Making musical magic in Granard

Rath Mhuire Music School Granard

Last year a young Mullinalaghta lady has been inspired to establish a music school in the County Longford town of Granard. Jackie Callaghan (19), an avid music lover, identified a strong need for the development of music among younger ages within her native north Longford area.

So began the Rath Mhuire Music School which meets weekly at the Rath Mhuire centre and the community hall. Each week four teachers gather in the two Granard venues to teach a variety of instruments including whistle, flute, fiddle, banjo, guitar, keyboard and piano accordion. These teachers are Cian Farrelly, Laura Callaghan, Sinéad Sheridan and Jackie Callaghan.

A daughter of Séan and Lucy, Jackie Callaghan started playing music when she was nine years old. Today she is a second-year student of Irish Music and Dance, a four-year degree programme at the University of Limerick (UL).

“The response has been great to date. We’re getting a lot of kids from around the local area and out as far as Mullahoran and Edgeworthstown,” said Jackie, who plays piano and piano accordion.

Such is the success of the Rath Mhuire Music School that the teachers and students alike are hoping to broaden the range of instruments available to the children.

“It is hoped to provide a music instrument bank which will encourage children to take up other instruments and learn to play them,” said Jackie who is also Youth Officer with the Joe Callaghan branch of Comhaltas.

Parents may quite rightly be concerned about which instrument to purchase for their children who are just starting out with music. There is always the possibility that the child may not keep up an interest in that instrument and may decide to play a different one altogether.

“This is where the idea of a music instrument bank would be useful. With some funding it is hoped to purchase instruments for the school, and then children could rent these instruments as trials until they are decided as to where their interest lies,” said Jackie, 2010 All Ireland Champion in Piano Accordion.

She added: “We have also been encouraging families where there may have been some instruments handed down to bring them to the school with a view to selling them at a reasonable price.”

It is hoped that a Rath Mhuire Music School concert will take place in late March or early April 2012, the purpose of which is to raise funds for the music instrument bank.

In July 2011, Jackie and her fellow teachers organised the week-long Rath Mhuire Music Summer School. Fifty students attended and were exposed to a wider variety of instruments than during the ordinary weekly classes. These instruments included the bodhrán, mandolin and button accordion.

“It was split into two sections. One where we did games and music theory, and the other where we learned to play the instruments,” said Jackie who hopes to run the music school this summer also.

She added: “I think a music school is good for kids because it gives them good discipline. They learn to respect one another and to develop and grow in confidence. It gives a basic music knowledge.”

Classes, which cover ages six to 16, begin at 7pm and last one hour. Each class costs €10 per child. There is a family discount whereby the cost is €8 per child if there is more than one family member taking part in a class.

For further information about the Rath Mhuire Music School contact Rath Mhuire Resource Centre on 043-6686309.