On New Years Day 2014 people started gathering in Koroit for the Lake School of Celtic Music, Song and Dance. This year there was even an Irish flavour to the weather that was cool and windy and sometimes wet. People with musical instruments on their backs strode around the town and Felix Meagher, the Director of the Festival could often be seen with phone to ear although in this photo he is carrying supplies from the supermarket.It was good for Frank to be able to go out the front and bump into Mary from a town near where he lived in Ireland
As residents in the town we were happy to provide accommodation for two of the participants, Eamon the Irish language tutor and Joan who runs the raffle with first prize two tickets to
the Port Fairy Folk Festival, and also gives a spoons workshop.
Luckily those two had plenty of warm clothes as I hope the many people camping in the caravan park did.
I decided to do the advanced bodhran classes with Leamon Chambers in the primary school wondering if I’d cope with these; but I needn’t have worried. In the late afternoons I played my bodhran in the African music group with Andy Rigby in the lovely Scout hall, once a beautiful old church. Amazing sounds echoed in this space. I decided not to try and fit in any other classes other that a private lesson in spoons at the kitchen table with Joan. I made a short instructional video on my smart phone of this.
There was a choice of entertainment in the evenings. The really dedicated could make music at late night sessions at Senior Cits almost to dawn I believe. We went to the Commercial to hear and play music on two nights, would have liked to go out to Kirkstall Pub where they erected a marquee for the overflow of people.
Here Cristy Cooney of the Cobbers sings at the Commercial and Cath Conolly’s harp music was exquisite. .
The Healing House up the road was the gallery for Mem Taberner’s artworks of Tower Hill, one of which was the cover picture of the program. The exhibition was opened by the lovely Lake School chaplain, David O’Brien.
This was also the venue for the pleasant Blues Night hosted by our old friend from Belgrave, Lou Hesterman, when many favourite songs were played and sometimes sung. In the late mornings rollicking pub songs, taught by Cristy Cooney, could be heard from the same venue.
The historic Mickey Bourke’s Hotel was the venue for some sessions on the veranda and for the Spud Poets’ Night hosted by the well known bush poet from Ararat, Colin Driscoll. Spud Poets was inspired by the poem of well known local, Mary Fiorini, ‘The Humble Spud’, that we have heard Mary recite countless times. Here is Mary in the pub that she was born in. The occasion grew to a competition with a prize of $1,000 that Frank won a few years ago with his poem about an Irish gypsy wake,’Old Casey’. I also was inspired to enter writing a song to Mary McKillop before she was canonized and one about my famous great great great uncle, Daniel O’Connell. No prize nowadays so I guess there is not quite the same pressure to write a poem to recite, something I don’t much enjoy nowadays. Frank is not fond of performance either although he at least has written hundreds of poems, so we haven’t taken part these last two years for one reason or another, but I believe it was a wonderful night.
St Brigid’s Crossley is a popular out of town venue. It is the old Catholic Church that the people struggled to save as a community centre. The story of this wonderful achievement is told in Regina Lane’s book that was launched at the Lake School. The Lake School Singers provided accompaniment. A ceilidhe complete with Irish dance taught by Marie Brouder and that looked like this, was held.
Dancers were dressed more grandly though as it was an op shop ball. Marie is the Legend of the Lake this year.
The lovely old theatre in the middle of Koroit was of course a popular venue. On late Saturday afternoon Joan’s spoons workshop was in the foyer. In the evening there was a performance people paid a little to attend, a concert by the talented group from Melbourne, ‘Saiorse’. We certainly enjoyed this night.
The hall was transformed for the Grand Ceildhe on Monday night when audience arrived with refreshments to enjoy at the decorated tables and most of the class participants performed with their groups. The celebrations were opened with a Toast to the Celts in Irish by our clever guest Eamon.
And The final day was rather more laid back after the Big Tune and school photo shoot outside the Historical Society. Back to the hall for the young Stars of the Lake
And then the inspiring Songwriters’ Concert.
I loved Jim Lawrence’s song about a blackbird.
Here are several of the tired but happy participants outside the Historical Society cottage on the final day of the 2014 Lake School–
The final get together was in he evening with a slow session hosted by Mark and Lisa McDonnell. My photo was taken that night and sure enough appeared in The Moyne Gazette a couple of weeks later, a reminder of yet another wonderful Lake School.