We have some news to share, and unfortunately it’s not good. Our visa applications for Mick O’Brien and Sheila Friel were not approved by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agency in time to complete their required interviews in Dublin, and they won’t be able to join us for the 2018 Northeast Tionól. We apologize for the last-minute notice: we were holding out hope that the approvals could be completed in time for them to catch their flights, but we’re now past the point where that’s feasible.
We compiled our visa application packages in the same format, using the same procedures, and providing the same amount of information as in years past to comply with application requirements. However, the USCIS came back with requests for levels of information and detail that were unprecedented in our experience, and in the experience of other traditional music events that request visas for Irish artists. We did everything we could to facilitate the process and provide the requested information, even hiring an immigration lawyer and enlisting help from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, to no avail.
Bringing Mick and Sheila over without visas is not an option: the risks to them are too high (a simple Google search by U.S. immigration authorities at the airport would reveal that they are scheduled to teach and perform at our event, and without a visa they would be sent back home, banned entry to the U.S. for several years, and face additional hassles from having a permanent record on file).
Knowing this might happen, we reached out last week to several U.S.-based pipers to see who would be available to take their places if it came to this. We’re happy to announce that Cillian Vallely and Ivan Goff have agreed to teach and perform at the tionól this year. On Sunday afternoon, Cillian will give a workshop on “Developing a Tune,” and Ivan will give a workshop entitled “Playing Slow Airs.”
if you signed up for a workshop with Mick or Sheila, we’ll send you a separate email shortly to work out your Sunday workshop schedule.
We appreciate that losing two of our originally advertised instructors is a major change, and if registered and want to cancel we’ll process a refund. But we sincerely hope that you will come despite this frustrating turn of events. It’ll still be a fantastic weekend at the Northeast Tionól, and we need your support now more than ever.