Sharon Shannon to open NUI Galway Arts in Action programme to launch her new partnership with Music degree

Sharon Shannon
Feb 02 2021 Posted: 09:11 GMT

Distinguished Galway accordion player, Sharon Shannon along with guitarist Jim Murray, will open NUI Galway’s 2021 Arts in Action programme with a free concert online on Wednesday, 17 February at 1pm to launch her new partnership with NUI Galway’s Music degree.

The concert will be presented as the 2021 Jean Ritchie Lecture and will celebrate Shannon’s musical virtuosity as well as the future potential arising from her engagement with NUI Galway's Music students as the next generation of emerging artists.

The new partnership entails Sharon Shannon delivering a series of masterclasses that look at different facets of the creation, performance and production of traditional Irish music along with her long-time collaborator, Irish-American fiddle player, Win Horan. These masterclasses will be used as part of the teaching of traditional music modules within the new BA in Music. Sharon and Win will follow up the masterclasses with six live workshops per year, in which they will discuss traditional Irish music directly with the students.

This will also be the first Arts in Action programme to be presented following the death of the programme’s founding director and curator, Mary McPartlan, the accomplished folk singer and educator, in spring 2020. In celebration of McPartlan, the theme of this limited 2021 programme is 'art as legacy', and it features traditional and classical music, drama, performance and literary-focused events. The programme, which runs from February to May, reflects specifically on the legacy left by Mary McPartlan as the programme draws on many of her frequent collaborators and the university/Arts in Action partnership with Music for Galway.

The entire programme will be presented online free of charge providing viewers nationally and internationally a chance to share in this unique Arts in Action programme. The range of art forms and artists represented within the Arts in Action programme reflects the diversity and strength of the creative arts at NUI Galway, including the work of staff. Acclaimed novelist Mike McCormack and internationally recognised digital artist EL Putnam who lecture in English and Digital Media at NUI Galway will contribute a new work to the programme in April.

Speaking about the new partnership with NUI Galway and Arts in Action programme, Sharon Shannon, says: “I’m delighted to be involved with the Music Department, and am really excited about sharing my music with the students at NUI Galway via the online masterclass series we have developed. It’s also a great honour to perform along with Jim Murray in celebrating Arts in Action in 2021 and to help re-launch the late Mary McPartlan’s great series.”

Head of Music at NUI Galway, Dr Aidan Thomson, says: “I am thrilled that our Music students will have the opportunity to work with a musician of the calibre of Sharon Shannon. Galway has a rich history of traditional music, and it is wonderful that one of its greatest exponents should be able to share her expertise with our students, and in turn greatly enhance their learning. The next three years will be a very exciting time for the BA in Music.”

Interim Arts in Action Artistic Director, Dr Charlotte McIvor, says: “Celebrating Arts in Action, Sharon Shannon and our students together is the most fitting tribute I can think of to honour Mary’s legacy with the relaunch of her beloved series. Mary had intended to have Sharon headline this year, and we are glad to carry forward her wishes and reignite her legacy through the presentation of this 2021 Arts in Action programme.”

This year's Arts in Action will present a rich programme of music that will feature performances from: Máirtín O’Connor, Seamie O’Dowd and Cathal Hayden; Sean Ryan, Mick Crehan and Greg Cotter; Leah Redmond, soprano and Dearbhla Collins, piano, and Simon Mawhinney in association with Music for Galway.

The programme will also include a beautiful theatre production of Sacrificial Wind Revival in memory of Mary McPartlan; and RTÉ broadcaster Vincent Woods in conversation with traditional Irish musician, Mick Moloney in ‘Green Fields and Granite Songs’.

To learn about the Bachelor of Arts in Music at NUI Galway, visit

To attend free live streamed Arts in Action events register here: or logon to and search for 'Arts in Action Sharon Shannon'.

For more about Arts in Action visit:


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