This year the Maid of the Mill Tradfest will take place between 5th – 7th April and will honour local musician and townsman Stephen McMullen.
Registration for the masterclasses is now open. Places are limited and booking is essential. Contact us today to secure your place.
Call / WhatsApp: +44 77 8619 0459
Cost is only £20 per student and families with 3 or more students qualify for a concession rate.
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2023 Maid of the Mill Tradfest
In 2023 the Maid of the Mill Tradfest took place between 14th – 16th April and was a tribute to world reknown singer, Sarah Makem – (mother of Tommy Makem).
SARAH MAKEM, SONG COLLECTOR
Tribute by David Hammond
Sarah Makem was born in Keady, Co Armagh in the year 1900. She was a singer all her life, an inheritor of a family tradition, a repository of over 400 songs, I suppose, that tells us about the events of ordinary people in this part of Ireland over the last four centuries. Her songs derive from the three elements that are strongest in Ulster – the Irish, the Scotch and the English, elements that account for a lot of our distress but, at the same time, provide a rich and fascinating backdrop to our lives.
Singing came naturally to her, as easy as breathing. The voice was low in pitch, there was an assurance with the run of a line of poetry, she had the knack of telling a story, and something that is less easy to describe, she had a gift for lifting the voice in some kind of effortless way, some celebration.
Sarah & Jack Makem
Sarah Makem had tender love songs, desolate songs of parting, songs of occupation, long and beautiful ballads, small songs about local happenings that were rescued from the prosaic by their authentic detail and the enlivenment of her voice. She had a smile that lit up her countenance and the whole company. She was gentle and lively and like the best of her kind anywhere in Ireland, intelligent and well informed, a believer in tradition but never a slave to the merely conventional. You always felt the better for an evening in her company enriched by her warmth and a life giving energy. She had a reverence for the past, a kinship with those who had gone before, an awareness of how much the present is woven into the past. When you entered the house in Keady and met Sarah and Peter you knew that everything was there to be shared with you.
Away back in the fifties, when everyone thought that her kind of music was old hat and, even worse, a low class culture, she aroused these islands every Sunday morning in a BBC radio programme. It was a series that lasted for several years, put together by men like Sean O’Boyle, Seamus Ennis, Peter Kennedy, and it was probably responsible for the rebirth of traditional music.
It was called ‘As I roved out’ and it took its title from the song that Sarah sang to introduce each programme.
‘As I roved out on a May morning, on a May morning right early
I met my love upon the way, O Lord but she was early’