The Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre is dedicated to the life and work of musician and traditional song collector, Seamus Ennis. The centre is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the traditional Irish arts. From outside, it is a picture postcard -- indeed, the simple thatched roof and thick stone walls of the cottage that houses the centre are a modest entrance to the energetic and creative talents expressed inside in its Cottage Café, Parlour and other available rooms. Located in the tiny, picturesque village of Naul in North County Dublin, about 30 mins drive from Dublin City, this traditional music and cultural centre hosts a wide variety of currently well-known musicians, songwriters, and artists. Quite a unique venue, the centre has the atmosphere of a traditional old pub crossed with a cafe/restaurant and a museum.
Who Was Seamus Ennis?
Seamus Ennis was born in 1919 in Finglas, North County Dublin. Though raised as an English speaker in Dublin, he received his schooling through the Irish (Gaelic) language at Scoil Cholm Cille (St. Columba's School) and Colaiste Mhuire (Mary's College). This was to help him in his role as a custodian of traditional folk music. Aged 23 and working for the Irish Folklore Commission, Seamus travelled to the far-flung regions of the Irish countryside on a bicycle, including Gaelic speaking regions such as Connemara and the Aran islands.
He countless traditional Irish tunes by pen and paper, which had may otherwise never have been recorded, amassing a collection of hundreds of them in his travels. In 1951, he joined the BBC in London where he recorded the traditional music of Britain and Ireland. The recordings were aired on a then hugely popular program called "As I Roved Out", which lasted until 1958. He was an accomplished singer and Uilleann piper (a traditional Irish instrument), having taken up the instrument aged 13. After the BBC show ended, he made his living mainly as a musician.
Outside the cottage, visitors can find a life sized bronze statue of a seated Seamus Ennis playing the Uilleann pipes. The fine sculpture was created by Vincent Browne, creator of many works in Dublin, including the much-loved Mister Screen statue outside the Screen cinema in Dublin City Centre.
The Seamus Ennis Centre Today
The centre that bears Seamus Ennis's name is dedicated to his work and to preserving and promoting Irish music, poetry, storytelling, art and culture as he did. The centre offers a diverse schedule of performances, sessions, workshops, and classes on a weekly basis and at affordable prices. Throughout the year there are a variety of children's events such as printmaking and pottery.
Traditional Music Events
For young students of traditional Irish music, the centre conducts junior slow sessions. Kids bring their own instruments, learn new songs, and play them together with other young musicians. Traditional music nights are held on certain evenings at the hall to the back of the old cottage, which is a cosy, intimate venue. Each Sunday offers an acoustic session from 3-5pm that features local musicians.
Cafe and Restaurant
The Parlour and Cottage Cafe boast a wonderful atmosphere filled with traditional Irish music, delicious food and a surprisingly wide menu of both lunch and evening meals, and a polite and friendly staff.
The Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre. Image: Séamus Ennis C C