Played a vital role in BC’s emergence as a center for Irish music
Published: Dec. 10, 2015
Musician, teacher, organizer, scholar: Fulfilling these roles for the better part of a quarter-century, Seamus Connolly has helped make Boston College a go-to place for traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and other Gaelic cultures.
But the final notes of Connolly’s tenure at BC have sounded.
Connolly, who has been BC’s Sullivan Family Artist-in-Residence since 2004, will retire from the University effective at the end of the fall semester. Appropriately enough, a formal public announcement of his plans came at Tuesday night’s Christmas concert in the Cadigan Alumni Center, held as part of the Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop and Lecture Series – widely acclaimed as one of his signal achievements.
“There comes a moment in everyone’s life when you look back and then say, ‘It’s time,’” said Connolly in an interview last month. “I felt that over 25 years, with the help of many good people, we were able to accomplish so much in giving the Irish and other Gaelic music traditions a home at BC. So moving on at this point just seems the right thing to do.
“I wasn’t an academic, but working here I was very fortunate to be around the finest academics in the world, who were always so supportive and helpful to me.”
Arriving at BC in 1990, Connolly – a native of Killaloe in County Clare who moved to the US in 1976 – burnished his reputation as one of the finest Irish fiddlers of his generation by establishing Irish music, song and dance programs at the University, expanding the scope of BC’s groundbreaking Irish Studies Program. He made it possible for BC undergraduates to take for-credit classes – some of which he taught – in Irish fiddle, flute and tin whistle, as well as Irish dance.