Fingal has a rich legacy of traditional Irish music. The evidence for this is the survival up to recent times of customs, such as annual patterns (or patrons) house dances, Mumming, platform dancing (Springhill), set dancing and crossroad ceílis. The greatest and best know exponent is undoubtedly the late Séamus Ennis, master Uileann piper, raconteur, singer and storyteller. His father was a member of the famous ‘Fingal Trio’, which performed regularly on radio in the early days of Irish public broadcasting. Séamus did extensive work for the BBC during the 1950’s and 1960’s in collecting folk music and folklore throughout the British Isles and presented one of the BBC’s most popular programmes during this period ’As I roved Out’. The full extent of his contribution to the revival of Irish music and song is not yet fully appreciated; suffice to say that is contribution to the Irish Folklore commission is unparrelled and is noted for it’s quality and extent.
Fingal has also many other famous musicians such as Jimmy Gilsenen, Paddy Seavers, ‘The Bow’ McCann, Dick Despard, Packie Howard, Paddy Clarke, Christopher ‘Kitty’ Langan, Pat Gavigan and the Delaney family. The most popular instruments were the button accordion and the mouth organ (known as the ‘French Fiddle’) in west Fingal. Pipes, flutes and fiddles were also played. The band tradition was also strong in Fingal, Fife n’ Drum as well as pipe bands were widespread through out Fingal. The repertoire of these bands was largely made up of dance tunes and marches and it was not uncommon for the band members to be proficient on other instruments.
The provision of a traditional cultural centre in the Naul was first muted through the local Séamus Ennis Autumn School (Scoil Samhna Séamus Ennis), which takes place annually in October. It was felt that a traditional centre operated and funded by Fingal County Council would reinforce the interest unearthed through the annual Scoil, and offer an appropriate setting for the life’s work / legacy of Séamus Ennis.
As with Draiocht the Séamus Ennis Cultural centre was a recipient of a grant under the Cultural Development Incentive Scheme (1994–1999). Fingal County Council purchased two cottages in the village of Nual, and set about refurbishing them into a traditional arts centre. The centre has become the heart of Naul, with thriving educational and performance programmes, and has acted as a catalyst for other local traditional cultural festivals such as Scoil Chris ‘Kitty’ Langan’ which takes place in July in Rush, the Skerries Traditional Weekend and others.
The Séamus Ennis Cultural centre is Fingal County Council’s centre of excellence for traditional arts. It is committed to being a centre of excellence for the promotion and enhancement of the Irish language, music, traditional arts and education, by encouraging partnerships with the community, individuals and businesses to contribute to social, cultural and economic development of Fingal’ Fingal County Council is the majority funder of the Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre, with additional funding from the Arts Council of Ireland.