations