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20th Anniversary TradFest

It is with great pleasure that I am writing this welcome to our special anniversary celebrations, more so given the turbulent and challenging conditions in which we have found ourselves operating since the Covid-19 pandemic began.


Glengormley School of Traditional Music (GSoTM) is a voluntary, community-based arts organisation now in it’s 20th year.

GSoTM was established to promote, for the benefit of the inhabitants of Glengormley and North Belfast and its environs, without distinction of age, sex, race, political, religious or other opinions, the education and training of people in all areas of Irish Traditional Music skills and musicianship and to promote appreciation for, and knowledge of, Irish Traditional Music for the benefit of the general public.


We are very much a “community” with a very strong emphasis on the social aspect of the school. Giving our pupils the opportunity to come together to play music is and remains one of our objectives.

This Festival will be a culmination of a series of events celebrating the 20th Anniversary of GSoTM, our successes and the opportunity to set out our vision for the future to the wider community. The festival provides the pupils, past pupils, their families and the wider public, the opportunity to take part in a series of events to celebrate the milestone of our 20th Anniversary.

I also wish to thank our funders for the Festival; Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, the Arts Council NI National Lottery Fund and Arts & Business, along with those businesses that have taken sponsorship in this programme.  Their support has helped us open the Festival to a wider audience and we very grateful of their ongoing support.

Thank you,


Ray Morgan

Chair, Glengormley School of Traditional Music



Saturday 12 & Sunday 13, Saturday 19 March 2022

The week will kick off with an intense weekend of traditional music masterclasses with nationally recognised musicians featuring the 10 instruments that are currently being taught in GSoTM.

When and Where: Workshops will run from 10.30am to 3.30pm* on Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 March at Edmund Rice College, Hightown Road, Glengormley.  
Cost: £20 GSOTM Members, £30 non-members

* Please note follow exceptions:
- Button Accordion workshops: *UPDATED* INTERMEDIATE 10.30am to 12.30pm / BEGINNERS 1.30pm to 3.30pm


- Concertina workshops: 10.30am to 1.30pm

- Adult Tin Whistle workshop: Sunday 13 March only.


Banjo / Mandolin

Paul Conlon

Paul Conlon’s tenor banjo playing has been rooted in the local session scene and beyond for many years.


He has an innovative style of playing that compliments any other traditional musical instrument.


He has taught banjo at the Andersonstown School of Music, BelfastTrad and currently teaches at GSOTM. He believes it is very important as a music teacher to make each individual student feel comfortable and confident within their group, keeping the atmosphere very informal and engage in conversations about different musical styles and players.


He is passionate about his music and this reflects on his teaching methodology.

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Button Accordion

Niamh McCallan

Niamh McCallan has been a part of Glengormley School of Traditional music since it began 20 years ago.


Starting as a student and progressing to Tin Whistle teacher, Musical Director, Niamh returned this year as the Button Accordion teacher. Niamh is also a Secondary School teacher, teaching English and Music.


As well as her work with GSOTM, she has worked with Belfast TradFest leading their ‘Whistle and sing’ workshops as an introduction for younger students to Irish traditional music. 


Niamh has mentored numerous students over the years and prepared them for exams and competitions such as the Fleadh Cheoil and Scór na nÓg.

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Conor Caldwell

Conor Caldwell is a musician, researcher,

and lecturer.


He is best known as one half of the fiddle duo NORTH, as well as a member of the folk group Craobh Rua, and the international artistic ensemble Oran Bagraidh.


Outside of playing and teaching music, Conor has published a number of books and essays on various aspects of the tradition, particularly fiddle music and dancing in county Donegal.


He has worked as a researcher on a number of television programmes, most notably Se Mo Laoch (TG4), Cosáin Cheoil (BBC Alba/RTÉ0, and The Northern Fiddler (BBC Gaeilge/TG4). 



Grainne Meyer

Harpist and Pianist Gráinne Meyer has recently completed a postgraduate diploma in classical and Irish traditional music at the TU Dublin conservatoire of music, receiving tuition from Cliona Doris, Denise Kelly and Gráinne Hambly.


She previously received an honours music degree from the University of York, where she was awarded the Thomas Beecham scholarship.


As a traditional musician Gráinne has won multiple All Ireland and Ulster medals.


