Singing on the Wild Side July 2021
July 9 - July 16
At Teach na nAmhrán: The Song House
Singing on the Wild Side is about the singing, but much more too. Over the week, our own little community will build, seed new friendships, connect to local people, explore the natural vibrant beauty surrounding us. So if you like singing, wilderness, a sense of adventure, meeting other interesting folk and returning home feeling refreshed, invigorated and in tune, then join us here.
The Song House/ Teach na nAmhrán
After running singing holidays in wild places successfully for many years, 4 years ago the chance came my way to put down roots and establish a centre in Donegal. The Song House is a centre for singing and other activities, which fit with the guiding principles of community, harmony and valuing the natural world.
Formerly known as the Poets’ House, the centre was well-known in literary circles, with Seamus Heaney a frequent visitor. Now, in its new incarnation as The Song House, I am delighted that the creative spirit of the house will be continued and enhanced.
Why Donegal? In short, the landscape, the people, the music. The landscape here on the Wild Atlantic Way is quite stunning, constantly changing in response to shifts in the light, miles of empty sandy beaches as well as the iconic mountains of Errigal and Muckish as a backdrop to every view. All bedrooms in the Song House, as well as the spacious singing room, look out onto Muckish mountain, arising majestically from the sweeping boglands. Falcarragh lies within the Gaeltacht, the Irish speaking areas of Ireland, so you are likely to hear Irish being spoken by many local residents. There are weekly music sessions in many local pubs.
Things to Do in the Area
The area of Donegal around Falcarragh is steeped in archaeological and historical interest and Celtic spirituality, as well as a unique concentration of spectacular sandy beaches and mountains. It is a walker’s paradise. Ards Forest Park with its many stunning nature trails, Glenveagh National park, Muckish mountain (Irish for hog’s back) are all close by. It is in the Gaeltacht so Irish is regularly spoken. There are 5 expansive sandy beaches within 7 miles drive of The Song House, and you can hire surfing equipment, or bicycles nearby.
Hill walking, golf, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, cycling, hiking are all available in the surrounding area.
What Songs will we Sing?
Great songs! Songs from Ireland, the British Isles, the rich vein of traditional music from USA, and songs from many World music traditions. And always a new song by Candy, in collaboration with a local singer/songwriter, or with Lindsey Williams (together we have written a book of songs for choirs: Songs from Life). We will learn music by ear, no reading of music necessary, though I’m happy to provide written music to those who want it for more difficult pieces. We’ll go to sing in special places nearby – in an old church, out in nature. Sometimes we experiment with improvisation and singing games.
Pattern of the Day
We sing for 3 hours every morning. The middle of each day will be free time to explore, do your own thing.
Most evenings we’ll eat together, then after a communal clear up (with more singing of course), we either have a visiting speaker or singer, or we sing, and create our own entertainment by sharing songs and making space for those who wish to share their talents, be they musical, storytelling or games.
Traditional culture in this area of Donegal is wonderfully rich, and we often invite local singers, poets, history or archeology experts to give us a session. There are several videos of Diane Cannon and Noeleen ní Cholla, both wonderful ‘seán-nós’ singers, singing at the Song House on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/songhousefalcarragh
Music sessions in local pubs start at 10pm. We sometimes join in at a special session on a Tuesday evening.
The Song House has 3 twin bedrooms, 1 double, and 1 family room with a double bed, 2 bunk beds and 1 single.
There is also a B&B 100 yards up the road, which has single rooms.
Arrival and Departure Times
Arrive from 4-6pm on the first evening
Depart after breakfast on the final day.
Food and shops
There are 2 little supermarkets in Falcarragh, one mile away.
Markets: veg and fish market on Friday mornings.
Organic veg collection Thursday/Friday (orders have to go in on Tuesday)
The Green Man wholefood shop and delicatessen in Dunfanaghy.
Previous singers have really enjoyed cooking the evening meal in groups of three. It was fun!
So to keep costs down, the plan is that each group of three buys, prepares and cooks an evening meal. It works out at once a week only. If you are not a confident cook- don’t worry! There are always plenty of good cooks and people to help. There are also great local fish and chips and we can treat ourselves to a meal out in the pub too.
Please let us know any special dietary needs.
What to Bring
Bring clothes for all eventualities. Rain gear and walking shoes essential.
Midge repellant. (No midges in April, but they can be an issue in damp weather in the summer.)
The Song House will provide all linen and towels, but if you like swimming, bring a swimming towel.
There is a guitar here you can use. Bring musical instruments, stories, games, poems to make our own entertainment in the evenings.
You can travel to Falcarragh easily by public transport.
• Daily Coaches from Dublin to Falcarragh (4 hours). The coach picks up at Dublin airport:
• Daily Coaches from Belfast to Falcarragh (2 ¾ hours). The coach doesn’t stop at Belfast International airport, but if you phone them, they’ll arrange for a taxi to drop you from the airport to meet the coach on the main road: http://www.gallagherscoaches.com/Map.htm
• Hourly minibus from Belfast airport to Derry: www.airporter.co.uk
• Local buses will get you from Derry to Letterkenny, then on to Falcarragh.
• Regular flights from Glasgow and Dublin to Donegal airport. 30 min drive from Song House. The car hire at Donegal airport is more expensive. Or get a taxi.
• To drive, Google maps reference is on our website
Donegal tourism http://www.donegal.ie/
We strongly advise you to arrange travel insurance to cover personal accident, cancellation of the holiday, loss of personal effects and personal liability.
In the event of your cancellation, for whatever reason, the following will apply:
• Cancellation 90 days and over before start of holiday – cost refunded less €40 admin charge
• Cancellation 46 to 89 days before start of holiday – 50% of total cost refunded, less €40 admin charge
• Cancellation 45 days before start of holiday– full cost of holiday will be charged, unless a replacement can be found. Then €40 admin charge.
Our public liability insurance covers you for injury due to our negligence during the holiday but it does not cover you for injury from other causes or for loss or damage to your property. We cannot accept responsibility for illness, injury or loss, other than that caused by our proven negligence.
“Fantastic – never thought I would be able to learn so quickly and be part of something which sounds so good.” – Trish Leeds UK 2016
“Loved the singing. Was great to be back to it. Filled up my singing tank. Candy you make it so easy to learn and enjoyable. You have a fantastic skill which makes singing accessible to everyone. Thank you for sharing it.” ZG Northern Ireland April 2018
My highlights? Candy’s leadership. And I loved being part of the creation process of a new song, by a local singer songwriter- ‘Spread your Wings’ DD June 2018