McDonnell's Traditional Irish Music Slow Session

January-March 2015

Photographs of our Monday night slow sessions at the Corkman Irish Pub.


Change in the Number of Slow Sessions per Month in 2015
We have been running Irish slow session in Melbourne once a week, 10 months a year for over a decade. Due to more demands on our time this year we have decided to have only 2 sessions a month at the Corkman Pub on Monday nights.  The first Monday of every month will be a Beginner slow session and the second Monday of every month will be an Intermediate slow session.  Please look at the Time and Place page of this website to check which type of session is being held on which week.
Tablet accordion app

Practice and play a musical instrument on your tablet and smart phone.

Just when you thought that the new smart phones and tablets had reached their pinnacle of usefulness along comes some pretty impressive applications that allow you to play many Celtic musical instruments including bagpipes, accordions, guitars, drums, flutes, whistles and even concertinas on our portable electronic devices.  I suggest that you look at Michael Eskin’s website on Traditional Music Instrument Apps which demonstrates the current state of the art in smart phone and tablet musical instruments.  They are only going to get better in the future. The current apps are very limited and are typically a far cry from the real instruments we love playing, but in a strange way they feel familiar in the hand and to the ear.  Because they are really inexpensive (the app not the tablet or phone) compared to the real thing, they allow players to try different instruments or carry a practice one to the park, school or work in order to play tunes any time you feel the urge, especially when you wear headphones.  I suspect we will see more smart phone and tablet bands as well as more events using these instruments at folk festivals in the future.  Maybe it will stimulate our kids to play musical instruments and not just games. If you want to impress your family, friends or fellow commuters, I highly recommend mastering a few tunes on your smart phone or tablet instrument and share the fun.

My Ireland Vol 1 book cover

Tony O’Rourke has published a book entitled ‘My Ireland Vol.1’ that includes a collection of 101 Irish tunes with sheet music and guitar chords.  Tony sent me this note which I would like to share with you: ‘The title of the book is “My Ireland Vol.1”. It contains 101 Irish tunes and comes with a CD in MP3 format of each tune played through twice at a moderate tempo. I recorded each tune on my new Clareen Banjo and there is overdubbed guitar accompaniment. The playing of the tunes adheres strictly to the sheet music as I wanted this to be a reference book rather than a concert, and the sheet music contains guitar chords.  The books are for sale for $20 + $5 postage. To get more information or purchase the book send an email by clicking on Tony O’Rourke   Click here to download example of sheet music Christmas Eve & Coalminer’s Reel MP3 of Coalminer’s Reel

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Celtic Music Events


5 March 2015 Sharon Shannon with Tolka 8:00pm @ the Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Adults $50 (Conc $42) + booking fee of $2.20 / ticket. From Festival program: “Sharon Shannon has music at her fingertips….literally! As an accordionist she has achieved legendary status throughout the world and has made the much-maligned accordion ‘cool’ in her home country. A festival favourite, Shannon is renowned for her collaborations (not just in Irish traditional music) traversing Cajun, Hip Hop, Country, Classical and Rap genres, spreading her appeal far and wide”. Tolka is a local Australia group that first formed at the Lake School in Koroit several years ago.  Over the last year they have been successfully gathering a following fans in Ireland. Check out the Festival website:

6-9 March 2015 Port Fairy Folk Festival.  One of the most highly regarded folk festivals in Australia. Lots of great performers this year including Celtic musicians from Australia and around the world including Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas • Scotland/USA, Kieran O’Connell & Shanakee • Australia, Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson • Scotland. Sharon Shannon Band • Ireland; Sinéad O’Connor • Ireland, The Gloaming •Ireland and Trouble In The Kitchen • Australia.  The festival is just loaded with a diversity of high quality performers from Australia and around the world. Check out their website:

9 March 2015. Trouble In The Kitchen with Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, 8.00pm Monday 9 March, Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick. $35 (Conc. $30) + booking fee of $2.20 / ticket. From Festival Program “Acclaimed as one of the most exciting and innovative trad-folk acts playing today, Trouble in the Kitchen have earned their reputation as world class performers of traditional Irish music. With a versatile line-up fusing flute and fiddle with driving guitar and bouzouki, it’s the energy of their live shows that sets Trouble apart. At the forefront of Irish music in Australia, they have played the length and breadth of the country, featuring regularly at all major folk festivals and becoming audience favourites along the way.” Go to the Festival website for additional information

10 March 2015 Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas with Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club. 8:00 pm. Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick; Adult $46.50 (Conc. $40). From the Festival website: “The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. Fraser has a concert and recording career spanning 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic). Fraser has been sponsored by the British Council to represent Scotland’s music internationally, and received the Scottish Heritage Centre Service Award for outstanding contributions to Scottish culture and traditions. Natalie Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn’t even born when Alasdair was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.This concert will be an enchanting evening of the ancient repertoire of traditional Scottish fiddle music. From the wild tunes of the west highlands; the beautiful melodies of the lowlands to the magical readings of the strathspey and reels of the North East traditions.” For more information check out the Festival website:

12 March 2015. Ross & Jarlath,  8.00pm Thursday 12 March, The Spotted Mallard. 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Adults $45 (Conc $38) + booking fee of $2.20 / ticket.  From the Festival Program- The most dynamic double-act on the Celtic scene, the Scottish/Irish piping duo of Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson have won fans worldwide with their debut album, Partners in Crime, and their blistering live performances.Jarlath Henderson is a three time All-Ireland Champion Uilleann Piper, and the first Irish musician to win the prestigious title of BBC Young Folk Musician Of The Year. Ross Ainslie, a former member of the Grade 1 Vale Of Atholl Pipe Band, has performed with Flook, Dougie Maclean and Salsa Celtica.Bursting with energy, Ross & Jarlath will ignite the Spotted Mallard with a vibrant mix of new and original compositions, along with traditional tunes from the Highlands to the peatlands.” For more information go to the Festival website:

tiepanelz  20 February 2015, The Celtic Tenors. 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm, Ormond Hall, 557 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.  Direct from Ireland, The Celtic Tenors, made up of Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson, will head to Australia for their first Australian tour for two exclusive and intimate performances in support of the trio’s new album. For additional information check out this website:; or check out the venue