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Tionól, an Irish ‘gathering for the purpose of sharing,’ celebrates its 20th year this weekend

Mike Mullins, director of Tionól, and Eimear Arkins, an Irish singer and fiddle player, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss upcoming concerts and workshops.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
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Mike Mullins, director of Tionól, and Eimear Arkins, an Irish singer and fiddle player, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss upcoming concerts and workshops."

Irish singer and fiddle player Eimear Arkins first came to the United States to Missouri for university. After completing her degree, she headed home to Ireland for a while, returning to St. Louis in 2014 to stay. With her, Arkins brought her fiddle and a singing voice steeped in Irish folk singing tradition from County Clare.

“There’s absolutely no difference between a fiddle and a violin,” Arkins told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter. “Someone once told me that the only difference is that a fiddle is a violin with whiskey on it. It is just the type of music you play.”

This weekend, Arkins, along with several other performers from Ireland and United States will perform a concert and series of workshops called Tionól, and Irish word meaning “gathering for the purpose of sharing,” for its 20th year.

Eimear Arkins plays the fiddle during a recording in the St. Louis on the Air studio.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
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Eimear Arkins plays the fiddle during a recording in the St. Louis on the Air studio.

“[Tionól] really describes what we do,” said Mike Mullins, the festival’s director and Uilleann pipe player.  “We bring in some of the top performers and teachers of traditional Irish music. We have a weekend of workshops, concerts and sessions.”

This weekend, there will be concerts at the Focal Point and the Sheldon on Friday and Saturday, respectively. You can find information on those concerts here.  

There will also be workshops led by leaders in the Irish traditional craft throughout the day on Saturday. Arkins herself will lead a master class on “slow air” playing for fiddles, pipes, flutes and whistles. There will also be instrument-specific classes. You can find information on those here.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Arkins and Mullins played selections of traditional Irish music in-studio and discussed the backstory of the genre.

“The music is never performed the same way twice,” Mullins said.

Listen to the full conversation here:

Related Event

What: Tionól Concert
When: Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd.
More information.

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St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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