As well as performing, Gráinne is in demand as a teacher and is harp tutor for City of Belfast School of Music, Glengormley School of traditional Music, Dun Uladh, Omagh Comhaltas and Ceoltoiri Crosskeys.


Gráinne is also musical director of the award winning Elver Harp Ensemble and the Comhaltas “Mind and Music” Orchestra.


Her arrangements have been recently featured on Classic FM and RTÉ. 

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Uilleann Piping

Aaron O'Hagan

Aaron O’Hagan is a musician, teacher and maker of fine instruments.

Aaron specialises in Uilleann Pipes and Wooden Flutes, teaching and performing regularly on his own instruments.


He has been involved in several musical projects over the last few years and toured Europe and America promoting traditional Irish music.  


Most recently he has produced an album of traditional material alongside renowned bouzouki player, Luke Ward, “From the Devil’s Punchbowl”, which was released at the Ennis Trad Festival In November 2021.

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Charlie Graham

Charlie Graham is a teacher and maker of bodhrans who realised that the instrument was not given its due respect within traditional music, as it was believed anyone could play it.


Charlie decided to address this and developed a method of notes, skills and grades to encourage bodhran players to reach their full potential and achieve respect for this instrument and its role with other musicians.


Bodhran players should never stop developing their musical ability as they are the heartbeat of music.


Past students have become world champions or players of high standards and achievements.


Through his efforts, over the past thirty years in teaching, the bodhran has become a respected individual instrument in the world of music.

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Lorraine Glenn

Lorraine is a regular tutor at the annual Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay and the Consairtín festival in Ennis. 


She grew up in Toonagh, just outside Ennis in Co. Clare. She started learning music from Frank Custy at the age of 6 on tin whistle and a year later began the concertina. She was taught by Dymphna O' Sullivan, Terry Bingham, and Noel Hill and was very influenced by the music of her teachers and the music of local musicians.


She grew up playing in pub sessions in Ennis, Miltown Malbay, Lahinch, Doolin and Lisdoonvarna and continued to play regularly in Co. Clare until she moved to Belfast in 2011. 


She works as a music therapist and teaches concertina in Belfast.

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Gary Duffy

Gary Duffy is a highly respected flute practitioner and contributor within the traditional music scene of Belfast and beyond.


Gary holds a Masters and Fellowship alongside other vocational traditional music teaching qualifications. With over 4 decades of performance, workshops, recording, composition, research and study Gary is an extremely well qualified and effective educator of traditional music.


Performing regularly with his 2 sons in the Garrick Bar Belfast and winners of a recently televised TG4 talent competition provides testament to his selfless dedication to family and to the transmission/preservation of our shared musical tradition into the next generation.


Gary’s attention to detail and yet respectful approach to learning for all levels makes for a uniquely effective and informed workshop experience.

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Tin Whistle

Maria Rafferty

Maria is a Tin whistle player, fluter and singer from Belfast and has been a part of the Traditional Irish Music scene in the city from 1987.


Primarily a session player in her younger years, she is also a past member of many local bands and groups, ranging from Folk, to Traditional Irish Music groups  to singing groups/circles and choirs.


Trained through McPeake School of Music, and having had the opportunity to spend many years in the company of well-known and respected musicians from the locality, Maria is very thankful of the large repertoire of music she has acquired and now shares this with the many students she teaches in the greater Belfast area and beyond.

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Barry Skeffington

Barry Skeffington is a renowned and respected guitarist within the Traditional Music scene across Ireland and beyond and teaches a range of styles and genres to accompany traditional music using standard and open tuning.

Having started his musical journey back in the 70's learning his craft in Tom Kellys Bar on Short Strand, he soon left and lived in Paris playing with the group 'Dalriada' and touring through Europe.


On coming home, Barry played with several bands and worked with the Clancy Brothers, Chieftains and appeared on numerous TV and radio broadcasts.

Barry has been working with the school since shortly after its creation.


Adult Tin Whistle

Siobhan Murtagh

Siobhan Murtagh has been playing Irish traditional music with GSOTM for the past 20 years.


Playing both the tin whistle and the flute, Siobhan has represented GSOTM in various competitions, concerts and events over the years.


A qualified teacher and PhD Researcher, Siobhan set up GSOTM’s first Summer Scheme week for young people over 10 years ago which has become an established, popular, annual event in the GSOTM calendar.


