Author Archive | Kevin Purcell

Irish Summer Music Schools

Just a quick post to give dates and details of the most famous Irish Music Summer Schools that people have been asking me about.  Also if you’re travelling to Ireland this Summer, then check out this list and dates of music festivals put together by Bob, an Aussie fiddler living in Ireland:



Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy

7 – 15 July 2018

is a week-long summer school in traditional music and set dance held annually at Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. After a slow start it gathered momentum to become the premium music school in the country with now over 1200 students each year. Fiddle alone attracts 450 students and there are 26 tutors. The first and biggest of such events, it commemorates the town’s best-known uilleann piper, Willie Clancy, and has been running since just after his death in 1973.

South Sligo Summer School logo

7 – 15 July 2018



Joe Mooney Summer School

21 – 28 July 2018




Scoil Acla

28 July – 4 August 2018

Feakle Festival

8 – 13 August 2018

The Importance of Field Work in Writing Musicals

cgcrop8I have always wondered whether field research in a writing a new musical was ultimately warranted?  I know the great American musical theatre songwriter, Stephen Schwartz, swears by the benefits of doing so – and it certainly seems to have worked for the great man himself.

Therefore, it should come as no little surprise I have decided that, at least for this project, a research trip to areas of Ireland is a necessity. So I am heading off to do just that in the middle of June after I have fulfilled my requisite obligations in the UK for this year.

The imperative for this trip comes from finishing reading two quite disparate approaches to the societal history of Ireland.  The two books in question are ‘In Search of Ireland’ (1930) by H. V. Morton, and the far better known ‘Ireland – A Novel’ (2004) by that truly marvellous storyteller – Frank Delaney. Continue Reading →

And We’re (Almost) Back

cgcrop11Well, hello.  I suppose you’ve been wondering whiy we’ve been absent for awhile?  2017 saw some significant changes in the forward planning and personnel attached to the Musical for myriad reasons.  Some of the creative team on this project are also working on The Stranger from Seville – a musical theatre adaptation of the novel, ‘The Mapmaker’s Opera’ by Spanish/Canadian author, Béa Gonzalez.  This project had to take some precedence in the latter half of 2017 to meet some forthcoming deadlines.

The musical stage adaptation of Castle Gillian, however, is very much alive and well.  In fact we will have some exciting news about our revised Creative Team in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

Song #1: Hear Me, God

When Kate, Victor and Kevin first decided to embark on adapting Maurice Walsh’s Castle Gillian for the musical stage, they made clear decisions that they would write songs for particular artists in-mind, essentially placing them in the role of the characters from the story.

From the outset, Kevin was adamant that “the perfect person” for the role of young Gillian (Gill) Morris had to be New York Broadway actor-singer, Michael McCorry Rose.

So for this, the first song to be released from the show, Kevin and Michael went into the studio and recorded Gill’s 11th-hour number from Act II entitled, ‘Hear Me, God‘.

STORYLINE: Close to the the deadline on the foreclosure on Castle Gillian, wherein it will become the property of the avaricious and despicable Garrett Ward; and with that eventuality, the likelihood that his sister, Mary Morris being forced into marrying Ward to avert the loss of the once famous racing stables from the family, Gill implores God – whom he has ceased to believe exists from atrocities witnessed during his service in WWII – to answer “one last prayer”.

Michael_McCorry_Rose_2Michael McCorry Rose is a Broadway actor most recently seen in the Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder.  Prior to that, he starred as “Fiyero” in the smash hit musical, Wicked. In New York, Michael has appeared in concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall, Symphony Space, Birdland and Feinstein’s/54 Below.

Along with Karl Scully and David O’Leary, Michael is part of the group Tri: The New Irish Tenors. He regularly appears in concert with Academy, Grammy and Tony Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame), their most recent concert was filmed for PBS’s Great American Songbook Concert Series at NJPAC and aired in the summer of 2016. It was recently nominated for a 2017 Regional Emmy Award.

Michael has performed with symphonies and concert orchestras across the United States, most recently starring in a symphonic concert of Chess with the Temecula Valley Symphony in California. Internationally, Michael has performed in concert at the Adelaide Music Festival in Australia, for the U.S. State Department in Nairobi, Kenya and in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His theatrical credits include roles at regional theaters such as The Paper Mill Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theater, Primary Stages, Capital Repertory Theater and Project Shaw in New York City. Originally from San Diego, he holds a B.A. in Mass Communication Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he appeared in Carol Burnett’s directorial debut of Once Upon A Mattress.

The Story Begins…..

castle gillian picture excerpt“Sylvia Gayne, my cousin thrice-removed, and myself had been quarelling once again.”

And so begins Castle Gillian, perhaps the least known of Maurice Walsh’s Irish novels? Still, with the possible exception of The Key Above The Door and The Small Dark Man, literary admirers worldwide of Walsh’s romance novels regard Castle Gillian (1948) as the author’s most sublime narrative achievement.

It is a novel without a single blemish of narrative construction or stylistic inconsistency.  It is, simply put, a masterpiece in storytelling by Ireland’s most formidable storyteller from the first half of the 20th-Century.  Ernest Hemingway supposedly, when on a visit to New York, remarked that he regarded Walsh as the best storyteller in the world.

Greater recognition for Castle Gillian and much of Walsh’s considerable literary output could be said to have been inadvertently thwarted by the remarkable and lasting success of John Ford’s 1952 film adaptation of The Quiet Man. The film adaptation immediately became eponymous with an idea of Ireland that, even today, is hard dissuade Americans ever really existed.  Even today, The Quiet Man is still watched by hundreds of thousands of Irish Americans every year on St. Patrick’s Day as part of that unique festive ritual.  Based on this legacy alone, it is sometimes hard to understand why more of Walsh’s stories have failed to materialize into cinematic adaptations?

The shadow of The Quiet Man looms large too from the perspective of stage adaptations of Walsh’s work. A Broadway musical of this story was produced in 1961. It was not a success and lasted only 68 performances. For a literary and cinematic property with such public awareness at the time, it seems remarkable that that the producers of the musical chose to not call it ‘The Quiet Man’, but Donnybrook.

Of particular relevance to us, and for which we are immensely grateful, the Estate of Maurice Walsh has not granted another underlying right for a musical stage adaptation to any of the author’s novels since 1961 – until now!

For all of the enduring success of The Quiet Man on film, Castle Gillian is the greater story. Inevitably it must be so, as The Quiet Man is only an episode (albeit a self-contained short story) from a dark and troubling novel entitled Green Rushes penned by Walsh in 1935 (although ‘The Quiet Man’ was first published separately as a short story in 1933).

Castle Gillian is a story of a once famous Irish racing stable fallen on hard times; it is about a lame horse named ‘Benbecula’ whose lameness is not terminal; about the travelers (we will not call them ‘Gypsies’) whose wisdom and countenance – as always in Walsh’s stories – is prescient. It is about some young people too, who, liking each other a lot, take an interminable time to come to this realization.  Oh, yes, and then there is a drunk (a great, but fallen man if ever there was) an unlikeable, would-be, new owner of ‘Castle Gillian’ (a polite description) intent on both a horse and the fallen man’s daughter…and several equally important characters with whom to make your acquaintance.

Continue Reading →