New exhibition opens ahead of special concert at Sliabh Sneacht Centre
“When you come to almost eighty you might as well say goodbye,” laughed Dinny McLaughlin.
The Buncrana musician was in reflective mood in sunny Drumfries last Friday morning, happily inspecting his new ‘Dinny’s Corner’, a permanent exhibition at the Sliabh Sneacht Heritage Centre.
Dinny, who celebrates a landmark 80th birthday next April, says he is ‘very honoured’ that his achievements have been recognised in the nostalgic display of old photographs, musical instruments and sheet music of original tunes, including the ‘White Harra Jig’.
There are various trinkets from the past – all donated to the centre by Dinny himself and carefully arranged; a pair of old hobnail boots – “we used to wear them going to school,” Dinny chirps – and a brass horse collar.
Mainly though ‘Dinny’s Corner’ is a celebration of Dinny’s music and of his achievements as a teacher, through which he helped to spread Irish traditional tunes across the country and across the world.
There are snapshots of some of Dinny’s past pupils, scores of photos of talented young musicians, many of whom went on to become All-Ireland and world champions.
“I just thought it would be nice to recognise some of my pupils over the years; I got in as many as I could. I wanted to make sure that they were included too so they can come and see themselves,” Dinny explained.
“This music is part of our heritage so it’s appropriate that it’s in a heritage centre here in the Sliabh Sneacht Centre. It’s lovely for me to be able to come in and look at all the faces; there are great memories for me in those pictures,” he added.
The exhibition, which Dinny says is ‘a great thing to leave behind’, includes a harp, bought in the 1970s in Walton’s, Dublin and used to teach Brenda Barron, as well as a flute.
Of course there is a fiddle. And a photo of the late Pat Mulhern, Dinny’s first fiddle teacher, who lived nearby.
Unusually there is also a didgeridoo, which Dinny claims he can play!
More appropriately, there is an old photo of his mother and father, Mary McCarron and James McLaughlin, who first met at the former Drumfries NS, now the site of the Sliabh Sneacht Centre.
Aside from the exhibition, Dinny is also extending an invitation to all his past pupils to join him for a night of music in the Sliabh Sneacht Centre on Sunday, October 26 next.
Sliabh Sneacht Centre manager Gabriel Doherty said ‘Dinny’s Corner’, situated in the Tip O’Neill suite, is a fantastic addition to the new building.
Gabriel is a former pupil of Dinny’s himself and delighted to now be in a position to honour the enduring Buncrana musician.
“It’s fantastic. Dinny is known in music circles all around the world and it’s great to see him get a little bit of recognition for that. We could easily have filled an entire room with all the pupils that he has taught over the years,” he said.
“Year after year Dinny produced so many talented musicians in Inishowen. He would go away with a group and come back with a heap of All-Ireland and world titles. Since he has retired, there haven’t been so many winners. I think people are now realising that what Dinny achieved was amazing,” Gabriel added.
Revealing details of the upcoming concert tribute to Dinny, Gabriel said the Sliabh Sneacht committee was keen to thank the local musician, who has already played at a number of events in the centre.
Dinny McLaughlin and the ‘Ark of Tides’ will play a special concert at the Sliabh Sneacht Centre on Sunday, October 26 from 8-10pm. There will also be guest performances from Brian Porter, Bernard Doherty, Roisin Harkin-Graham, Tracy McGrory, Chloe McCarron and the Harkin School of Dancing among others. Admission is €10 with everyone welcome.