THE CALLING JAN 16-26 2020 – Milwaukee Irish Fest on Tour!

Posted on 27th January 2020

Almost all of our programs are academic, and have a syllabus we follow- but occasionally we do some programs that are more culturally focused, and are open to all adults and not college-based. One of our favourite annual trips is our January ‘CALLING’ which is open to anyone from anywhere, – it’s built around two cultural events- Atlantic Irish Fest in Donegal, and Temple Bar Tradfest in Dublin.

We began this program in partnership with the Milwaukee Irish Fest, and Templebar Tradfest. Most, but not all of our participants enjoy the Milwaukee Irish Fest each year, and want to visit Ireland. They want culture, learning and music. So that’s what they get! This was year 2, and we had a lot of craic once more…

After a fun overnight in Dublin, complete with dinner in the Old Storehouse, and some Irish dancing, we made our way to the beautiful Northwest. We had a quick visit to Tullan Strand to catch the beautiful January sunset after our travels from Dublin via Lough Crew Megaliths and Nelly’s kitchen, and finished the first evening with a wonderful performance by The Henry Girls.

On day 2, our Milwaukee group enjoyed a history talk about the Ulster Plantation and the Flight of the Earls, preparing for a visit to Donegal Castle. Because of the fine weather, we decided to add in a quick visit to Siabh Liag, and due to unexpected circumstances, found ourselves in Dunkineely, where we were wonderfully hosted by the good folk in McLaughlin’s pub- they not only provided us with drinks, but a guitar for Niamh and two singing barmen! We made it to the cliffs in time for an amazing sunset, and then to Killybegs for an amazing meal at the Boathouse Restaurant. And then home to 51 Main Street pub for an Erdini Gig and a delightful comic interlude from Maura Logue. Sweet! And happy anniversary Ruth and Sandy x

On day 3, our history talk was about an Gorta Mór, the Irish ‘Famine’ and subsequent emigration from Ireland to the U.S.  We visited famine sites and landlord estates in the area, finishing with lunch at Belleek Pottery Visitor Center. In the afternoon, we had some folks go horse riding across the Bundoran dunes, and some browsed around the town and contemplated the golf course. Our music session tonight was by the brilliant Tumbling Paddies.

Day4- our talk was all about Northen Ireland post partition, and our trip was to the beautiful city of Derry- thank you to John Kelly at the Museum of Free Derry and The Bogside Artists Ireland for their work, it was a moving and impactful experience. We returned home for the finale gig- the inimitable Johnny Gallagher and the Boxtie Band, brilliant as always. And delighted to have special appearance by the legendary Sean Gallagher.

Our final talk on day five was about modern Ireland, particularly the history of women in the Irish Republic. We then left for Dublin, visiting Drumcliffe and  Yeats Country on our way to Temple Bar TradFest

Serendipity! We leave Bundoran to bring our  folks to Tradfest, and who’s playing in the Olympia to kick it all off? The fabulous @screamingorphans from Bundoran! Up Donegal!  The rest of the weekend was as chosen by each of our participants – the selection of gigs, performances and sessions was unbelievable. A fantastic time was had by all.

ISAI are proud to work with the Milwaukee Irish Festival and Templebar Tradfest to make the January Donegal/Dublin cultural trip work – Thank you Mike Mitchell, Colleen Kennedy from Milwaukee Irish Fest and Martin Harte & Claudine Murray from Temple Bar TradFest – Our 2020 Program was another great success, with wonderful visitors and great craic in Donegal. 💕 See you 2021! Here are some pics!