By Garbhan Downey

City of Culture media director Garbhan Downey on an exciting new trad social network site....

In Dublin for the Fleadh bid last weekend, a group of us sat down at a table in Culturlann na hEireann, where a parent was waiting for his youngsters to come out of fiddle class.

We got chatting, and it turned out that the man, Tony Lawless, was a fiddler himself, who has recently founded a Facebook-style social network for Traditional musicians.

Lawless set up in April 2011 as a way of connecting traditional musicians across the globe.

He told us: “It has really taken off and in eight months we have close to 2,000 musicians active on the site. By the time the Fleadh hits Derry, I would predict between 5,000 and 7,000 from across the globe. “The core idea is that as the site grows, members join and then join a subgroup for their county, state in the USA, region in UK, and country after that. So for example there will be a subgroup for Derry, and in there will be every Derry traditional musician. The same will apply for Mayo, New York, Texas, Sweden etc. Every musician will have detailed the level they are at from beginner to professional. This allows musicians to get together and practice and learn, start sessions etc. “In addition we have professional musicians from all the main bands on the site inc Téada, Kila, Caladh Nua and solo artists like Paddy O Brien, Paul McGlinchey, Carmel Gunning, Brendan Hendry etc. In fact the artists are sending in their CD’s which we feature for free.”

TradConnect is all free and non-commercial, and there is no other such forum on the web. Between the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in June and next summer’s fleadh, it sounds like a site that’s going to be getting plenty of business in these parts over the next couple of years.

Read more from Garbhan in the Journal every Friday Derry Journal

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