The Northeast Tionól

Held every year since 1986, the Northeast Tionól is a weekend of classes, workshops, and concerts focusing on the Irish uilleann pipes and fiddle.

The 2021 Northeast Tionól

August 20, 2021


The Tionól Board has spent the last few weeks debating whether to move forward with this year’s Northeast Tionól, particularly as the delta variant of Covid-19 has taken hold. Quite a few festivals and similar events are being held this summer or planned to be held in the autumn, but our situation is unique in several respects:

  • Only about half the people who come to the tionól each year are registered participants; the rest come just for the sessions, concerts, and craic. If we require all participants to provide proof of vaccination, which we’ve considered, we have no way to enforce that among the many non-registered participants. And, as we’ve all seen in the news, vaccinated people can still carry the virus anyway.
  • Most of the rooms that we use for classrooms and workshops are bedrooms and are thus quite small. Social distancing will not be possible in those tight spaces without drastically reducing the number of students per class. Impromptu sessions in those spaces may also present difficulties.
  • October in the Catskills can be warm and sunny, or cold and even snowy. We have to plan for the possibility that everyone will be indoors most of the time, and given the tight quarters and large crowd expected, this seems risky to us. Gavin’s has a tent that could work for some events, but would not be practical for an uilleann piping concert in cold weather.
  • Social distancing during the concerts will be impossible. And if we lowered the number of maximum attendees at the concert to enable social distancing, the weekend would no longer be financially sustainable.

We have all been looking forward to seeing our friends this October, but your health and safety are our highest priority. We don’t feel comfortable putting so many people at risk by bringing them together in this relatively small space. So, as much as it breaks our hearts—and we don’t use that phrase lightly—we have decided to cancel this year’s event.

If you’ve made reservations at Gavin’s, they’ve asked us to let you know that, in accordance with their new cancellation policy, instead of a refund, they will grant a credit for the room, and that they will automatically roll over your reservation for the new tionól dates. In other words, you won’t need to call to stake your claim for next year. Gavin’s will send you a confirmation email for the new reservation.

Given that so many people are suffering from “Zoom fatigue,” we’ve chosen not to organize any online workshops this October. However, we are pleased to announce that we have reserved the weekend of October 14-16, 2022 at Gavin’s, in the hope that we may once again get together for a weekend of craic. With luck, next fall we’ll be able to finally hold the kind of in-person tionól everyone has come to look forward to each year.

Meanwhile, sad as we are to miss seeing you, we wish you all the best. Take care and stay healthy, until we may meet again.

Photo of participants and instructors at the 2018 Northeast Tionól
The Northeast Tionól 2018. Photo by Fel Bautista.

Culture Ireland logoThe Northeast Tionól would like to acknowledge with appreciation the support we’ve received (financial and otherwise) over the years from Na Píobarí Uilleann. The tionól has also received support from Culture Ireland.