Musicians on stage playing at a traditional Irish music at a concert

History of Ceol Aneas

The sole aim of the school is to facilitate musicians' learning and playing of Irish Traditional Music.

How it all started

Well... one night in May 2000 Bob Bickerton showed up at a session in Kitty O'Sheas Pub, Wellington. After a few tunes we were having a chat and Bob said "Wouldn't it be grand to get all the Wooden Flute Players together for a weekend of learning / teaching / playing tunes?"

musicians at a traditional Irish music session in a bar in Nelson

And then ... the first Nelson Flute School.

Shortly afterwards, having sorted out the details over a drink, 20 flute students from all over New Zealand attended the first Nelson Flute School. Like an obscure cult we huddled in a room and absorbed ourselves in flute-playing. Alan Docherty was the Schools first tutor. He has since gone on to play with the popular band Grada.

Festival expands to include other instruments

Since then the School has expanded to include a range of instruments and to cater for the needs of a growing number of students. In 2003, over seventy students from across New Zealand and overseas attended classes in Wooden Flute, Fiddle, Bouzouki and Concertina.

In 2004 the School was delighted to join forces with the New Zealand Uilleann Pipers in bringing Lunasa to New Zealand. We had close to 120 students in 2004 for classes in Flute, Fiddle, Uilleann Pipes, Whistle, Guitar and Bouzouki.

Irish music carries a significant cultural resonance in NZ

New Zealand has a large number of people for whom Irish music carries a significant cultural resonance. Attendance at the school's classes concerts and sessions allows students to develop musically and to express themselves artistically, tapping into a rich and deep culture that enriches both the individuals and New Zealand society.

The school is modelled on the Irish Summer School formats of Miltown Malbay, Tubbercurry and Drumshambo. It offers a series of master class and performance opportunities to attendees to enhance both their own music practice as well as the cultural and artistic landscape of this country with its strong Irish links.
"I was particularly impressed by the quality of people attending the event. While there was a wide variety of age levels and musical experience among those in attendance, I would have to say that I found the musicians to be among the most genuinely interested and open to learning and considering new ideas, and were among the least jaded as I've ever encountered.

The classes, sessions, and social gatherings at the Nelson Flute Weekend were a breath of fresh air. I can only hope that those in attendance had the same feeling about it being a pretty magical weekend."
Chris Norman

In the past we have enjoyed meeting & learning from:

2023 - Sorcha Costello, Conor Connolly, Pádraig Ó Dubhghaill, Pamela Queally, Beth McCracken, Jody Moran, Brendyn Montgomery, Áine Gallagher, Jack Brennan, Helen Stonehouse

2022 - Bob McNeill, Brendyn Montgomery, Duncan Davidson, Evey McAuliffe, James McNamara, Karen Reid, Rennie Pearson, Richard Tait, Kris Nielsen, Pete Egli, Sean Connolly, Steve McGlone, Helen Stonehouse.

2021 - Rob Zielinski, Adam Costa, Rennie Pearson, Kara Dawson, Alex Davidson, Evey McAuliffe, Steve McGlone, Bob McNeill.

2020 - Festival Cancelled due to COVID-19. Online Festival: Steph Geremia, Ben Gunnery, Muireann Banks, Dara O'Coisdealbha.

2019 - Eileen O'Brien, Mary MacNamara, Angela Usher, Declan Simpson, Dougal Adams, Pat Higgins, Caleb Chia.

2018 - Dermot Byrne, Brid Harper, Rob Zielinski, Beth McCracken, Mairtin Staunton, Maggie Carty, Jody Moran, Kate Burke.

2017 - Kevin Crawford, Luke Plumb, Daire Mulhern, Patrick Doocey, Colin Farrell, Ben Stephenson, Ado Barker.

2016 - John McEvoy, John Wynne, Cian Kissane, Jem Dunlop, Dougal Adams, Susan Miller.

2015 - Aoife Granville, Níall Ó Beaglaoich, Louise Phelan, Liam O'Brian, Ben Stephenson, Brendyn Montomgery.

2014 - Louise Mulcahy, Michelle Mulcahy, Mick Mulcahy, Nathan Gourley, Christina Dolphin, Luke Plumb, Bob McNeill, Barry McDonald

2013 - Alan Doherty, Tola Custy, Gerry Paul, Jody Moran, Seamus Breathnach, Adam Guyton

2012 - Conal O'Grada, Benny McCarthy, Jon Sanders, Cliodhna Costello, Brendyn Montgomery Alex Davidson, Anna Dunwoodie

2011 - Siobhan O'Donnell, Anne-Marie Grogan, Bob McNeill, Kit Joyce, Alex Borwick, Evey McAuliffe, Fiachra O'Regan and Sophie Lavoie

2010 - Beoga who are Damien McKee, Seán Óg Graham, Niamh Dunne, Liam Bradley and Eamon Murray. Also Mary McEvilly, Ruairi McGorman, Steve McGlone and Brendyn Montgomery.

2009 - Stephen Doherty and David Doocey Grada, John Meredith, Adrian Barker, Alex Davidson, Duncan Davidson, Jim Murray

2008 - Muireann Nic Amhlaiobh, Duncan Davidson, Kate Burke, Adrian Barker, Beth McCraken, Barrie McDonald, Bob Bickerton, Billy Mag Fhloinn

2007 - Kevin Burke, Jon Sanders, Fred Graham and Claire Fitzpatrick Tulca Mor, Pat Higgins, Alex Davidson, Brendyn Montgomery

2006 - Hammy Hamilton , Marie McHugh, Trouble in the Kitchen (Adrian Barker, Ben Stephenson, Caroline Frawley, Kate Burke, Joe Ferguson), Duncan Davidson, Brendyn Montgomery

2005 - John Carty , June McCormack, Michael Rooney , Adrian Barker, Joe Ferguson, Duncan Davidson, Davy Stuart , Jimmy Young

2004 - Lunasa (Sean Smyth, Cillian Vallely, Kevin Crawford, Donogh Henessey, Trevor Hutchinson), David Kidron, Brendyn Montgomery , Bob McNeill, Barrie McDonald

2003 - June NiChormaic, Michael Rooney , David Kidron and Bob McNeill

2002 - Chris Norman & Andy Thurston

2001 - June McCormack & Michael Rooney

2000 - Alan Doherty

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Early bird ends: 21 Apr 2024
Instrumental classes are designed for intermediate and advanced students.