Our first Songways Donegal singing week in was held in July 2019 at the Song House, an inspirational retreat centre nestled in the foothills of Muckish mountain in the wilds of the Gaeltacht in the north west of Ireland.
The group of 12 singers sang each morning led by Jane Harris, Director of Songways. Jane taught a rich variety of songs to reflect the natural world around us, including her own compositions Be Free and Layer upon Layer of Memories. We were privileged to have a harpist in our group who played with Jane on her fiddle for several songs.
In the afternoons we explored the wild Atlantic coast, stunning white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, rivers and historic sites – and sang our songs there too. In the evenings we enjoyed visits from a renowned Gaelic poet, a superb traditional Gaelic sean nos singer and other local singers and musicians and joined fabulous traditional music sessions, with Jane playing her fiddle with local musicians and all of us sharing our songs.
What a wonderful week we had singing at the Song House in Donegal… what a place! Great group of singers who learned whole host of songs reflecting the wild beauty around us. Fabulous to join in the traditional pub music sessions for which Donegal is renowned – a treat for me to play my fiddle with local musicians and for us all to share our songs. Stunning beaches, mountains, ever changing light, such friendly locals, so much laughter, good food and of course Guinness too. We will be back…!
We plan to run another Songways singing week at the Song House in 2021. Please join our mailing list to ensure you receive details,
THE SONG HOUSE
The Song House lies in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht – an area steeped in myth, tradition, history and archaeology, where Irish is commonly spoken. It has wild and expansive Atlantic sandy beaches on one side and the Derryveagh mountain range on the other, with superb views of Muckish mountain to the east.
The Song House has a beautiful singing room overlooking Muckish mountain and a well-equipped, cosy kitchen/dining room with open fire. There is also a large organic garden, planted with many herbs, shrubs and fruit bushes.
Our host, Candy Verney, made us extremely welcome and enabled the connections with the wonderful local people.
JANE HARRIS is an experienced choir leader and Director of Songways, based in Bath. She leads singing workshops and retreats in beautiful places and three thriving choirs. She has a clear, inclusive and enabling teaching style, uncovering the best in singers’ voices and drawing people together with heartfelt, resonant singing. Jane teaches by ear and loves to explore songs in different ways to enrich and deepen the singing experience. She also writes harmony songs, often inspired by the natural world, and plays the fiddle.
Jane explains the connection with Candy Verney, owner of The Song House:
I first met Candy in 2005 when I joined Singing in the Round in Bradford on Avon. Having sung in classical choirs for many years, it was exciting to discover a freer style of singing, to layer up harmonies by ear and to experience songs from a wide range of different harmony singing traditions… this was singing that went straight to my heart.
I went on to train as a choir leader with Candy and founded Songways in 2009. I was thrilled to lead a 2019 week singing at The Song House and look forward to our next visit.