Siobhan currently teaches both the Intermediate and Adult Beginner Tin Whistle classes.

Singing Workshops with Mairead Walls

Saturday 19 March 2022
Mayfield Village Hall, 38 Mayfield High St, Newtownabbey, BT36 4GX

Renowned Traditional singer Mairead Walls has been at the forefront of the singing community, organising singing sessions, teaching new singers and performing all over the country.

Originally from Dunloy, Co. Antrim, Mairead was taught Traditional Irish music by John Kennedy of Cullybackey.  

This founder member of the group 'Deanta' was awarded the 'Keeper of the Tradition' Award at the Ulster Traditional Singing Festival and the 'Contribution to Music' Award at the Gig n the Bann Festival in Portglenone.

Her debut CD of music and songs was released in February 2022: 'Mairead Walls, Songs & Tunes from Co. Antrim'.

1.30pm - 3.30pm Children's Singing Workshop

4pm - 6pm Adult's Singing Workshop

6pm - 8pm Singing Seisuin

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Monday 14 March 2022, 7pm
Barron Hall, Antrim Road, Glengormley

Flute and Fife

This hour long talk by Gary and Hazlett celebrates the beauty and musicality of all their melodic influences while advocating the value of maintaining the musical traditions diversity and accessibility to all for generations to come.

Co Antrim flute player Gary Duffy and Fermanagh born (Belfast based) Bouzouki/ Mandola player Hazlett Kerrs have been playing traditional Irish music for many decades. They met each other in the early years at numerous sessions around Belfast, eventually performing together on tour in Switzerland and regularly at various Belfast venues ever since.

Friday 18 March 2022, 7pm ***CANCELLED***
Barron Hall, Antrim Road, Glengormley


History of the Antrim Fiddle

A talk by Ballymena fiddle maker Johnny Murphy, on the history and development of Fiddles and style of playing in County Antrim.

Johnny Murphy is a 4th generation fiddle maker who started his craft at the tender age of 12, alongside playing traditional music.

Having been a professional fiddle player for a number of years, touring the world with Lord of the Dance, Rhythm of the Dance and a few others, he now teaches fiddle classes in his hometown. His aim is to develop the young, and the old, in Traditional Music in Ballymena and further afield.


The life of St Patrick in Music, Word and Song

Wednesday 16 March 2022, ***8pm - 9.30pm***
St Bernard’s Church, Antrim Road, Glengormley

An ecumenical service celebrating the life of St Patrick in music, song, dance and word.

Limited capacity. Book online via the St Mary's on the Hill Parish website.

Feast of St Patrick Mass

Thursday 17 March 2022, 11am Mass
St Bernard’s Church, Antrim Road, Glengormley

An ecumenical service marking the Feast of St Patrick with students from Glengormley School of Traditional Music providing the music for the service.

Limited capacity. Book online via the St Mary's on the Hill Parish website.

Traditional Music Sessions

Shared live music forms the heart of the Traditional Music and it is key to instrumental development for musicians to play in groups, listenting, harmonising, learning.

The regular session on a Sunday night, from 8pm onwards, takes place at The Crown & Shamrock on the A6 heading towards Templepatrick and it welcomes all traditional musicians.

We also hope to update this page closer to the TradFest with details of music sessions taking place which may be open to our younger participants too.

Traditional Music Family Fun Day

Sunday 20 March from 1pm - 5pm

Edmund Rice College, Hightown Road, Glengormley, sponsored by Madden's Bar and Arts & Business NI

Traditional Music Family Fun Day is a free one-day family event celebrating traditional music, song and dance.

It will include a Traditional Music stage, a participatory live session and Instrument Taster Sessions in all the musical instruments available for tuition in GSOTM.


PLUS we'll also have an introduction to Highland Piping workshop, a Bodhran Circle, dance demonstrations and Ceilidh, Children’s Art workshops, Face Painters, Children’s’ Storytelling, Magic Shows and much, much more!.

The Traditional Music Main Stage will include performances by musicians, teachers and pupils from Glengormley School of Traditional Music, the Belfast Wren Boys, and Music Service for Pipes and Drums as well as some other guest musicians.

Maddens Bar Advert

Glengormley School of Traditional Music wishes to thank all of our funders students, their families and the local, and wider, community for all their support over the last 20 years and look forward to the future development of Traditional Music in the years to come.

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