Ceol Cascadia is a Seattle-based Irish music organization dedicated to preservation and nurturing of Irish traditional music and culture. Ceol means “music” in Old Irish language. This summer, Randal Bays, renowned Irish musician and Founder/Program Director of Ceol Cascadia, assembled an impressive line-up of Irish music teachers and students from around the world for the first annual Irish Music Week at Camp Casey Conference Center.
The event was based on another very popular Irish music event that Bays founded and directed for over a decade, before it came to an end two years ago. The new organization, founded last year, is part of the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle. Support from the Club enabled Bays to re-launch the event in the new location.
Irish Music Week brings together musicians from around the world who connect over Irish heritage and play songs on instruments like the fiddle, flute, penny whistle and concertina. Days are filled with a wide variety of classroom sessions and evenings with concerts and dancing.
When he set about searching for a place to host the event, Bays says he was looking for a facility with lodging for a large number of people, meal service, classrooms and auditorium space. Camp Casey Conference Center provided a great fit for the group.
“We looked all over the Northwest and we felt this was the closest in character to everything we wanted, ” Bays said. “A lot of our students come from inland places, so they were all delighted to walk by the water.”
CEOL Cascadia’s Irish Music Week is an immersion program that helps students feel more intimately connected to the history, culture and sounds of Ireland. At the end of the week the students and teachers used Auditorium A for their Farewell Concert. It was helpful that the group had access to a space that could accommodate a very large group, as they had many spectators attend from Seattle and surrounding areas, Bays said.
“Homegrown, local, family music is still very much alive in Ireland, but you don’t get a glimpse of it unless you go there,” Bays said. “We try to give people a taste of what it’s like to be in the midst of that traditional Irish music culture.”