This indefinable “Spirit of Craiceann” is difficult to explain, but is has to do with a combination of things. If you have ever spent time on a small island anywhere you will understand that islands have an almost magical quality, and this is certainly so for Inis Oirr. This is a combination of the people and their traditions, together with the island’s location, and its landscape, and its history. During Craiceann each year, the place almost becomes a musical and bodhrán island, the summerschool becomes the focus for both residents and visitors, and this creates a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. The eclectic mixture of students of all ages and backgrounds from different countries creates a very stimulating environment, and their interaction with each other, and the tutors, both at classes and evening music sessions makes for easy learning and shared enjoyment. Many people return year after year to participate in Craiceann, and friendships are forged there that will last forever. There is a feeling of being part of the Craiceann family, and many people plan their annual vacations to include the Craiceann week, and look on it as a sort of homecoming when they arrive back on Inis Oirr.
Laurence Doherty, who came to Craiceann 2013 and returned ever since, wrote this lovely poem:
The early morning sun pinks limestone on
north Clare and westward reels and jigs
over the silvering seas to golden Inis Oirr.
Here, the planished waters on Atlantic swell
softly rock the ferries at the pier;
a lone yacht put-puts out into the blue.
Each year in June, this gentle isle is home
to Irish drum admirers near and far, from
Michigan to Moscow, Alkmaar to the land of Oz.
There’s a strange and childish comfort being back
in daily ‘school’, ushered to our rooms for class,
where the down-up-down of tipper strokes,
in time- rhythms on taut skins, glide
and scrape to smiles and friendly laughter,
amid rough circles of a shared delight.
At evening, music bubbles up again,
and, like the Guinness, overflows into
the wee small hours: spills from Ruairi’s;
flows on the twilight air to the Ostan;
laps in the door of welcoming Tigh Ned’s;
and may be scooped up gently by a legend,
virtuoso drawn here like some tide,
and hammered into melodies so strong
that none can stay the tapping of the foot.
Approaching week’s end all will sit, entranced,
as Micheal pipes a slow air on tin whistle,
siren sounds to lure us back – the haunting ‘Inisheer’.
Copyright: Laurence Doherty